Sunday, February 26, 2012


“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.”
George R.R. Martin

This is a beautiful illustration by David T Wenzel   (you can find more of his lovely stuff on his website)
A long time ago one of my friends said she didn't want to indulge in fantasy because she felt like it was an escape and that she wouldn't have the skills to deal with reality if she was always escaping. I remember feeling so sad for her.
I have recently read The Hunger Games Trilogy, I've read Harry Potter, many of my favorite books are based on Robin Hood and Arthur, and like many others my all time favorite is Tolkien. I've read Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lords or the Rings. If I could get my hands on the other out of print works, I'd read them as well. My friend said that fantasy is an escape, but it's Oh so much more then that.
I love a good story, but they have to be really well done to impress me.  I especially like stories where the lead becomes the hero through the choices he or she makes, and not because it's predestined or chosen for them. For those of you who haven't read The Hunger Games, I won't give it away, but I want to be like Katniss. Her achievement is won through sacrifice and personal loss. She gave up everything to gain something better. It wasn't what she wanted, but she did what she did because it had to be done. I love stories about people who step up and take the challenge even when it seems too hard. Frodo is a similar character. He simply asks what must I do? I think that Frodo's story, as a fictional character, is more based in reality than many real characters I know. Frodo goes on a journey to vanquish an evil. He is small and unskilled, he is scared and unsure of himself, but he finds the courage to step out his door into the unknown. Along the way he finds friends in people he wouldn't have ever trusted. He finds out who his real friends are. He finds out how much he is loved and needed. He finds out how to empathize and feel what the truly wretched have felt. He learns what real evil is and how to recognize goodness. This fantastical story has inspired me to think differently and be creative. I am but a small Hobbit on this planet, but I musn't be afraid to leave the Shire. I would miss out on so much.

Fantasy is always spilling over into my reality. The bright colors of my dreams stay with me, I paint them on my canvases. The spices are in my cooking and my behavior. Someday, I will live in a Hobbit hole. The truth is that anything can be made a reality if it is dreamed and I am a vivid dreamer. I hope that my friend has learned to be one as well. There is magic in fantasy.

Some lessons from the Wise One
I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
J.R.R. Tolkien

I better stop here before I reveal just how big of a Tolkien geek I really am, though I fear it's already to late for that ;)

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