Faërian Drama

Today my good friend Andy suggested I read a wonderful and deeply thoughtful essay On Fairy Stories, written by JRR Tolkien in 1947. One paragraph in particular jumped out at me.

To clarify, “Secondary Belief” in the paragraph below is a literary term which refers to what a reader is asked to accept as real within a fictional world (eg: the existence of dragons).

“Faërian Drama”—those plays which according to abundant records the elves have often presented to men—can produce Fantasy with a realism and immediacy beyond the compass of any human mechanism. As a result their usual effect (upon a man) is to go beyond Secondary Belief. If you are present at a Faërian drama you yourself are, or think that you are, bodily inside its Secondary World. The experience may be very similar to Dreaming and has (it would seem) sometimes (by men) been confounded with it. But in Faërian drama you are in a dream that some other mind is weaving.

Note how Tolkien pairs storytelling with full body sensory immersion.

It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing he has postulated immediately suggests a certain recently fashionable hi-tech medium.

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