Firstly, thank you, Dear Readers, for your comments on my Gothic horror fantasy, The Dream. I am a little disappointed, though, that no one spotted the cleverness that was in the text. A gold star by your name if you find it.
The other day a friend posted on his blog a story or rather a scene where he let go of some of his inhibitions. In this text the narrator is rather cruel to some women. This person is far from the narrator in this story but to some extent, I think, it expressed some of his feelings. Some of his readers were a little taken aback by this story, as I understand it.
This prompted a discussion in which I participated and it brings up a very important issue: the difference between fantasy writing and ordinary writing. I don't want to make too much of it but there is a kind of stories, call them surreal, dream stories or fantasies that are a little different from just writing about something, whatever it may be. The difference lies, among other things, in how the main character, the one which the story is about, relates to the what is around them.
This may sound a little cryptic but what I am saying is that if you write a text about a subject, be it religion, a place, an event or whatever you write about real thing. If you say something about Africa you are stating something about Africa or if it is about angling, or Christianity or some person. If you write about a fantasy of yours, however, you are writing about yourself. If you describe a dream or a fantasy and you find yourself in Africa or in a church or together with some people, the story is not about Africa, that church or those people. In a dream story, the stage is yours, and all yours. Everything besides yourself (even in the disguise of some hero or heroine) is there for you.
So when this friend was cruel to those girls in his story there were not really anyone he was cruel to. He didn't state anything about how to treat girls or even about how he want to treat girls. He wrote about a fantasy, about an emotion. Perhaps he was angry or just didn't want to care about others and this was expressed in a cruel story.
I am not writing this to defend this person. He is capable of doing that himself. No, it is to point to something really important about fantasy stories. That they should be free. We should write them and read them for what they are. They are not statements about something or the world in general. They are a statement about a state of mind that is expressed in a symbolic way in the story. Killing someone in a dream story means, perhaps, anger, not a genuine wish to kill.
I do this all the time and I am sometimes reluctant to write freely, fearing I will be misunderstood. I do have settings that are vaguely Middle Eastern with people who look like Middle Eastern people. I fear that someone will construe them as being racist if some of them are cruel to me in my story, as if I am making a statement about people from the Middle East. I am not. It is a setting from my romantic store of settings, perhaps inspired by some film or by Arabian Nights or something like that. Or if I was abducted by black savages in Africa. That kind of image stems, I think, from Tarzan films from childhood and does not reflect my ideas about Africa. But in my imagination I do want them to be cruel and wild and very different from me. It is not about them but about my imagination and my emotions. They are not there to represent anything that is real. They are there to play a role in my fantasy.
I can understand the argument that this imagery stems from racist films and notions but I can't do anything about that now. It is too late. They are there from childhood and they form a part of me and if I am to let my fantasy be free and not comply with political correctness it will turn out some images that are not very nice should they represent real opinions. But they don't represent real opinions. That is my point.
And to return to the cruel imagery of some stories. I have them too and I am reluctant to write about it even here, in my blog, the blog that was supposed to be free. I have fantasies that are not always nice, about rape and humiliation and even cruelty, disturbing images that are both horrible and exciting. They point to emotions and thoughts that are contradictory, they represent, I think, conflicts in me and maybe they are even a way of dealing with very unpleasant memories. But they are there and I am reluctant to share them even if I think I should be honest and open.