“Because We Are Written”

Brad East has been blogging a bit more recently.  His take on academics and AI is pretty genius (and something I’ve shared with a number of co-workers).  He also recently posted a piece on fantasy literature, comedy, and the question of God’s existence (and His allowance of evil).  His reference is a series I’ve not heard of anywhere else except in one or two of his posts.  But he says something about (fantasy) literature in general that I really like, the middle paragraph in particular:

For modern fantasy to avoid theodicy, it would have to embrace tragedy. Not darkness, not “grittiness,” not violence and sadism and gratuitous sex and playing footsie with nihilism. Actual, bona fide tragedy. I’ve not encountered fantasy that does that. And even then, if there’s a human author doing the tragedy-writing, there’s a case to be made that it can’t fully escape the pull of theodicy. It seems to me you’d have to go full Sartre and write a fantasy akin to La Nausée. But what world-building fantasist wants to do that? Is even capable of stomaching it?

We write because we are written. We make because we are made. We work providence in our stories because providence works in ours. We give the final word to the Good because the Good has the final word in our world—or will, at least; we hope, at least.

This is why every fantasy is a theodicy. Because every fantasy is a comedy. And comedy is a witness to our trust, howsoever we deny it or mask it, of our trust that God is, that God is good, and that God will right all wrongs in the End.

It reminds me of a quote from Anthony Thiselton that I fear I have totally misremembered but love anyway: history reminds us of what is possible; fiction reminds us of what is necessary.

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