I got a small but unpleasant reminder recently of how people consider some lives more valuable than others, as in arguments as to who doesn’t deserve medical drug funding, versus traditionally valued groups. There are all kinds of instances where people will be more affected by the proximity of suffering to their own lives, but that tends to be genuine ignorance of what is more distant. Consciously seeing whole groups as second class or disposable, and effectively arguing for it though, that seems a bit more “advanced”. I’d understand it more if it was a “no lives matter” approach that treated all groups and all people equally, but that isn’t the deal. The deal is “my life is worth more, no comment needed”*, even when it is said to your face. But hey, group identification is always a smelly business.
Such things bring back a lot of sense of how hopeless human life seems to some people though, because honestly, it stinks. I very much understand people feeling that some things will just never change, when you see the density of the consciousness involved. It is always interesting to see who we protect, and who we ignore and sacrifice, as a society. It is generally hidden from examination, under the cloak of “virtue” or “necessity”. And people wonder why I’m a Satanist?
Of course things can change with respect to this or that, and I advise people to think as individuals and try to ignore the unpleasantness of politics and group identification, and there is always magick. But following this I got to thinking on the value of fantasy to people.
Fantasy is a great relief from life, and both in literature and film is very popular, but also tends to be much derided as “serious” art. Science fiction would be a good example, but so would vampire stories, horror and supernatural fiction, and genres that contain alternative mythological worlds (I would guess the world of gaming might overlap here, though I don’t know a lot about it). Contrast this with the world of the respectable novel, which reflects the “real” world of the present. Fantasy literature potentially provides a kind of deliverance from “the world” and its norms.
Similarly in music, while hordes will follow the boy-meets-girl, I love you baby, ooh yeah girl, hey boy (the sexuality of the singer can never be left in doubt, even for the space of an absent word in romantic genres generally), it’s people with different sensibilities, who maybe don’t fit the great tribal family based society, who will go for things like metal say.
With quite a lot of these forms of art, they get criticized for being emotionally undeveloped in terms of relationships and romance, for being kinda “autistic” (there could be more than one post just on the misuse of that word), but for a good section of people, it is the conformism, the unspoken inflicting of value and erasure, the extraction of an arbitrary and undiscussed price, which conventional relationships in society cement. Not that fantasy doesn’t include relationship, it clearly does, and sometimes romantically, but fantasy itself involves a great act of imaginative negation, which is one of our major, uncorrupted human capacities. It is a world undone, and then reimagined. The same capacity gives us just about everything new and helpful, usually with a mob in opposition, either with pitchforks and Bibles, or ridiculing put downs.
People wonder why kids, and people of all ages, immerse themselves in fantasy, geek out on sci-fi or games, think they have the souls of animals or dragons, or go crazy on Harry Potter or vampires or Lord of the Rings. I say fucking well good for you. And if you find fellowship with others in the process, even better.
Don’t let the tribalists and family values creeps get you down. It may take more than imagination, but it’s a damn good start.* as in the life of someone like me, the group I identify with, not just personal survival.