|Stories - Part Two: Why Do People Do What They Do?
The paradox of fairy stories is that they both deal with real problems that we recognise, yet do it in fantasy situations. The artistic licence is acceptable if we know that 'somehow or other' the things could have happened. What we recognise is that irrespective of how people get themselves into situations; the important thing is how they react to the problem, not the details of getting the problem. It is of interest to us that Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk got some magic beans. It is not of interest that he exchanged them for his cow. It doesn't even come into the story that the person who made the exchange must be somebody out of the ordinary. Stories that involve some aspect of magic push artistic license to the limits. It is worth studying them to see what one can reasonably get away with.
Reality relates to our needs, and fantasy relates to ways of satisfying those needs. If we are hungry we imagine what would satisfy that hunger. If we are deprived of love, and we imagine the person we would like to have a relationship with. If we are annoyed with someone, we imagine ways of punishing them. If we want to achieve something, we imagine ways of achieving the objective.
A large part of our day is spent fantasising. Our fantasies allow us to escape from the realities of life generally, and from the present. Our fantasy life enables us to satisfy a range of needs that might be unobtainable in reality. Advertising exploits our fantasies by using beautiful people and exotic settings to capture our attention. We also live out fantasies of fear and excitement in stories that take us places we dare not, or could not go in reality.
Stories give us the food for our fantasies. They supply us with images, situations, and solutions. They also help us by showing that our own problems and fantasies are common to other people, and that we are not alone in being worried or angry about the world.
On the other hand, we believe what we want to believe, so reality and fantasy are often mixed and hard to distinguish. Though we may not believe in Father Christmas, we may well believe that someone loves us when they don't. We may well believe in superstitions, or the paranormal, yet have no evidence to support our beliefs. We may believe that we are better or worse than we really are. Our beliefs are the no-mans-land between fantasy and reality.
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