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.
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