Reality and Truth, Fantasy and Lies

untitledvYesterday I proposed the idea that online we are who we say we are, that the truth of us comes out in our writings and postings. This topic is interesting to me because of something else I’ve been thinking about — reality and truth, fantasy and lies. I’ve always wanted to know what is real, but what if nothing really is? Then isn’t fantasy the same as truth?

So many of us still love men or women who are dead. For all practical purposes — since they are not here on Earth and do not respond to our attempts at having a relationship or even just a simple conversation — what is the difference between that and someone creating a fantasy lover for oneself? Or a reader getting immersed in the fantasy of a romance novel? Or a writer falling in love with her hero?

Yes, I know there is a difference on a cosmic level, assuming the person still exists somehow. And even if there is nothing beyond this, there is the difference that they once were real while a fantasy never was. But here, now, in an everyday sense — is there a difference?

The other day I watched the Goldie Hawn/Steve Martin movie Housesitter, and though it gets silly in spots, the story of a woman who created a fantasy life that became real intrigues me.

Hawn’s character changed herself all the time, which made me wonder, do we have to be ourselves, or can we recreate ourselves on whim? And if we do recreate ourselves — recreate the story we tell ourselves of our past, our backgrounds, our way of acting — is it a lie or just a pre-truth?

A corollary to my question is how much truth do we owe people? If we lie to con them or cheat them, of course that is wrong, but is it the lie that is wrong or simply the con that is wrong? If you recreate yourself because it seems like fun or because you’ve come to hate yourself, if the game goes beyond a certain point, do you owe people the truth? But by that time, what is the truth? What if you’ve become the person you were pretending to be?

Sometimes I get the impression that life is eternally elastic, a kaleidoscope of ever dizzying permutations that we rein back with our collective fantasy of life here on earth. If it were possible to break out of that collective fantasy, what then can we become?


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+

7 Responses to “Reality and Truth, Fantasy and Lies”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    People are changing themselves all the time, to be the sort of person they want to be, or to be the sort of person others want them to be. To hide the truth from others or from themselves, for practical reasons or for whimsy (that last one is directed at Lady Gaga, the Queen of Changing). I think it’s just part of being human, whether it happens quickly or it happens over a long period of time.

  2. Writing Jobs Says:

    That was an excellent post. You have a wonderful writing style.

    Thanks so much for sharing it. I really enjoyed reading it very much. You have a wonderful day!

  3. mickeyhoffman Says:

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who sometimes wonders what’s real and what isn’t. When that thought hits me I get a visceral response, sort of like my brain is crossing its eyes. Yeah, I know that makes no sense. About the other stuff: Truth and lies surely exist but there are so often mixed together within a situation.

  4. Carol Wuenschell Says:

    Very interesting post. Definitely, trying to live up to an ideal can be transformative. I would say, you get credit for the transformation, but that you ultimately owe people the truth regarding any deception that was involved.

  5. Elaine Mansfield Says:

    Thanks for these thoughts, Pat. As I write about marriage, my husband’s death, and my life since, so much gets left out. How easy it is to idealize the past or omit things or glorify them. I have years of notebooks filed with day-to-day reflections of the “factual” experiences as they unfolded. Sometimes we were angelic. Sometimes we were at the end of our ropes. I try to be true to what was and what is, but I’ve come to believe with Buddhists that everything shifts and changes with no solid ground. So, here I am, trying to be real and feeling the impossibility of the task. Thanks for your blog and for your supportive posts on FB reminding me to be…something good or interesting that day. Mythic perhaps?
    With appreciation for all you share,
    Elaine Mansfield

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Elaine, Grief at losing a spouse is so very complicated for the very reasons you mentioned. For many people, When things got bad, they wanted out, and then suddenly, they were out, and they’d give anything to be back in. It’s hard not to idealize, to try to keep a realistic idea of what your marriage was like when you are flooded with grief and pain and angst. Relationships shift when both parties are alive, and they shift when one of the parties is dead.

      Most of our problems stemmed from his dying — that was so unbelievably difficult for both of us and it lasted for many years. I’m getting to where I’m okay with remembering the earlier times when he was strong and healthy and radiant, though for so long I thought that to forget his courageous struggles at the end dishonored him.

      I’m glad you see my status updates on FB. I enjoy picking one thing I’d like to be that day — sometimes it’s wishful thinking, and sometimes it’s to help me focus on what I need to accomplish.

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