marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

a philosophical discussion of belief and folklore in fiction

One piece of world-building I've seen plenty of times in fiction:  that the magical creatures, the fairies, the elves, the what-have-you, are created, sustained, and molded by human beliefs in them.  They are what we think they are.

I've never liked it in itself.  It has one fundamental flaw if you know any folklore.

Namely, if it's true, it's false, and therefore can't be true.  Because if there's one thing that all the folklore agrees on is that the creatures really are there and independent of us.  (Or were there and went away only when they died or otherwise did something a real and existing being would do.)  So as soon as we believed in their real existence, they would be independent of our belief.  It they continued to be molded by it -- obviously some part of them is independent of our beliefs.

I can see their feigning it, as a disguise.  But not actually being it.
Tags: grumbles, world-building: creatures, world-building: enchantment

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