A Materialist in Fairyland–Part 1

My recent reading has a included what are commonly called fairy tales. Fairy tales in this age are often associated with children. They are the sources for animated Disney movies or bedtime stores. It’s odd that this should happen. If you know the history of fairy tales you know that they are often not kid-friendly. They have become associated with children only after a bit of sanitizing by the authors who collected them. Part of the reason they have been directed towards children is they contain supernatural elements. The average fairy stories contain two realms. One is an ordinary common land like ours and the other is fairy land or faerie. The stories contain what happens when dwellers of these lands cross over into each others land. We are quite familiar with the ordinary realm. Like ours reality follow a fairly consistent, familiar set of rules. There are no unknowns. A tree is a tree and a star is a star. It is a materialistic kind of world.

Fairy land is another realm all together. It has rules and laws, but they are of a different nature then ours. Much is unknown. A tree maybe just a tree or it maybe one physical manifestation of a dweller of faerie. Not everything is as it appears. Of course there are the dwellers of fairy land. Fairies (J.R.R. Tolkien had strong held beliefs on the nature of faerie. The idea that fairies were small diminutive spirits was offensive to him. Read On Fairy-Stories if you want to get a better grasp of his ideas about fairy.), elves, dwarfs, trolls, spirits, and the like. Man is the stranger there. It is not his natural home.

As I said before, we often associate fairy stories will children. Who else would be willing to accept such silly stories about fairies, enchantments, maidens in distress and like nonsense? As adults we know the limits of the known would and these creatures do not exist. Therefore there is not much profit to be gained by read such stories. Better to read non-fiction books, magazines, and the news if you want to be rooted in reality. (The distinction between fiction and non-fiction books is one that I think is a peculiar trait of our society. Fiction as in stories that are not true and primarily valuable for pleasure or self-expression. Non-fiction as in containing the true facts about life and worth of serious reading for real purposes). Viewing fairy stories this way betrays a bit of arrogance. We assume that we know all that is important to know. Anything outside of this is not worth knowing. However, this is the mistake of the materialist. He doesn’t believe in the existence of the supernatural because he has no proof that the supernatural exists. Of course this is based on the belief that anything that appears supernatural has a materialistic explanation. His world is limited by what he believes possible. Something that appears to happen outside of this must be some how fitted in to his realm of possible. In essence, man or woman knows all there is to know. A bold statement. In fact, Tolkien relates the decline of fairy stories and there increased association with children with the exploration of the earth. As people explored and civilized the earth there were no more shadows for fairies and mythical creatures to dwell in. Man had explored everywhere he could with his natural senses and saw no such beings, therefore they don’t exist. Of course a natural being can only sense a supernatural being if it chooses to manifest itself in the natural realm.

In fairy land we get a kind of materialist’s hell. All the creatures he tried to shut out as boogies and shadows are real. He is the one that is in a way artificial and on the fringes. Imagine living your entire life in the disbelief of the existence of elephants, an aelephantist. Stories and rumors of their existence come down to you. However, they are disbelieved as, well “fairy stories.” Some people (uneducated and simpleminded) created the stories from mistaken glimpses of rhinoceroses or large trees swaying in the wind. At your weakest times you feel like maybe your beliefs are mistaken. Instead of examining them, the doubts are thrust away by will power. Imagine the terror at suddenly coming upon an elephant in the wilds of Africa as such a person. Something you have held off for so long has suddenly broken through your reality. Fairy stories are in this way a kind of attack of materialism. They proclaim that there is more than can be grasped with the five senses. That man doesn’t know all there is to know. People in fairy stories are always finding their worldviews broken. Suddenly the rules of reality are changed.


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