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Fantasy and Reality by Raksha

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Raksha's Rantings ... from Issue 31, Spring/Summer 2001


Indulge me again. Those of you who have been to my lair and lived to tell the tale, have met my dog. Those of you who share late nights on the Mushes with me, have heard me sign off with mention of him, waiting to be taken out one more time before bed. The rest of you are about to meet him now. Topaz is a cream-honey-golden 8-pound Pomeranian, a great big guard dog in a conveniently portable package. His mortal nemesis is the UPS truck, which he drives away with a barrage of ferocious barking, though he takes offense at any vaguely Autobot-shaped thing that passes his field of vision outside the window. (I have tried to explain to him, though to no avail, that there's such a thing as a Stunticon as well, and they're on our side...) He has been afflicted with mild epilepsy since puppyhood, but seizures are few and far between. At eleven years of age at the time of this writing, he is active, alert, affectionate, and enthusiastic about life.

I have long been struck by a poignant phenomenon when we walk. Should we spot another dog, across the field or across the street, or peering out from a fenced yard, Topaz will strain at his leash, his every other thought forgotten, his entire attention focused toward getting over there and meeting that other dog. If the other seems friendly and their parent is willing, I try to let them meet up. I know, after all, what it feels like. The realization that over there, just beyond reach, embodied by a tantalizing shape, is one of "your kind." The desperation to get back to where you truly belong. No matter how good Topaz has it, no matter how cherished and included and indulged he is, the veneer of his daily life vanishes in an instant with the realization that "over there is someone of my kind; that is where I should be."

I have experienced it myself, upon seeing predators in action on nature documentaries - lone hunters in wild places, reptilian or canine or feline, the distinction doesn't seem important. A memory of heat and silence, a steaming forest, a scorched wasteland. A yearning for some home I never knew, a drive that calls me back to the jungle, to some time when the continents were positioned differently than they are today. The stranger-in-a-strange-land syndrome in the human world, the acute sense of walking on enemy ground, going through the motions, having through constant repetition numbed myself - almost, but not quite - to the horrifying alien-ness of it all. The unlikely shadow of a hope that somewhere, out there, is "my kind" after all.

I felt it when I first saw the Decepticons in the cartoon: the immediate sense of kinship. The incredulous excitement of having come upon "my kind," the long-lost friends and family. This is what I mean when I say that I have been a Decepticon since before I ever knew who they were. I mean that my personal worldviews and philosophies, my individual evaluation of right and wrong, good and evil, admirable and detestable, had been concurrent with the Decepticon mindset all along. Believe it or not, my favorite color was purple well before I had ever heard of the Transformers. It was only inevitable, then, that I should consider myself almost immediately part of the team.

There's a problem with all of this, of course. The Decepticons are fictional beings. As unfortunate as the fact may be, there is a strength in this as well, a great advantage. I am an individual who almost invariably prefers the fantasy to the reality - who likes to recall having "been there," but doesn't necessarily enjoy the travel while it's happening. Who has found the wisdom in Mr. Spock's words that "having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting." How quickly the perfect fantasy is spoiled by the reality, the little everyday hassles and problems, the major and minor inconveniences of living. How easily one finds drawbacks in the perfect job, the perfect home, the perfect relationship. The perfect idea, the exciting creative vision, runs aground against the most trivial of practical constraints. One works with what one has, of course, and perseveres and none the less builds something of lasting value. But it's the unattainable fantasy that drives the reality, that eternal sense of dissatisfaction between what is and what should be. Those who haven't allowed themselves to be totally beaten down by the demands of conformity, spend a great deal of their time trying to make the reality match the vision. Take the fantasy of the one perfect, unflawed issue of Con-Quest. I have never yet achieved it. But without the fantasy in mind, I wouldn't continue to try.

* * *

Topaz, after he has greeted the dog across the street, draws back as though not knowing what to say further or how to respond from there - back to his "real world," back to me. The fantasy of a faraway time and place, is surely more pleasing than actually living it, with all of its dangers and discomforts. The fantasy of the perfect friends/family/team-mates, is surely more compelling than real ones who let you down. What a shame it would be, after all, to see the Decepticons sullied by reality. So in closing out the theme from the last few issues - What if the Decepticons were real? - I will concede that it may not be such a bad thing in the end, to content oneself with the fantasy. Besides, it's not like we have a choice on this one.

--Raksha the Plumed Serpent