Ideal worlds

A letter to my friend S. G. Collins:

Finally got a chance to read “A kitten at the feet of Olympia.” I don’t know what it is, but you keep creating characters that I want to fall in love with. Perhaps we have the same taste in women. One day we will meet our perfect woman, and have to fight over her. But I tire too easily and am too prone to living in fantasy, so you would win.

It’s more than that, though; it’s more than the people. It’s the world. You make worlds I want to live in. I always get this vague sense of desire when I read your stuff, like the first time I saw Amelie. I walked around looking at the world through Amelie-tinted eyes for days afterward, my sense of my own actual world a mere afterthought to the world in my head that I felt I was much more in accord with.

It is not as though these worlds are necessarily better, or that I think of them as somehow less prone to ugliness. On the contrary—the ugliness and imperfections within these otherwise beautiful worlds are what make them seem more attainable, what make them satisfy the former half of my pragmatic idealism. I have no interest in perfect Hollywood worlds, too far from my own to even comprehend. What I am interested in is a better lens through which to view an idiosyncratic world, a view in which surreal beauty can trump—if not outweigh—the ugliness, in which a film of beauty, potential, and hopeful curiosity falls over everything.

Maybe this type of thing can only happen in fiction, where worlds can be carefully constructed into consistency. Maybe “reality,” as I encounter it, is too chaotic, random, ambivalent, particularly as I lead a scattered, unsettled, inconstant life. But maybe said fiction can crystallize what I want my world to look like, to feel like, to smell like, which can then help develop my own more controllable lens.

In other words—thank you.

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