I don’t play video games.
I have friends who do, and I hope they won’t be angry with me for what I’m about to write. It applies to me, and not necessarily to anyone else. But I don’t see the point of them. I don’t want to spend time going into a secondary reality if, when I return to this reality, I haven’t brought something back — some wisdom, some sense of beauty, something that has changed me and that I can use to change the primary world I live in.
As soon as I use the term “secondary reality” here, you know I’m referring to J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories,” in which he says that when we tell stories, we are creating a secondary reality we can enter. He justifies fantasy by saying we are allowed to create things that don’t exist, that those things may indeed have a greater reality than things in our primary world. Pegasus may be more real, in a sense, than the Chrysler building. I’m not so sure about the Chrysler building, actually, because it’s developed its own mythology. But I’m pretty sure that Pegasus is more real than the stock market. Perhaps being real isn’t predicated on actually existing. Odysseus feels real to me, as does Little Red Riding Hood.
What I’m trying to get at, I guess, is that some things feel real and important, and some things don’t. Daffodils and fairy tales do. Video games don’t, and much of contemporary popular culture doesn’t either. I know this is terribly subjective.
Video games and myths are both part of the continuum of the fantastic, and indeed video games can be based on myth. Could it be, then, that what I’m talking about has to do with the difference between Carl Jung’s idea of the collective consciousness and the collective unconscious? That video games are part of the collective consciousness, while the old myths reach much, much deeper than that? I’m trying to explain this intellectually, but really what I’m trying to explain is an instinct — a sense for the relatively realness of things. I always feel a little sick when I’m in a place that feels completely unreal to me. Being a corporate lawyer was like that. My work was consequential, certainly. But it felt unreal.
My goal in life is to live as real a life as possible, which includes those things that are fantastical but feel real to me. So I want a garden with daffodils in it, the old-fashioned kind that have such a sweet scent. And I want to read fairy tales, and write them. I want to wear clothes, not costumes, but I want them to be both modern and beautiful, which really means timeless. I want to eat fruit and vegetables from my garden. I want to hear birds, and streams, and the wind in the treetops.
I live in a large city, so I can’t have everything I want right now. But I’m trying to make life as real as I can. Until I can live here:
That, in case you haven’t guessed, is my witch’s cottage. Someday, I will live in a cottage like that, and write my books, and make magic . . .