1. ITBA01

    ITBA01 Active Member

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    Is it okay to write a book that goes against your worldview?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by ITBA01, Mar 5, 2019.

    The book that I've been working on involves a lot of magic, which ties in to how the world works. I've studied a lot of occultism from the Renaissance and early nineteen hundreds, mostly because I wanted the magic to be like old myths. One of the main philosophies I used (to an extent) is Mentalism, which comes from Hermeticism. Essentially, it's the belief that the whole universe (including people) are part of a celestial mind, and that thoughts create reality. This is what allows for magic to be possible.

    My magic system isn't entirely like that, but it has a lot in common with it (along with a lot of other traditions from around the world that I've studied). However, in real life, I'm most definitely an atheist (I don't know if that's better or worse to religious fundamentalists than being an occultist). I find the theories that I've incorporated in my writing ludicrous, and even harmful when applied to real life (all of the third world countries that are plagued with superstition).

    I know it's fiction, but there are messages/morals that I want to get across with my writing. Would basing my world around a philosophy I disagree be harmful to that, or do you think I'm overreacting?
     
  2. Reece

    Reece Senior Member

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    I don't really think of magic as a philosophy. There is a reason it is marketed as fantasy.
     
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  3. ITBA01

    ITBA01 Active Member

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    Sadly, there are those who would disagree with you.
     
  4. Reece

    Reece Senior Member

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    I think you are going to be fine writing about magic and not actually believing in magic.
     
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  5. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Just because you base your story around a philosophy, or you base your story around a world based around that philosophy, doesn't mean you have to agree with it. It also doesn't mean you can't include messages about your chosen morality. Placing your story in that system gives you a solid angle to critique it.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm inclined to think that you're overreacting, in the context of your specific examples. Presumably in a fictional world with gods, the gods are real. In a fictional world with magic, the magic is real. The fact that you write about fictional gods and magic doesn't imply, in any way, that you actually believe in gods or magic.
     
  7. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    It's like opposition-editorial. Exploring the depths of what you don't believe gives you insight into what you do believe. It may reveal frailties in either, and show you where you can strengthen your faith.
     
  8. thiefacrobat286

    thiefacrobat286 Member

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    I study multiple religious belief systems even if I believe in some schools more than others, and really, I kind of suppose this whole quasi-pluralism thing is somewhat normal, at least these days. That being said, I tend to make my own kinds of educated guesses at the end of which interpretation may be the more correct one. Regardless, what you really believe is gonna come through in your writing anyway, even if it's just subconsciously expressed; you know, kind of like your literary themes or whatever. Just focus more on the creative process and it's details rather than legitimate philosophical concerns, since, in the end, we're sort of just writing fiction to entertain people more than anything else; and if we do end up teaching something else, I rather feel all that is pretty much just secondary to our artistic endeavor anyway--or, at least that's the way this issues stands with me.
     
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  9. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    Honestly, if you don't feel okay with positing fantastic things as real in the world of your novel, I'd question why you're writing fantasy at all.

    But one thing to bear in mind is that magic doesn't need to imply gods, at least not in the "benevolent supreme being" sense of the word. The inhabitants of your world might not see a meaningful difference between magic and science--after all, magic is clearly real in their world whether it's believed in or not. Or in other words, it's the physics of their world, and if appropriate for the tone of your story, it may be possible to study and master it in a repeatable and controlled (scientific!) way.
     
  10. ITBA01

    ITBA01 Active Member

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    I certainly agree with you there. Writers that put their themes above the characters are better off being public speakers.

    I decided to write it because I love mythology, even though I know it's fictional.
     
  11. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    Okay, this thread is pretty deep. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality does a good job of reconciling the conundrum that I see here. We don't actually know how the world works. Our knowledge of physics has barely scratched the surface, and from the little we can peer at this complexity through our theories of quantum physics, the true nature of reality is looking to be absurdly difficult for our puny human brains to understand. The scientific method is the most powerful tool that we have in understanding how the world works. Systematically observing the world around us and ascribing rules to it. If we witness things that do not make sense to our understanding of the universe, then we are wrong about how we understand it, and we can increase our understanding.

    I do not think that incorporating seemingly occult elements in your world will make it anti-intellectual. Whether your work promotes intellectual thinking or not will depend on how you approach this. If you build into your world a system of rules and characters who seek to understand it and question their assumptions, then you will be encouraging people to use their minds when looking at the world around them.

    (And, to add a few necessary disclaimers: this should not be taken to the point of being preachy, as that can present a problem with the enjoyability of the fiction. And also I'm not saying that everyone has to take this approach. Just that this is a good angle to take for anyone who is conscious of how their fiction approaches these topics)
     
  12. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    Why don't you simply give up on your closely held, completely faith-based belief in atheism and pretend you're agnostic long enough to write the book?
     
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  13. Beloved of Assur

    Beloved of Assur Active Member

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    I think you're overreacting. Most fantasy authors probably are not polytheists but much fantasy has a polytheist world.

    But in the end it all lays execution. The worst thought out story will shine if the execution is good and the best thought out and researched story will fall flat on its face, if the execution of it is really poor. And in honestly I have yet to hear someone going bunkers and killing someone with a sword because they read Tolkien or a Warhammer novel. I would actually advice to put a little faith in your ability to separate the story from your beliefs and the in the readers' intellectual maturity and ability to think for themselves.
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    The answer is “yes,” of course. You’d have a lot of works that never existed and entire genres decimated were it otherwise.
     
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  15. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    Who would be in a better position to understand magic than one viewing it from the outside? Gives you a nice overview.
     
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  16. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    Absolutely. I am an Anti-Royalist/Monarchist and a majority of my Main Characters are royalty, primarily the King/Queen or heir (and become the monarch)

    Though, they don't follow the "Traditional" mannerism of a monarch and are typically down to earth and good people. Remember, I am Anti-Monarchy, so I naturally see our real world ones in a negative light. :p .

    They address themselves as Leaders and not rulers, and generally work towards the benefit of all.

    edit: Oh! and also on sort of amusing note, my belief as a Christian does have some effect on my writing in that I have Arch Angel deities that represent different aspects of life. I wanted to make them Gods but was too uncomfortable with the idea, plus I prefer Arch Angels, and I do believe it works with my more deeper beliefs.
     
  17. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I'd say up to you. Are you going to feel bad about it? Like you're doing something wrong? Well then I'd say you shouldn't. From a practicality standpoint, if you're feeling guilty about what you write, I imagine that'd bleed over and it would make the book suffer.

    Do you feel okay about writing it even though it goes against your beliefs? Then go ahead. In my mind, having something be fiction and entertainment puts questions of morality into a more grey area. The 'should/shouldn'ts' are a lot less clear cut and a lot more up to the author.
     
  18. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Of course it's okay. In fact, it's a mark of a seasoned writer, to be able get into the head of a character completely different from youself. Do you think a writer has to have the seeds of psychopathy to write from the POV of a serial killer?

    I wrote a couple of short stories on this site about an assassin with no conscience, only a pragmatic self-interest and a lot of innate talent. I've never killed anyone in my life.

    And you'll never prove otherwise.
     
  19. Bolu Kai

    Bolu Kai Member

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    I love this. If my opinion matters, I think this is true. Writing in opposition to your worldview allows you to reflect on that worldview and may either fortify or reshape your worldview. A teacher of mine once preached to my grad school classroom that we need to consider every perspective in our professional careers. He used a water bottle to show us what he meant. I'll change what he said just a bit since I'm in the fantasy thread. The basic idea is still the same.

    Imagine your starving. You are living in a post-apocalyptic world and there is one gallon of water to share among you and 8 other survivors. I hold that gallon of water above your head; you're looking at the water from the bottom of the gallon. It looks full from that perspective and I'm saying it's full. I now ask you how I should ration this full gallon of water. You give me your answer. I now move the gallon so you can see it from the side. You can clearly see that the gallon is not full; it is only half full. I'm sure you are now thinking differently about how you should ration that water in order to make it last longer. The position you choose to stand in can reveal new information or change information you thought you knew. You may have thought that bottle was completely full and were perfectly content.

    Of course, all that is just another way of saying what Some Guy already stated perfectly.
     

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