Active Thinking Topic 27 -  Fantasy Is Both Necessary And Dangerous


Tuesday 15 March 2022, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Any replies to the organizer - thormay@yahoo.com

Venue: ZOOM online


Focus Questions

1. We indulge in fantasy, but are persuaded by delusion. When & where does fantasy shade into delusion? Examples?

2. Do you ever find yourself in the middle of psychodrama daydreams? - e.g. your mind has drifted from some boring task and you find yourself playing superman in some exotic scenario? .. or perhaps exacting revenge ... or ... well what? Why do we experience this kind of stuff?

3, Why is crime fiction (fantasy) so popular?

4. People in positions of power are prone to acting out their fantasies where other people, organizations or even other countries are just stage props in the drama. When does this sort of thing get out of control? How can it be stopped? Note that a very high proportion of leaders in every field have strong sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies which lack an emotional dimension restraining the rest of us. (Vladimir Putin anyone? There are countless mini-Vlads ..)

5. Pet owners often seem to fantasize human qualities in their pets. Why does this happen? Is it good or bad for a) pets; b) humans

6. A big part of humanity has always fantasized about food and drink. These fantasies take many forms, from pride in national cuisines, to myths about "super-foods", to the supposed qualities of alcohol (e.g. "alcohol has been having ugly people to have sex for 3000 years"), to the sheer camaraderie of shared dining. What are the pluses and minuses of these gastronomic fantasies? [Disclaimer: Thor eats first for nutrition & economy, and is hence not part of the human species].

7. Would a world devoid of fantasy actually be human? Are there cultures/countries or occupations where fantasy is ruthlessly pruned? What is the consequence of such pruning?

8. The manufacture of fantasy is often outsourced to the imaginations of 'creators', while flocks of consumers are content to be anaesthetized by such off-the-shelf fantasies. Fantasy in this mode is similar to spectator sport. What are the good and bad aspects of living out manufactured fantasies?

9. Where does our identity live? Who are you? Do you cease to be you when some mental condition like dementia has you no longer recognizing the people around you but persuading you that you are in another time and place (maybe some earlier part of you life, maybe something else). I have seen this happen to a relative. Is the mental patient fantasizing, or are you a fantasy to them?

10. Can imagination be learned or is it inborn? How can imagination be disciplined and directed in useful directions? How does imagination blend the known with the as yet unimagined? How does truly creative fantasy differ from run-of-the-mill shoot-em-up revenge fantasy?

Extra Reading

"When goodness is lost, there is morality" [Lao Tzu]

Wikipedia (2022) "Imagination" @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagination 

Shen-yi Liao and Tamar Gendler (2019) "Imagination". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosopy @ https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/imagination/ 

Wikpedia (2022) "Solipsism syndrome" @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism_syndrome  [Quote: "Solipsism syndrome refers to a psychological state in which a person feels that reality is not external to their mind. Periods of extended isolation may predispose people to this condition. In particular, the syndrome has been identified as a potential concern for individuals living in outer space for extended periods of time"]

Tao de Haas (18 June 2014) "The Importance Of Imagination". AboutMyBrain @ https://www.aboutmybrain.com/blog/the-importance-of-imagination 

Olivia (5 November 2011) "Difference Between Imagination and Fantasy." DifferenceBetween @ https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-imagination-and-vs-fantasy/  [Thor, comment: I'm not entirely convinced by the argument in this short piece. Think critically. ]

Stephen Juan (19 May 2006) "Which comes first: imagination or fantasy? And what's the difference between the two?" The Register @ https://www.theregister.com/2006/05/19/the_odd_body_imagination_fantasy/ 

Thomas Clavin (July 28, 1996) "The Good and Bad of Indulging in Fantasy and Daydreaming". The New York Times @ https://www.nytimes.com/1996/07/28/nyregion/the-good-and-bad-of-indulging-in-fantasy-and-daydreaming.html 

BBC (6 January 2022) "Study finds avid fantasy football fans face mental health risk" BBC @ https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-59881432 

Mae Thornton (Jan 10, 2018) "The Psychology of Fantasy : A chat with two psychologists about fantasy and our brains as kids — and as adults". Cosgrrrl.com @ https://cosgrrrl.com/the-psychology-of-fantasy-b871f29b3ef5 

Peter Pomerantsev (27 February 2022) "Vladimir Putin: What’s going on inside his head?" The Guardian @
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/26/valdimir-putin-russia-ukraine-inside-his-head

Stan Grant (25 February 2022) "Russia's Ukraine invasion is not just about borders or power. For Putin, it's about identity". ABC @ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-25/russia-ukraine-invasion-borders-power-vladimir-putin-identity/100858372  [Quote: "The West has been dragged into the wars of identity. Think of the last few decades. The ethnic cleansing of Rwanda, the conflict in the Balkans and the break-up of the old Yugoslavia; the blood feud of Shia versus Sunni Muslim, Hindu against Muslim, the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar. "Who are you?" is the most dangerous question in the world. These are wars never won. After two decades in Afghanistan, the US fled, leaving the Taliban to return to a country lacerated by identity conflict. ... The French philosopher Jacques Derrida spoke of those "who have bread of apocalypse in their mouths": those filled with vengeance and grievance, haunted by the past who see only unending catastrophe. Western modernity holds no allure for them. Putin has Derrida's "bread of apocalypse" in his mouth. He has unleashed a war of identity on Ukraine to stop its drift to the West, break its will, and in no small part to enact revenge on Western nations he believes have humiliated Russia".] [Thor, comment: We've met this before, and it is always a recipe for tragedy. "Beware the man of one book" said St Thoma Acquinas (1225-1274). Putin is on a jihad, and his mental problem is a weak imagination with a ruthless determination to cripple anyone with more imagination. He has bought the kool aid of a simple, "pure" mythological past (in his case, courtesy of a regressive Russian Orthodox Church). For all the fancy military hardware, he cannot imagine a modern, liberated, pluralistic Russia. To prevent that he'll happily leave the world a smoking ruin and die in a bunker. Shades of Hitler.]

Wikipedia (2022) "Fantasy" @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_ (psychology)

Halfbakery (to 2022) An ongoing blog of half-baked ideas, inventions etc @ https://www.halfbakery.com/index-recent-by-date.html 

Chindogu (n.d.) A website for (Japanese) inventions. To qualify, the inventions must be useless. @ http://chindogu.com/ics/ 

Thor May (2009) "Aesop's Fables in Easy English" @ http://thormay.net/lxesl/aesop/aesopintro.htm  [Thor, comment: These fables, which I re-wrote for English learners, are easily the most popular files on my website, and the users come from many countries. I have concluded that Aesop's imaginary tales are a living illustration of the powerful way that fantasy can illustrate both universal values and our lived experience]

"Russian Church Leader Appears to Blame Gay Pride Parades for Ukraine War". Moscow Times (March 7) https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/03/07/russian-church-leader-appears-to-blame-gay-pride-parades-for-ukraine-war-a76803  [Thor, comment: As usual God finds himself/herself approving both sides of a war. The Russia Orthodox Church leader, Kirill is one of Putin's closest advisors, and by some accounts was once like Putin a KGB agent himself. Putin was secretly baptised by his mother and is "devout". His father was an atheist. Several years ago the Ukrainian Orthodox Church split from the Russian one. This is a big deal in Ukraine since Ukrainians as a group are more attached to religion than most Russians. Revenge for this rejection seems to be part of the fuel driving this conflict in Putin's mind.]


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Fantasy Is Both Necessary And Dangerous  (c) Thor May 2022

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