No this is not a post about that new movie starring Bradley Cooper (although - yay, Bradley Cooper!)
At my household of late we've been watching the X-Files, which I missed when it was on back in the day because at that point in my life my scare tolerance was about a 2 on a 1 - 10 scale (1 The Dark Crystal, 10 being The Shining). Over time I've scaled up to around an 8 with a few variables thrown in. I enjoy a good fright, but still have no tolerance for gore. All of this adds up to me rounding up films and television shows that were once upon a time too scary for me, but am now devouring as quickly as I can find them.
I was thinking about why I particularly love the X-Files, which lead to more broad speculation about sci-fi and fantasy - which I'll always take over other genres - and why I'm mind-boggled when encountering people who say "I just don't like fantasy."
And that's that. It's not that they haven't found the right type of fantasy. This group of people don't like any kind of fantasy. They don't even like Harry Potter (fantasy blasphemy!!)
I've run into many such persons in the course of my life, and now that I'm writing fantasy I encounter even more usually in the contest of "I'd like to read your book, but I don't like fantasy. Will you write something else?" *facepalm*
The X-Files finally brought me around to an answer to this conundrum of speculation-haters. In the series Agent Fox Mulder engages in a constant tug of war with Agent Dana Scully. Mulder searchers for evidence of the fantastic in the world: ghosts, magic, monsters and, of course, aliens. Scully is the skeptic, always demanding fact and scientific proof and hoping to explain away through reason what on the surface appears impossible.
I think the population might be divided up into Mulders and Scullys: and it's all about competing visions of one's ideal world. Hailing from the Mulder camp I look at the world as full of possibility. And what terrifies me is the idea that all our imagining could be explained away. I don't want to live in a world where the magical and mystical have no traction, where miracles don't exist. That is what I'm afraid of.
Scullys are the opposite, finding comfort in a world that has boundaries that are fixed, rules that will not be broken. I don't mean this post as a criticism of said persons - only that I think I'm finally understanding their worldview and how radically divergent it is from my own.
These oppositional approaches to the world are based largely in fear. What is more frightening: a world where the fantastic and frightening may exist, or where they can be proven not to?
When asked why I write fantasy I often answer it's because of the freedom. I write to create worlds that explore things unseen, that test the limits of possibility.
I want to live in a world that is limitless. I want to believe.