I’m not superstitious, but I love superstitions. Let me tell you about one of my favorites. It is said that if you read all of One Thousand and One Nights, in its entirety, you will die. I love that so much. Everyone says “knowledge is power”, but this goes the extra mile: knowledge has the ultimate power. There exists poetry so entrancing it will kill you on the spot because no human mind can encompass it. Reading One Thousand and One Nights is the ultimate commitment to fine literature. There is true beauty in the world and it is worth dying for.
The fact this superstition exists is evidence of part of it. Nobody’s ever said the US tax code will bring an enlightenment so pure that your heart stops beating. We give this sort of power to fiction, building a feedback loop that’s still going strong.
I also think Superman is a better moral example than whatever religious figure you care to mention. No matter who you ask, Superman was made up by a pair of men in the 1930s and developed by many others since: 100% fake. That means everything he’s done, every impossible problem he’s solved, was done by your average, modern, non-divine human being. If people can see the path, they can walk it. It’s the highest standard to set, but the most realistic to reach because he is one of us, in every way that matters.
Last night’s Doctor Who episode was brilliant. I haven’t talked about the show much because I’m liking it more than I have in quite some time and don’t want to jinx it, but I’ll make an exception for you folks. Essentially, it was about the stories we tell ourselves, and the thin line between comfort and fear, thin enough to not exist in many cases. It takes fiction to deliver the truth, and artifice to reflect reality. Marisol, by Jose Rivera, sets all of Ohio on fire because the truth of the rust belt is too strange. In the Doctor Who episode we’re told that there are “no monsters except what’s inside”, that there’s a fictional part of all of us. It may be easiest to see in the guise of a monster, but that’s not the only option by far.
We built the power and we’ve absorbed it. It’s why we play games, write stories, and retreat to fiction; to feed that part of us. If we recognize that for what it is, for what it could be, the world can be a bigger, weirder, brighter, darker, better place. A place where poetry is worth the risk, where truth and justice are the norm, and where we never need be cruel or cowardly. Don’t retreat from the world, but use all the other worlds open to us to enrich it.
-Ironicus (the self-indulgent one)