Hiding in Utopias or generating the hell-on-earth of dystopia leave the responsibility of fiction as an opportunity not taken. To escape into wish-fulfillment or create blueprints for further horrors are not our only choices. It is possible to use fiction’s powers not re-actively; but as a way to bring new possibilities into consciousness.
Story is always with us. Our conditioned minds take any input no matter how scattered and will force them into narrative patterns. If we accept this as the only way we can interact with story then we accept a trap. Utopias and dystopias are expressions of this trap. They arise out of the incoherence of thought. They build on an illusory foundation, that our habitual contact with thought is coherent.
We see thoughts churning away and are convinced by this spectacle that there is a thinker behind it. We then displace our sense of self onto this thinker who has no more reality than a rainbow, an illusion that is stunning, compelling; but no less an artifact of perception and not an actual entity for all of its impact. Story is then hijacked to be in service of maintaining this illusion. This hobbles story and cuts us off from any possibility of using story for anything else. The question of what story can do outside of this reactionary bolstering of illusion is left unaddressed.
Story is strongly implicated in how we arrived at this point. Its compelling nature and seemingly hard-wired connection to the illusion of the Ego – the protagonist in all our civilized stories – seem to place it squarely as “part of the problem.” But, such a view remains mired in the problematic attitude that is also part of this complex of dysfunctional conditioning. Setting up exclusionary categories this way does nothing but maintain us within the thrall of Ego’s machinations.
Story is a way in which we can approach the infinite via creativity. This is true even within the bounds of accepted story’s role. It is even more so if we look at story from outside this limiting cage.
To experiment with story in light of this appreciation of how it is fraught is difficult. But it is one way of acting within an embodiment of what it is to live outside this box. While stories themselves created from within this confrontation are “not real,” they are, through the very process that brings them into being, imaginative navigations of implication. And these are as much genuine acts as any interaction with “matter.”