Fantasy and coming home

Astral and paranormal experiences, dreams and visions.
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Nefastos
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

Post by Nefastos »

Benemal wrote: Thu Nov 11, 2021 11:31 amFor otherwordly reading I highly recommend Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy

I still remember the feeling I had from the Earthsea books as a child. It was very rooted, earthen, slow, a bit gloomy, and not to my liking. I read them again as a young adult, and felt the same. The atmosphere is not for me. And even though the writing was, of course, much better than, say, Dragonlance, or other such greasy fast food in paperback, it's not as good that one could actually enjoy the text without liking the world and its implications.

Benemal wrote: Thu Nov 11, 2021 11:31 amNew Vegas

Oh, to get more games like this one. Preferably fantasy and not scifi. New Vegas was one of those rare actual RPGs, where that is not just an euphemism for getting better in skills by killing beings.

By the way – speaking about fantasy & homecoming – have you noticed how much the contemporary cultures rides on the nostalgy of today's adults? Resurrected brands, toylines & remakes seek to give the 80s children the lost experience again. I think it is both nice, terrifying, and interesting.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

Post by Astraya »

I have always felt profoundly strong emotions towards some books, films, series and videogames. I guess the feeling on longingness to something that it's hard to describe is one of the reasons for this. Also, if there's problems in childhood, which I for example had, the other worlds became safe places to be. Fantasy genres often hold beautiful and noble areas in them, which are hard to find in "real world".
Zelda, Ocarina of time has been one of my favourite escapism places, many hours I have ran and rode in the game world, which eventually at some point in my life, caused that I started to see everything around me as in that game.
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

Post by Mars »

I was also a Morrowind devotee back in the day, but I also liked Oblivion a lot. That type of high fantasy environment is always like returning back home. Skyrim was OK but somehow too close to my real world home with all the nord stuff and too realistic landscapes and forests.
Nefastos wrote: Thu Nov 11, 2021 11:06 am Between you and me, I must confess that I hate Harry Potter, although not as vehemently that I hate Terry Pratchett's books. I do not confess this to Harry Potter fans though, for I definitely understand the need for escapism, and I too have read (and still read) very bad novels, like Dragonlance. So awfully written that it often makes you grind your teeth – but the sense of otherworldliness is so much needed in our bleak culture.

My immersion abilities are so great that I don’t require a book or a game to be actually very good for me to enjoy it. I am quite picky with fantasies but it’s hard to pinpoint what the factor is. For instance, I don’t like Harry Potter, Terry Pratchett or Earthsea, but some superficial stuff like World of Warcraft is fine.
During the pandemic I’ve revisited some of my early favourites like R. A. Salvatore and still enjoy them. I had to draw a line to David Eddings and the Belgariad, though!
Nefastos wrote: Thu Nov 11, 2021 11:06 am This makes one think... are we actually living in one of those "fallen ages" of humankind, which actually failed to grasp their possibility to go onwards in spiritual development, and went astray in a demonic loop? Is this reality we live in already a fallen state, and what we yearn for is the actual healthier timeline which has not went mad with new technology and its violent influences to all the surrounding nature, as we have?
That’s an interesting thought and one that I’ve entertained on multiple occasions. It is quite interesting that Tolkien’s and Howard’s fantasies took place in the prehistory of our world instead of a purely other universe like most other fantasies. It makes them more tangible when there’s the relationship to our modern times to think about. I guess it has to do with this yearning for something more true, noble and spiritual instead of this corrupt timeline we’re living in right now. Yearning for something more real, somehow.
Astraya wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 10:05 am I have always felt profoundly strong emotions towards some books, films, series and videogames. I guess the feeling on longingness to something that it's hard to describe is one of the reasons for this. Also, if there's problems in childhood, which I for example had, the other worlds became safe places to be. Fantasy genres often hold beautiful and noble areas in them, which are hard to find in "real world".
This sounds very familiar to me also.
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

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Nefastos wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 8:49 am By the way – speaking about fantasy & homecoming – have you noticed how much the contemporary cultures rides on the nostalgy of today's adults? Resurrected brands, toylines & remakes seek to give the 80s children the lost experience again. I think it is both nice, terrifying, and interesting.
Yes I agree but I'm more interested to see what forms this phenomenon takes in the future. I met a young woman some time ago who confessed that she, and these are her own words, liked to watch "retro TV-shows like supernatural". I almost felt dizzy. I didn't even realize that show is almost 20 years old.

I'm also interested to hear what kind of musical pieces are born from the influence of modern artist who play with 80s nostalgia that in turn influence new generations of artists. Already their ideas of "80s" music is pretty disconnected from actual music of that period and rather based on preconceptions and aesthetic impressions of that era.


I think it's also about giving their children similar experience that they had at the same time if we are talking about things that are for the whole family (like the Star Wars franchise) since it's those very generations that grew up with the earlier stuff that are creating that new additions. I think there's something very human and adorable about it since it happens on so many levels. Parents re-creating the same experiences they had for their children, giving their toys to them, taking them to see their childhood places and even re-creating their favorite movies and tv for them.

I was born in the early 90's but my nostalgic sensibilities are mainly towards 80's and 90's stuff. Things came to our sleepy northern town where I grew up with quite a delay. We didn't have internet either until I was in in upper middle school and by then i had lost interest in most TV, movies and games.

I dislike Harry Potter too by the way. Your comment reminded me of this:

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/wp- ... tchett.jpg
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

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Nefastos wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 8:49 am And even though the writing was, of course, much better than, say, Dragonlance, or other such greasy fast food in paperback, it's not as good that one could actually enjoy the text without liking the world and its implications.
I used to be able to read badly written books, if the events were interesting (Alastair Reynolds, for example), but can't anymore. Luckily I'll never be out of well written books, because of writers like Jack Vance and Michael Moorcock, and others, plus people I don't know of yet. Now I just quit reading, if it's not up to my standards. Can't do that trivial stuff even in serials anymore. Got to be the best HBO and so forth. And you know what else I watch, that's not exactly classy Cinema.
Nefastos wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 8:49 am Oh, to get more games like this one.
The one I mentioned felt right, straight away. Scifi, but not meant to be predictive, instead steampunk western style.
Nefastos wrote: Fri Nov 12, 2021 8:49 am By the way – speaking about fantasy & homecoming – have you noticed how much the contemporary cultures rides on the nostalgy of today's adults? Resurrected brands, toylines & remakes seek to give the 80s children the lost experience again. I think it is both nice, terrifying, and interesting.
I'm out of all of it, but I know of it from nerd channel's on YT. I've had no interest in the remake's and reboots, so far, but now that's gonna change. I'll watch Cowboy Bebop (which actually looks right, surprisingly), and the Hellraiser reries. The net is cast so wide, that finally they're getting me.
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

Post by Cancer »

The reason fantasy literature is associated with these themes of homecoming might be that there's something inherently conservative about it as a genre, in contrast to scifi, for example. In SF, there's a focus on new technology and/or social arrangements, while fantasy often reinforces tropes that already have a solid footing in our culture, making it feel "mythical". I might be overstating my case hugely here, as I don't know fantasy nearly broadly enough to seriously generalize like this, but at least from Tolkien, le Guin, the Elder Scrolls, and Star Wars (which I count as fantasy because duh) it seems that the genre has more of a cyclical conception of time in contrast to SF's linearity. The idea of historical progress is largely absent from fantasy, while SF would not be possible without it.

(And of course right after writing this I start to think of counterexamples, like le Guin's Tehanu and Tales from Earthsea (my favorites from the series, that do the seemingly impossible in improving upon the near-perfect original trilogy). The way LoTR ends with the passing of one age and coming of another might also seem like "progress" at first glance but is actually just the ending of Myth and inception of History, and maybe a similar case could be made for le Guin as well... Idk, defining genres is hard.)

A very appealing mix of fantasy and SF elements as outlined here can be found in le Guin's best novel overall, the aptly (for this thread) named Always Coming Home. It's a collection of stories and other texts about - and "by" - a far-future civilization that's modeled after some Native American cultures le Guin was familiar with through the work of her anthropologist father. There's a strong sense of "timelessness" in the book, but also interesting speculative stuff about non-hierarchical organization, gender equality etc. For me, the book's world manages to feel like "home" in just the way discussed here, even though I never read it as a child. Something about unassuming, kind of sad stories about ordinary people who live in a utopian setting but still deal with heartbreak, identity issues and so on just hits a really sweet spot for me. Maybe the absence of big, world-threatening problems allows those mundane concerns to have the gentle dramatic weight they deserve.
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

Post by Invitus »

I have had similar experiences concerning "fantasy and coming home" with Tolkien's Middle Earth. The longing and feeling of loss after finishing a book, "haikeus", in finnish was quite overwhelming. As a child I really found the already explored and explained reality of our planet (as I perceived it back then) quite dull, uninspiring and mundane. The unexplored, mystical and magical appeals to some kind of human sensibilities quite powerfully. Id claim it to be a sort of religious-esque experience. Pair that with the "coming home", the shared identification with the mystical, and a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of nostalgia and we can really see what is happening here.
"And so he who looks down at his feet will not know the truth, but he who discerns by the sun which way to go." -Tolstoi
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

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Cancer wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 8:28 pm le Guin's Tehanu and Tales from Earthsea (my favorites from the series, that do the seemingly impossible in improving upon the near-perfect original trilogy)
I intend to read those too. Such a long time between third and fourth, it was a good place to stop, in case I didn't read more.
I really hope they don't violate her legacy next. I predicted it would be done to Wheel Of Time, and that's not even important to me, just entertaining holiday reading. Since Le Guin was political, it's easy to predict what would happen with her work. What was counter-culture fifty years ago, is now official party-line.
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

Post by Cancer »

Benemal wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:44 am
Cancer wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 8:28 pm le Guin's Tehanu and Tales from Earthsea (my favorites from the series, that do the seemingly impossible in improving upon the near-perfect original trilogy)
I intend to read those too. Such a long time between third and fourth, it was a good place to stop, in case I didn't read more.
I really hope they don't violate her legacy next. I predicted it would be done to Wheel Of Time, and that's not even important to me, just entertaining holiday reading. Since Le Guin was political, it's easy to predict what would happen with her work. What was counter-culture fifty years ago, is now official party-line.

Stylistically, Tehanu falls just short of the original three books: there are sentences, maybe even paragraphs in it that I would have written differently, and scenes which feel just slightly rushed. It's the ideas it introduces that make it great. If you don't like politics in your fantasy, be warned: it's essentially a feminist re-imagining of Earthsea, with harsh criticisms of the sexist institution of magehood and a focus on the kinds of people who are beneath consideration in the previous books (the main character is a non-magical widowed middle-aged mother, for instance). The book's treatment of Ged is amazing, the only kind of character development that could feel right for him.

Tales is in some ways even better, with no similar stylistic hiccups, just the full force of le Guin's mature talent combined with the updated, more egalitarian view on her world.

I didn't mention the final novel - The Other Wind - in my previous post, and that's because it's unexpectedly just horribly bad. After reading Tales I anticipated it to be of similar quality (it's written around the same time iirc), but apparently le Guin is an amazingly uneven writer. I was almost laughing out loud when reading it a couple years ago, and then just mortified with disappointment XXD. It's so overfull of rushed, half-baked, entirely non-subtle ideas that seem to come out of nowhere... And even so, the first chapter is really beautiful, just the kind of thing I initially expected! Truly a strange book.

***

The theme of fantasy as homecoming / consolation also makes me think of how fantasy media are the ones which most reliably allow me to feel certain intense, vulnerable emotions. I'm almost pathologically incapable of crying, for instance, at least in the presence of others, but there are many fantasy books and movies that make me tear up every time. Most of Miyazaki's movies - which are also otherwise good examples of this thread's themes - and certain scenes in LoTR... Eowyn & Merry killing the Witch King of course, Chihiro eating those rice cakes after having begun to turn transparent, and Moro's speech about adopting San in Princess Mononoke ("Now my poor, ugly, beautiful daughter is neither human nor wolf. How could you help her?"). Returning to these scenes feels like watering a plant that's almost wilted, or walking in the rain in spring. Like one is a human being again and not a collection of neural algorithms firing away in a serotonin-deficient brain. Markedly, Harry Potter inspires nothing like this in me despite my having read all the books as a kid and - reluctantly, because of Rowling's transphobia and the bad writing - generally loving them. It's maybe that, in order to tap into those deep emotions, a scene has to be truly sublime and artistically excellent in addition to feeling familiar and comforting. Or, in other words, that there must be challenge in it as well as comfort.
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Re: Fantasy and coming home

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Cancer wrote: Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:24 pm If you don't like politics in your fantasy, be warned: it's essentially a feminist re-imagining of Earthsea
It's kind of simple. Because I'm me, and not that, I can enjoy great storytelling whichever religion is casting it's shadow upon it. One of my favorite writers is China Mieville, a true Comrad. Another fave is Dan Simmons, who is right-wing. What matters is talent for writing, and imagination. I keep things simple, and leave the politics for the angry sheep.

Miyazaki is a topic I don't have time to get into right now. Fan.
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