Yesterday I proposed the idea that online we are who we say we are, that the truth of us comes out in our writings and postings. This topic is interesting to me because of something else I’ve been thinking about — reality and truth, fantasy and lies. I’ve always wanted to know what is real, but what if nothing really is? Then isn’t fantasy the same as truth?
So many of us still love men or women who are dead. For all practical purposes — since they are not here on Earth and do not respond to our attempts at having a relationship or even just a simple conversation — what is the difference between that and someone creating a fantasy lover for oneself? Or a reader getting immersed in the fantasy of a romance novel? Or a writer falling in love with her hero?
Yes, I know there is a difference on a cosmic level, assuming the person still exists somehow. And even if there is nothing beyond this, there is the difference that they once were real while a fantasy never was. But here, now, in an everyday sense — is there a difference?
The other day I watched the Goldie Hawn/Steve Martin movie Housesitter, and though it gets silly in spots, the story of a woman who created a fantasy life that became real intrigues me.
Hawn’s character changed herself all the time, which made me wonder, do we have to be ourselves, or can we recreate ourselves on whim? And if we do recreate ourselves — recreate the story we tell ourselves of our past, our backgrounds, our way of acting — is it a lie or just a pre-truth?
A corollary to my question is how much truth do we owe people? If we lie to con them or cheat them, of course that is wrong, but is it the lie that is wrong or simply the con that is wrong? If you recreate yourself because it seems like fun or because you’ve come to hate yourself, if the game goes beyond a certain point, do you owe people the truth? But by that time, what is the truth? What if you’ve become the person you were pretending to be?
Sometimes I get the impression that life is eternally elastic, a kaleidoscope of ever dizzying permutations that we rein back with our collective fantasy of life here on earth. If it were possible to break out of that collective fantasy, what then can we become?
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+