The Utopian Glimmer of Fiction


Does anyone still believe in magic? In alchemy? Or, to put it in the language of adulthood, does anyone still believe their ideals can be turned into realities?

I heard a phrase the other day: “the utopian glimmer of fiction”.

It hit me in the most gentle and powerful way.

I found the phrase so relatable. I felt like I knew exactly what the writer meant by it. And, I think, it’s one those phrases you either get or you don’t get. There’s very little middle ground with this particular combination of words. The utopian glimmer of fiction means a lot to you or it means nothing at all.

The utopian glimmer of fiction means everything to me. It’s strange because, God, while it means everything to me now only a few days ago I didn’t have this phrase at my disposal. I didn’t even know how to articulate that what fuels me, the reason I don’t give in to the ennui of it all, is the utopian glimmer of fiction. (What else don’t I have the language for? What lingers in me repressed because I lack the skill to express it?)

There is a magical moment that happens when we are engaged with art. We are lifted. We get the sense that life can be something more. A fictional glimmer.

A line in a book so powerful that we feel like the words in our soul and bones. Words that makes us feel like the future is completely open, completely ours to design and make into whatever we wish to will it.

These words are who I want to be. These words are my identity and I’m perfectly content to become a martyr for the idea and sentiment they convey.

A certain chord of music that invokes in us a romantic sensation!

I will marry you and we will drink our coffee and write poetry together in our cabin by the sea and your hair will swirl as you run to me on the beach and your eyes will be so bright that I don’t see anything but light.

When I think about the utopian glimmer of fiction I think about that scene in Vanilla Sky when Sofia says — “every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.”

Because that’s what the utopian glimmer of fiction is; the idea that everything can be changed and modeled to fit an ideal vision of the world.

That the life we want is possible.

That the world we want is possible.

That the nightmare of our history — personal and historical — can be erased, and replaced with the pure magic of idealism.

The thing is it’s always a glimmer, a wavering light that while perceptible is too ethereal to grab and take under your possession. We have an abusive relationship with the glimmer. It’s an infinite tease: the muse leaving us as quickly as she took us.

Because then you’re here in your average everydayness and you know what Sofia said is not really true because Vanilla Sky is a movie, a pictorial novel — a flicker.

The world isn’t fiction.

The truth is there are chains. Things we can’t erase. Scars we must wear for the rest of our lives. Prisons built by genetics and environment.

A history that will always be this way, always have an impact on the present.

Every passing minute is not another chance to turn it around. We are what we are. Our utopia is only an idea, a ghostly glimmer.

But we cling to the ghost. And the ghost powers us.

Because while it isn’t real, the fact we can even for a second imagine the unreal makes it real enough. It has to be enough.