Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Because earthquakes are really dinosaur ghosts...

One of those friends that is really only a facebook friend - you know, the ones you haven't actually seen or talked to in years - posted a question I'm certain was meant to be humorous this afternoon. "If ghosts exist why aren't there dinosaur ghosts?"

A valid question.

Someone replied, "I think there are. They're called earthquakes."

Instantly, Foucault was gone and in his place was a herd (is it a herd with dinosaurs? a pack? a pride? lol) of dinosaur ghosts tramping about, leaving destruction in their wake. While the destruction would of course be horrible, the image was undeniably humorous, especially since all of my dinosaurs resembled Little Foot, Ducky, Spike, and Sarah. I didn't forget Petrie. He's just not big enough for stomping. I digress.

This whimsical diversion may seem detached from anything of consequence, but it got me thinking - always a danger, I know - what makes something real?

I'm a writer. The places, people, and events that I devise are mere imaginings. Or at least they are in one sense. To me, they are as real as the coffee table next to me where I've thrown Foucault to avoid "accidentally" spilling my turkey soup on it. Are they real? If not when I imagine them, do they become real when I write about them? When what I write about them is published? When they become characters in a film?

A little while ago I was listening to a song on Youtube and in the comments there was a heated debate between two of the commenters. One clearly believed in God, although whether he was Christian, Jewish, or Muslim I couldn't say. The other, clearly did not. The one that didn't made a statement that struck me as odd. He said, "You have a right to believe God exists if you want, but you're wrong. It's just an illusion that can't be proved. You can't see it or touch it, it's not real."

Why not? What makes something real? And who decides it?

Clearly I've been reading too much Foucault, but why can't Alice in Wonderland be as real as the Statue of Liberty? To me, something doesn't have to be corporeal or even visible to be real. If I can imagine it, it's real. Sometimes the imagined becomes real. I'm sure that the Statue of Liberty was imagined before it was built. Sometimes, it's real simply because you imagine it to be.

Being able to believe in the imagined is something you need as a writer. When writing academically imagination is discouraged to a large extent and I've struggled throughout my (albeit brief) academic career, with the need to prove, substantiate, and demonstrate. I don't disagree that this should be part of academia, but sometimes when I'm reading Foucault I'm wishing for a herd of dinosaur ghosts with all my soul.

I believe in ghosts. I believe in Neverland. I believe in dreams, imagination, and flying. I believe in superheroes. I believe that what I create can't be touched, but can be real. I believe that not everything real must be rational. I believe that someday the Remnants shall walk.

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