English: Mainstream march, part of the October Rebellion demonstrations against the World Bank and IMF in Washington DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Having determined this much, let’s come to a conclusion. Firstly, that most of the acclaimed contemporary fiction has an element of fantasy in. Take Harry Potter with all the magic and the world of Hogwarts; or the vampire fiction raging the bookshelves; or the all time popular series of the Hunger Games, not to forget Artemis Fowl and the Eragon Series… Why is fantasy becoming so popular these days? Here’s a suggested answer:
Fantasy is a way of creating a new separate reality from the world we live in. It is a way to escape the really pressing real life problems, which cannot be run from living in the same world (thus a separate world.) With the world fast reducing to a global village, and problems being intensified and projected more than ever, the instinct to escape is becoming stronger day by day. However, literature does not work like that. All that is written, is in some form or the other, inspired, combined and exaggerated till it gives a sense of originality. The human mind is quite incapable of creating something out of nothing; thus even the most out-of-the-world fantasy has its roots, somewhere deep down, in the world we live in. A review claims “The Hunger Games” to have “unsettling parallels to the reality,” and no surprise, as it can easily be related to the manipulations of reality TV shows, the barbarous wars in Palestine and Afghanistan, the human survival instinct, and the successions of power in the world. So however much one tries to escape, one is always led back into this same confined space. Fantasy just catches a larger audience to make aware in the subconscious, and provides an illusion that is clearer than reality.
Thus, when we see such a constant trend of themes of rebellion in contemporary literature, and more so in fantasy, we are forced to think where in the society is its origin. There is no trouble answering this. Rebellion is everywhere in the society. It is in the “new wave” and the turn towards liberalism. It is in experimenting new things, seeking adventure, venturing into untrod parts of this earth, divulging into the deep seas and exploring the extra-terrestrial world. We live in an age where people want to see logic in age old traditions and practices. There have been times when people have been dominated for centuries by oppressive monarchs; now, they don’t bear it more than 20, 30 or 40 years. A tide of rebellion began in Tunisia and has spread to Syria in less than two years. There is an identification of “self” that is gaining ground now. With the increasing of human knowledge, is coming the increasing of human wants; wants of freedom, liberty, expression, an own personal space etc. etc. When the world seemed big, people were content with it; but now that it seems shrunk, people crave for a greater space…All this, and perhaps more factors contribute to the rebellion in the society.
However, now that it has seeped into literature too, it has become a formidable trend. Literature, besides reflecting the society, has its way of affecting it. I personally can hardly name a book that has not affected me in one way or the other. A writer, when he holds a pen, writes the future of the world. He is said to be one step ahead of time. Why? He does not (usually) have a crystal ball to help him in that? What he does is that he brings out, emphasizes and exaggerates something already present in the society; something that affects him, clicks to him, or maybe just registers in his subconscious. In print, that written theme or idea is caught up by others. The circle of effect of the “idea” increases, and it becomes more prominent in the lives of each of the individuals reading it. What is in the mind, finds a way out into the action of a person. When (as usually is), there is a writer among the readers too, the idea spreads further. From a single person to many, and from many to many more: a single “idea” becomes a dominant one. Gradually but eventually, the whole world takes its effect. That is why what a writer writes is so important. That is the reason that holding a pen is a sacred job; and that is the reason that trends in writing cannot be ignored!
When we find a trend of rebellion in the themes in literature, we have cause to be cautious, for this is the same very thing that our future holds for us. We don’t have crystal balls, but we have our pens and we have our minds. After we put them to use, there is only waiting and hoping that whatever sorts and causes of rebellions there be ahead of us, they be good…