The magic of art
Tunes for a Monday Morning

The magic of hope

Morning walk

From "Myth and History in Fantasy Literature," a lovely essay by O.R. Melling:

"At the heart’s core of fantasy literature lies the infinite possibility of dreams. Whether it presents alternate worlds in outer or inner space, alternate forms of life beyond humanity, alternate realities beyond our own, this genre speaks not to the limited self but to the limitless spirit. The well from which it draws its inspiration -- be it established myth or the capacity for myth-making -- is that which Joseph Campbell calls ‘the lost forgotten living waters of the inexhaustible source.’

Morning walk 2

"Fantasy literature of the high tradition is a song of hope. It whispers a simple message: as long as the spirit is intact, nothing is broken irreparably. It is idealistic in both the conventional and the Platonic sense and can therefore be a nourishing source for the idealism of youth. Young people are by nature idealistic as, regardless of the hardships they may have already endured, they do not have the accumulation of failures which every adult has gathered through time and experience.

"We as adults can react to youth’s spirit in either a negative or positive way. We can envy or resent their innate optimism and we can discourage it with cynicism, or even actively try to break it. Or we can nurture and encourage that fiery seed in the hopes that this generation might actually win. This generation may not inevitably lose their dreams to disillusionment or defeat. Gottfried von Strassburg, the 13th century author of Tristan, wrote of his work: ‘I have undertaken a labour, a labour out of love for the world, to comfort noble hearts.’

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"Fantasy literature is often considered to be simply a form of escapist fiction. Firstly I do not feel that ‘escaping’ is necessarily valueless in itself. As anyone who needs a holiday will attest, escaping can be a form of psychological and psychic regeneration as necessary as sleep. But I would also maintain that anything which encourages dreams and aspirations of a better self or a better world, anything which ‘comforts noble hearts’, is hardly an escape from reality. Rather, it can be an aid to survival and a source of strength, as well as a possible vehicle for improvement. And, as Tolkien pointed out, ‘a living mythology can deepen rather than cloud our vision of reality.’ "

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Painting by Terri Windling

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