Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reality is interesting

One thing that happened to me when I started reading science fiction at an age of 13 or so, was that I found that the world and society around me got more interesting. At least partly it actually was a result of reading SF. When you take two steps back from the ordinary and imagine other possible worlds, then you find that the world around you is also a world, with a lot of special and curious characteristics. There are all of the wonderful things that people build and do -- and the frightening things. And you live in the middle of it, and have first hand knowledge that would not be obvious to a time traveller from another era, or a visitor from another planet. You can shift your perspective, and see things with new eyes, and suddenly much of what you took for granted and boring is extremely relevant and maybe even exciting.

With this kind of experience, I loved the following, from Coraline by Neil Gaiman. This is when Coraline returns from her adventure. Remember that she goes exploring because she likes exploring, but also because her everyday life does not seem interesting at all.

Coraline could see trees and, beyond the trees, green hills, which faded on the horizon into purples and grays. The sky had never seemed so sky, the world had never seemed so world.
Nothing, she thought, had ever been so interesting.

Today's exercise: find something interesting! (I know I will.)

1 comment:

Elliot said...

Hmm. Very well said. I have considered that myself sometimes, more often as I get older. Things which bored me to tears as a kid have become more and more interesting. Reading about science makes me realize the complexity and oddness of the physical world; reading science fiction does that too, and also makes me puzzle over our particular society and culture and place in history. And it makes me want to study and understand that history - where we come from and what our options are in the future.

I used to read mostly fiction and my father would always say "It's good that you read but you need to read non-fiction!" And indeed as I age I find myself reading non-fiction more and more, to learn about this reality we inhabit. But it's still good to read some sf/f now and then to get an alternative view. :-)