Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

mfradera's picture

Riverdancing on my hopes and dreams

In regards to the stomping we've been talking about, I'm pretty sure it came up more than a week ago when I commented that while Dennet is trying to reassure those who believe their dreams and pure hopes have been demolished by Darwin, I found it particularly ironic and hope stomping that it was Dennet who crushed one of my own fantasies. This specific dream was that maybe, in some way, Jurassic Park was plausible. On page 114, however, Dennet obliterates any grip of hope I may have had around the subject. My issue with this was as follows:

I can see why most subjects and stories must be challenged for the sake of intellectual exploration (though that itself is a slippery slope of moral dilemma), but I saw no reason why the genre of fantasy needed to be touched. It's already fantasy, isn't that enough? We know its fantasy and willfully suspend our disbelief in order to enjoy a story; it is using story simply for aesthetic pleasure. That hardly seems to be preventing other stories from existing or holding more wide spread validity.

As a group, we came to a common conclusion that sometimes fantasy does need to be “stomped.” This should be done mostly when one tries to bridge the gap between reality and the island of fantasy.

Now we get into a tricky area: What distinguishes fantasy from reality? Well, there are certain biological and neurological realities that we as humans experience. “Reality,” here shouldn't be confused with the “Truth” we've been talking about; Truth, I think, should have more personal value than needing oxygen to live, (at least for me it does). Maybe reality can only be distinguished by when we know is Other or fantasy. Our culture tends to call this lack of distinction mental illness while others call it holiness. Whatever the case may be, problems and conflict (social, physical, and economic ones) arise when people begin to ignore the space between reality and fantasy for too long a time.

I believe that fantasies should be entertained, so long as the suspension of disbelief that allows one to buy into it is willful rather than unconscious. The risk created by unconsciously bridging that gap is that the connection between the two worlds may remain for too long and become permanent (i.e. psychosis or eternal sacredness). Okay, that sounds a bit magic-like (not my intention) but it also brings up a couple other interesting questions: Is it a bridge or a draw bridge that can be retracted? Does the island become a peninsula when the tide is out? Is it an island or just a sectioned off part of the mainland?

Any how, I thought I'd finish with an extended quote from Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie. It kind of illustrates my point about the geography of fantasy and the fears of some parents:

I don't know if you have ever seen a map of a person's mind... There are zigzag lines on it... and these are probably roads on the island, for the Neverland is always more or less and island...

When you play at it by day with chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very nearly real...

She dreamt that the Neverland had come too near... in her dream he had rent the film that obscures the Neverland, and she saw Wendy, John and Michael peeping through the gap.


To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
5 + 9 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.