Fiction is where we want to live

Etymology: Middle English dreem, from Old English drēam: noise, joy
1 : a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep
2 : an experience of waking life having the characteristics of a dream: as a : a visionary creation of the imagination : daydream b : a state of mind marked by abstraction or release from reality : reverie c : an object seen in a dreamlike state : vision
3 : something notable for its beauty, excellence, or enjoyable quality
4 a : a strongly desired goal or purpose

It occurs to me that the most powerful draw of the dream state is that sensation of living within the realms of fiction. Fiction, at its best, transports the reader– even when a story does incorporate the mundane stuff of life, it does so with a purpose; it does so to move the story forward. An author may mention things like piles of bills, laundry, or a room in disarray, but the reader does not feel encumbered by the worry of such things, even if our protagonist must be. A dream goes one step further to either leave out all such things, or to transform them– perhaps into a more dire (and therefore more interesting) situation; or to place them within a context of outlandish proportions; or at the least to send the whole mundane lot down the rabbit hole. But more often, happily, such things don’t exist in dreamlife; more often one finds oneself in realms utterly foreign, yet with all skills necessary to navigate the strange. (Whether or not our dream self is aware of these skills is part of the fun, part of the adventure.)

That [a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep] is named by the same word as [a strongly desired goal or purpose] speaks to our universal desire to be outside of the here and now. While in the modern, post-industrial world, life for many has far fewer of the hardships that marked millennia of human history,  always the imagination finds reasons to wish for otherness, whether simple or profound.

What a beautiful etymological root: noise! joy!
(Webster must simply have forgotten the exclamation points–  surely they were there in the 13th century when the word was coined.)

2 thoughts on “Fiction is where we want to live”

Say some words!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.