Visionary Fiction’s Role as Catalyst in the Evolving Human Mythos – guest post by Gerald R. Stanek

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that those of us writing Visionary Fiction have had some sort of vision, be it a lucid dream, an unexpectedly successful meditation, a trip brought on by a substance outside the normal diet, or even a near-death experience. It may have lasted several hours, possibly a day or two, but more likely it was only a few minutes. Nevertheless, a mere glimpse beyond the veil is all that’s required to alter one’s consciousness. We are suddenly aware that we are more than; more than we had been taught, more than we believed, more than we could have imagined. We are aware that things are not as they seem, and perhaps more importantly (as a motivating factor), we are aware that things need not remain as they are, that if only more people were clued in to the true nature of reality, the manifested mundane world could be modified in ways that would benefit all beings. So we are driven to spend endless hours of our short time here on earth piling up words, in hopes that our work will open the minds of our readers.

I’ll go out on another limb and presume that as writers of fiction we have all learned the maxim: show, don’t tell. Yet how do we show the qualities we have come to know in that eternal moment snatched from the other side—timelessness, infinity, unity—given that our only tool, language, is linear, finite, and distinctive by nature? How do we convey a globe to Flatlanders at all, let alone without technical ‘tell-y’ explanations? We resort to magic and miracles, time travel, multiple universes, and other devices which can only dimly reflect the thing itself, the vision we had, whatever atemporal, metaphysical phenomenon instigated our Visionary Fiction writing to begin with. We can only stand back with the reader and say: this is what it looked like, this is what it felt like, these are the possibilities it promised, this is how I know I am you and you are me; hoping all the while that we can convince them not to give up on themselves, on love, on the Universe, or the One, or God, or however we attempt to name that thing that touched us in the vision.

If you think this is the part of the essay where I offer up answers to these intractable problems, you are sadly mistaken. Obviously, if I possessed the alchemy required to turn the ineffable effable, you would have heard of me. I have no new tricks for conveying the characteristics of transcendent states. I will however propose a strategy we might as a group apply to make our works more effective in the evolution of consciousness.

“The collective consciousness is altered through art.”

The collective consciousness is altered through art. New thought-forms may enter the mental body of humanity through nonfiction, proofs and academic papers, but the masses remain polarized on the emotional plane and are impressed primarily through fiction: movies, television, songs, and books. The popular self-help genre has done an excellent job of helping people to look at things in their own life differently, of seeing problems as opportunities, of seeing the ‘other’ as self—that we are in fact our own antagonists. Science, too, is doing its job, slowly but surely proving not only the interdependency of living things, but the indivisibility of the fields of energy which constitute the universe(s), and all beings therein. Yet the purveyors of fiction still insist that every hero has an enemy, that every story must have a winner, that every ‘other’ should be seen as a threat to be defeated or destroyed. How can humanity be expected to escape this stultifying pattern if they are not presented with alternatives in their entertainment? Read your child Little Red Riding Hood a few times, and they will be afraid of wolves forever.

If you seek to be published, common advice from the industry is to ramp up the antagonistic behavior in your plot, cut every scene without action, and keep the tension high. No doubt this does help to sell more books, just as ramping up the amount of corn syrup will sell more cereal. But what do we want to feed to the emotional body of mankind, to our readers, to ourselves? Perhaps it is true that no story can command the reader’s attention without a villain, but let us at least make an effort to change the nature of the relationship, to have the story end not with the elimination or defeat of the antagonist—be it tyrannical emperor, hurtling asteroid, or greedy black hole—but with its acceptance and integration within the heart and mind of the protagonist. The expansion of self is always an act of inclusion. If the goal of VF is to aid in the growth of consciousness, the protagonist and antagonist must recognize themselves as limbs of the same tree. Let us introduce a new model, establish a new thought-form in the noosphere. Why not frame the heroine at the beginning of the story as one who already understands—that there is nothing outside of herself, that thoughts are things, that things are beings, that all beings are interconnected, that individuals are essentially metaphors for one another—and see what happens from there?

     “Visionary Fiction writers are the vanguard of this evolution.”                                                                                                                                                  

Like it or not, as Visionary Fiction writers we are the vanguard of this evolution. We must not let the fear of being ignored by mainstream publishers, critics, or consumers keep us from changing the paradigm. If our readership is limited, at least those we do reach will have the opportunity to follow a new line of thought and slip out of the old dualistic archetype. Eventually a tipping point will be reached, the worldview of humanity will shift, and that which we have glimpsed beyond the veil will manifest in form.

 

 

 

 

 

BIO:

Gerald R Stanek’s latest works—The Road to Shambhala and Contact and Other Impressions focus on the interplay between the mundane and ethereal worlds, and the effect of transcendental experience on subjective reality. He has also written numerous children’s books, several of which have been illustrated by his wife, visionary artist, Joyce Huntington. The places they have called home: Tucson, Ithaca, Sedona, and Ojai provide the settings for many of his stories. To learn more visit geraldrstanek.com

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15 Responses to Visionary Fiction’s Role as Catalyst in the Evolving Human Mythos – guest post by Gerald R. Stanek

  1. Joanna Huckvale says:

    I am so glad this was the first thing I read today. It seemed like a cop out to just turn on the computer after feeding the cat, and not the best of ways to begin a new day. This great affirmation of my own experiences, so beautifully expressed, has turned all that around and encouraged me to work on the things my muse has already given me to do.

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  2. Totally agree with you and this is why I eventually went self-publish myself. My biggest wish is that we could see more visionary fiction in the TV and movie industry, but that kind of indie venture would take a lot of money.

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    • I agree that we need more depictions of expanding consciousness in mainstream TV and movies. I love movies, but once one decides images of extreme violence and hatred should not be invited into one’s psyche, it becomes difficult to find anything to watch. I have no doubt that the work of visionary writers will eventually make its way into the mainstream, it’s just a matter of time, and time, as we know, is an illusion.

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  3. reanolanmartin says:

    Very inspiring! Love the comparison of selling more books with amped-up antagonists/ism to selling more cereal with corn syrup. Yes, we are all one thing. The tension in realizing that and making it happen should be enough to hold a story together. Thanks for this great post, and the artwork is gorgeous!

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    • As a reader, I have always found ‘The tension in realizing that and making it happen’ more than enough to hold my interest. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one!

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  4. Love your insight. “The collective consciousness is altered through art.”

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  5. Paul Hill says:

    I recently had this very conversation with a friend who had just finished my book [Lanes End]. Probably worth quoting from my email to him:

    “I decided early on to make the story with a “happy ending.” Zacharias as the antagonist of course played a major role right up to the end. He didn’t “win” and the protagonist “lose,” so not a tragic ending. But Z. nonetheless is painted as an ambiguous character, initially evil but eventually good in the sense he made sure Odessa ended correctly. His mission was to use her for a purpose, and he accomplished that. I could have written him as inherently evil and out to do everybody (and humanity) in, but not his purpose. I think the best antagonists have elements of good and evil. So in my story its possible for an evil, sadistic person to still be altruistic. The Dark Powers are sometimes really Powers of Light, and vice versa. There is no black and white; its all gray and blurry.”

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    • Thank you Paul. Lanes End sounds like a well balanced tale. I’m glad you made the choice to keep Zacharias multidimensional. The more people read about characters who are not merely black or white, the more they will recognize that the people in their lives and in the news reports are not always what they seem as well.

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  6. Thanks, Gerald, for going “out on a limb” twice and explaining both the predicament–and joys–writers of visionary fiction experience in their attempt to “feed to the emotional body of mankind.” I find your last paragraph especially well said, as it ends on a note of hope. I checked out your website and am impressed with the “movement” there. Maybe someday you can share with our group how you accomplished that. I also love the “Circle of Love” illustration by your wife and visionary artist, Joyce. So, my thanks extend to her, too.

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    • Thank you, Margaret. As far as my website, it’s constructed with WordPress plugin Slider Revolution. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions regarding the design.

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  7. Nice piece, Gerald. The issue of the culturally accepted good-guy/bad guy is so very important to the visionary fiction genre. How do we create interest without this tension–all the time emphasizing the unity of us all– even the bad guys/girls.

    For me, this is THE major challenge of writing in this genre. Yes, we can “make” tension, but the prevailing culture wants to “annihilate” the “bad guys” rather than see them as part of an overall earthly malady that sees us and them all being healed in our “we-ness.”

    So fiction, with its powerful visions of possibility, in my view, must offer up a vision of “next-step-for-humanity” reality, in which the vision of conflict represents the possibility for the transformation of even the so-called enemy i.e., the possibility for our realization as one humanity, within a single, albeit currently distorted, consciousness of our one heart.

    Frankly, I have had trouble finishing the second book in my Harry Pond series precisely because of this problem. How do we share insights, unified-humanity consciousness, even, dare I say wisdom, within this culturally accepted — and oft times desired– good/bad paradigm?

    Gerald’s article provided impetus for me to write about these issues– thank you for that. The solution? For me it is to bear down even more on the need to allow extra creativy to flow through mein expressing the tension within the paradigm of our unity. Not an easy task, but one worthy of my effort.

    Thanks again, Gerald.

    Jay Luboff
    Author
    Harry Pond Looks Homeward
    The Spiritual Aventures of an Ohio Farmboy
    Winner–Indie Excellence Book Award for New Age Fiction

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    • I’m glad the essay struck a chord with you, Jay, and I hope it will spur you to finish your project. I believe we can—and must— express tension, excitement, and even action, without becoming mired in the evil villain paradigm. But it is a challenge. Good luck with Harry Pond.

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  8. Gerald, I love how you expressed something so important in your article – “The collective consciousness is altered through art.” Engaging our emotions, feelings, and soul, through various art forms, is how we truly evolve. And VF is in a unique position to do that.

    As author Toni Morrison says:
    “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

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  9. Victor Smith says:

    Thank you, Gerald, for your thoughtful and well written piece, and to your wife for the lovely art.
    It made me ponder something we’ve all slammed into since the beginning of the VFA: that the public so far has little taste for our art. In becoming visionary writers we commit not only to improving/perfecting our own work but must contribute to changing the public’s taste. Certainly, there is hunger for visionary art out there, but most people still try to satisfy it with the same old junk entertainment. Why we need our “alliance.” No one author this side of Shakespeare can single-handedly remold public taste. But together we have a chance.,

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