I seem incapable of looking up the definition of a word…the subject of my last blog, “hubris” (“presumption towards or defiance of the gods”), in this instance … without finding within the definition a word that I also want to define… “god,” here. (“1. The creator and supreme ruler of the universe. 2. A superhuman being or spirit having power over nature and human fortunes.”)
So, using my usual circuitous reasoning, it occurred to me that under the dictionary’s definition, writers might be considered gods. And yesterday I began a blog positing that argument.
Hubris, indeed! Sacrilege! Blasphemy! The spirit of Tomas de Torquemada, a driving force in the Spanish Inquisition, tossing in his grave, demanding retribution. And while I am not the superstitious sort, I found it interesting that between yesterday and today, that blog comparing writers to gods vanished from my computer. Coincidence? Let us hope.
Yet here I am again, waving my hubris like a matador’s cape, Torquemada and his ilk breathing fire and pawing at the ground like angry bulls. But I stand my ground.
The writer’s claim to godhood is of course limited, in that it cannot be made unless someone actually reads his words. (And please excuse me if I insist upon using “he” to refer to “the writer” though women are also writers. I find the demands of political correctness cumbersome and infuriating and ignore them whenever possible.)
The writer, from the firmament of his mind and with words as his only tool, has the power to call forth universes, creates worlds, and people them. But his words have neither meaning nor power until and unless they are filtered through the reader’s eyes and brain—your eyes and brain. The writer creates the worlds; it is you who, by reading them, give them life.
Think for a moment of your favorite books: are the people in them any less real to you than the guy sitting across the aisle from you on the bus? That the worlds contained within the pages of a book may not physically exist—at least not on our plane of existence—is immaterial. That they are real to you is all that counts.
The writer has ultimate control over the worlds he creates and the ultimate fate of his characters. For myself, I do try to be a beneficent deity. I truly look on my characters as real people with a real existence of their own independent of me. Probably part of this is because I write to defy not the gods, but reality. I create worlds as I want them to be rather than being confined to the one which is. Dick Hardesty, as I have often said, is the me I would so like to be and, in the alternate universe of my books, am.
So the two of us, me as the writer god and you who turn my words into reality in your mind, are like yin and yang, two parts of a whole. I was going to use the analogy of Chang and Eng, the original Siamese twins, except for the fact that while you can exist without me, I cannot exist without you.
And I just this minute had another thought: could it be that in some unknown alternate universe, our own God is a writer?
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO