Browncoats Unite!

Browncoats Unite!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ramblings about escapism vs. history in writing and literature...

Recently I have been conversing with a friend about escapism in literature and in the various things we do these days to entertain ourselves in the absence of chivalry and derring-do.

I suppose that's why high fantasy appeals to me so much, because of its correlation to and at the same time differences from, our world and its history.

"From Stone to Stone run the lines of if, between the worlds that might be."

“There are no beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.”

Seems Robert Jordan picked up on the agelessness of the ages, even incorporating different worlds into his books' setting.

Tolkien picked up on it, before him, but even Tolkien didn't invent this phenomenon. It has been everpresent throughout the ages of our world in its current history and will continue into the future.

JRR touched on this in the Fellowship, at the "secret meeting" in Rivendell, when Gandalf says "And in any case it is not our fate or duty to think only of our age, or of the next, but of all the rest of the ages, time untold. It would be easier, but more selfish, to simply cast this Thing into the deeps of the Sea." 

Jordan/Sanderson mentioned something similar, in the second latest book. The main character/antihero, something of a Messianic figure, is at a turning point, all alone. He is about ready to kill himself. At this juncture, he asks himself “Why? Why do I have to be a sacrifice for mankind, over and over and over again, reborn without end? Why would the Creator do this to me? A small voice whispers in his head: “Maybe...maybe because we all deserve a second chance.”

It is this desire we have as men to leave a legacy and do great things that we have to find an outlet for, I think. In the past, only nobles and the soldier elite were able to partake in such adventures, and in rougher times they were able to do great (read, violent and sometimes oppressive) deeds and get away with it on a regular basis. Through their transgressions as well as their good deeds, our current world was born, with its good and its evil and everything in between.

Now (in this "civilised" age) most of us are reduced to sports, roleplaying, reenacting, backpacking, big game hunting and playing with sharp things. Bushcrafting, camp crafting and basement crafting is one way to escape the status quo.  I suppose even modern military officers and leaders have a lot of rules and regulations they are obliged to follow whether they want to or not. Maybe they always have... Burning and pillaging are strictly verboten no matter who you are. Pyramids of enemy skulls are a thing of the past and the only way in which we can indulge in our innately human desires for greatness and to change the world, is not only in knowing the past, (very important), but also in the art of escapism, yes, in writing and literature, and also in gaming.


Copyright of Paul Ziegenfuss, 2011. All rights reserved.