“The more lucidly we think, the more we are cut off: the more deeply we enter into reality, the less we can think.” –C.S. Lewis, Myth Became Fact, World Dominion
In a sense, we fiction writers should love this quote. I know it’s true that the more reality I have to stomach in a given day, the less I’m able to think, really think, like this lucid way he’s suggesting. And conversely, I know what it’s like to feel cut off after emerging from the vacuum chamber of a story, bleary-eyed and squinting at the light as I try to acclimate.
But I don’t think that’s what he’s intending here. The context is of the deeper reality, the one beyond this physical world. In the spiritual world no human rationality or intellect can serve. It’s similar to the alternate world I create as a fiction writer, but wholly different. Heaven provides inspiration in how dissimilar it is to my waking reality, though I can’t claim to know it fully–or even partially. It’s a world only imagined beyond words.
And the greatest hope I have is that that place I’ve never seen is waiting for me to wake up to it, hoping I’ll remember as I strive on in my daily business. There are times I feel such strong hope for that spiritual reality, I want to disappear and wake up there, as though I’d never left. If it didn’t exist, I wouldn’t want to write. For me, that other reality is the point. Writing is a way for me to try to bring something of that world back, to capture what little spark of it I can before it disappears again and we all have to get up and go about our busy lives. Like an addict, the more time I spend seeking it, the more I want to escape to that deeper reality.
But I can’t just stay there. I have to bring what I know of the struggle to bear on my writing as well. It’s that struggle between this dirty place and that real one that makes me know I’m alive. The contrast is an inspiration in itself: that inescapable pull between light and dark. That’s where we live and die as humans and as writers. Either we see it and we render it, or we ignore it and forget it’s there.
It’s only when I’m seeing both this world and the evidence of that greater one that I feel the weight of my calling and the gravity of my existence. And it’s at that moment, right then, when I have to write and write into the empty space, filling it with all my alternately stinking, shining words, trading my life and my world for the deeper one until everything melts away and my mind grows quiet and my senses grow stronger, and its only the flying stream of words that’s stopping me from disappearing.