Friday, January 29, 2010

Delayed Gratification – The Big Lie

It is amazing how frequently we are seeing people question the underpinnings of their beliefs in popular culture today – and never more prevalent than the fantasy genre. Fantasy is a place where cultural values can be removed from the immediacy of ‘real life’ and placed into a context where – hopefully – we can view them with less bias.

In most cultures the biggest determinant of a person’s beliefs comes through the auspices of religion. While much of what is espoused by organized religion provides a positive benefit to society, that is not its main purpose. It’s goal is to take control your rèsonce – your lifeforce or life energy – and utilize it primarily for the organization’s growth. Personal development or self improvement is only encouraged when it improves the lot of the group as a whole – and particularly its leaders.

The most insidious method used by most organized religions is delayed gratification. That is, live your life in a way that most benefits the church and in the afterlife you will have earned infinite happiness. Basically, you end up being enslaved to an organization that bases its power on fear rather than empowerment. It takes away choice, and the responsibility for choice, and replaces critical thinking with ‘faith’. Used this way – faith, a valuable tool to maintain hope in difficult situations, becomes ‘The Big Lie’.

One of the many incidents that disprove that form of hereafter is the recent story of six-year-old James Leininger who has past life memories of being being a Corsair pilot in the second world war. This is only one of many reported incidents of memory of previous lives.

It is not often we hear about these sorts of incidents in churches, schools, or political forums – but the ideas that break the back of mind-imprisoning dogma is the staple of fantasy literature and cinema. The very popular feature ‘Avatar’ explores the question of the connection to all life, and the continuity of life after death. It raises a potent question of the wisdom of living in current time, rather than sacrificing what is rare and precious simply to keep alive the ambitions of a dormant few.

I wonder how those who advocate ‘dominion over the earth’ will feel when they return as the children of their grandchildren – only to learn they must live in the world they have raped and destroyed with their greed. Too many are looking forward to some sort of ‘end times’ to solve their problems. At some point we need to stop and think about what we can each do to bring about what needs changing.

In my writing I explore the impact of patterns developed life after life as the same players assemble to attempt to resolve the issues they have inherited by their choices. As the stories unfold, I find myself understanding the concept of lifestrand and the impact that my decisions in this life will have on me in the future. I wish for all the chance to step back and imagine the present and future they long for in their hearts, and step forward to ‘seize the day’.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Monotonous Monogamy

One facet of the genre that has always attracted me to fantasy fiction is the opportunity to explore alternate social milieus free of the societal limitations in which we live. To be able to immerse myself in situations without the boundaries of our current culture is priceless. Often a story, that is fantastic for our world, causes me to reassess how I view reality, and that sometimes results in changes that radiate out from me to others.

An interesting spillover from our culture into that of fantasy fiction is that of monogamy. While the practice of one sexual partner for life was the agreed-upon-but-not-always-practiced norm in the Western world during the Second Millennium CE or so – especially when life expectancy was less than forty years – monogamy was uncustomary for the majority of the rest of the world. For the past century, very few have experienced even the less stringent ‘one sexually monogamous marriage partner for life’ that many espouse. I believe in the potential for eternal love and even love that transcends lifetimes but I do not perceive any truth in the idea that monogamy equates to love.

Monogamy as a requirement for females was instituted by the patriarchy to ensure that they knew who the father of a child was and to denigrate the status of women, in part in response to the previous dominance of the matriarchy and in part to define women as property. Most males were encouraged to take other lovers and were honored for their virility and masculinity. But I digress from the thread of my blog.

I love supernatural tales, so what I am about to say is not about that subgenre. I am using vampires as an example to ruminate about longevity and monogamy. In many vampire stories in which vampires are not solitary, there is a subplot about vampires who are in love with one another, and after several hundred years, they cannot conceive of sexual activity with anyone else. Often, there is a jealous reaction when one even thinks of the possibility. This conception by the author fails because of their lack of understanding of what it would mean to live for hundreds of years.

First – If you are partnered in love with someone for centuries, you will have learned that your love is not based on sexual congress but in your emotional bond and your shared life experiences.

Second – If you love someone and they could not become physically ill from having sex with others, you would likely encourage it, if for no other reasons than to satisfy curiosity, learn a new technique or bring some spice into your own relationship. There would be no jealously. How could a mere mortal of a short lifespan compete with hundreds of years of partnership?

Third – The act of feeding (that is, consuming the life of a human) is described as an extremely erotic and absolutely fulfilling experience that transcends orgasm. With that being the case, mere sexual intercourse would be of no significance to your partner.

I could refer to any number of other stories with long-lived characters and in most, the author’s biases towards what is considered the best partnership in this paradigm, contaminates the potential for the reader to fully understand what it would mean to be that character.

I prefer loving partnerships that encourage growth over limitations; ones that revel in new experiences and obtaining knowledge; and are supportive of the change that is the essence of living.

Happy New Year to you and yours! May this one be all about you becoming more.