Thursday, June 3, 2010

Monist and Dualist Fantasies

Reading thuRsday

Dualism (as you may recall from my note on Monday) means seeing the world in terms of two mutually exclusive divisions. Monism means seeing the world as one thing.

Many fantasies are dualistic in the basic sense that you're either in this world or in the fantasy world: you're either in damp England or sunny Narnia, never both. Stories with portals (i.e., magic door), dreams, and time travel are often dualistic.

Magic realism and its more commercial paranormal cousins are monistic because of the conceit that the fantastic elements walk among us, part and parcel of the world we know.

In the novel I drafted about the makers, I created a universe of which the world we know is a part. The other places are no more alternatives for our world than Paris is an alternative for London. In some senses, those cities may feel like different worlds, but in a larger sense they are just places in the world.

I find these notions help me appreciate the different kinds of fantasies I read.

If you force me to pick one, I'd have to go with monistic fantasies: because I've had no luck finding a wardrobe that doubles as a portal, I want to believe that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy.*

* Hamlet, near the end of act 1, scene 5.

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

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