Day two of the A to Z Challenge and if you don't know what that is you may need to spend more time blogging. Here's the incredibly daunting list. I'll be working my way through it, slowly, over the course of the month, but say hello down below and I'll find you sooner!
Today B is for Belief.
"Tell me one last thing," said Harry. "Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"
"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" ~J.K. Rowling
One of the things that I love about fantasy is that it opens up realms of belief that are no longer acceptable to modern society. As a rule, modern man has developed the idea that if you can't see it or touch it, it doesn't exist, though even sight is often doubted as smell, hearing and taste are. We demand that something has physical presence in order to exist.
This is the view that the inexperienced Harry Potter represents in the quote above. He wants to know if he is really, physically in the place where he speaks with Dumbledore at the end of Deathly Hallows or if he's only imagining it. (I won't say more about it in case any of you haven't read it.) But Dumbledore, wise in years, knows better. He knows that there is much that exists beyond what we can scientifically prove. The character Thomas Covenant from (wait for it) the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant has a much worse case of doubt than Harry. Thomas is a leper who gets into an accident and wakes up in the world of the Land where people have magic powers and there's an evil dark lord that they believe only Thomas can defeat. Thomas' education as a leper (a condition that makes it impossible to trust even your senses if you want to survive) convinces him that this is all a dream. It can't possibly be real. He fights against what the people of the Land want him to do, never truly accepting his destiny to be their hero. (It's for this reason that I don't like the character much.) The books chronicle a constant struggle between Thomas and the people of the Land. Them to convince him to become what he is meant to become and save them from destruction. Him to fight with every ounce of his being against what he sees as a mortally tempting descent into hallucination.
But most fantasy accepts that there is more to the world than meets the eye or brushes the hand. From the reality of gods of all shapes and sizes, to strange mythical creatures, to the ability of humanity to wield forces unimaginable with no more than our wills. Fantasy is all about exploring that which is beyond our human knowledge and our mortal strength. It reminds us that reality is more than what we can see, touch, smell, taste and hear. Fantasy allows us to believe, even if only for the span of a book, in fairies and monsters and gods and demons. Fantasy lets us be more than we could ever dream to be in this "real" world.