Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chasing a Cultural Fantasy by Jane George 

My main character, J.J. Buckingham, in my novel X-It, is obsessed with both her mythological fantasy-image of New York and heroin-loving rock stars. She’s not alone in her fascination. From Frank Sinatra to Holly Golightly to Woody Allen and beyond, New York City has been the backdrop for a myriad of stories about people searching for a specific something that may or may not exist.

These quests often spring from personal and collective cultural mythologies and are not limited to books and movies but can be active in our own lives as well.. How do we get reality to mold to our fantasies, or not?
Let me give a few examples of what I'm talking about; a dream of an ideal cottage by the sea, losing that last five pounds so you look like a TV character does in her jeans, having a 'perfect' job, marriage, family, house etc. Of course, everyone's idea of perfect is different, even if only slightly in certain societal pockets. But collective life-fantasies exist and persist. Ralph Lauren based an entire career on them. If you have a tweed riding jacket, for that second when you slip into it, part of your psyche escapes to the parallel reality of Ralph's collective, horsey-country-club-fantasy exploitation. If that's what you want. That's a silly example, but these fantasy lenses are everywhere we look.

Copyright New Line Cinema
I loved this bit of dialogue from the end of the film PLEASANTVILLE:

David's Mom: When your father was here, I used to think, "This was it. This is the way it was always going to be. I had the right house. I had the right car. I had the right life."

David: There is no right house. There is no right car.

I think the reason these thoughts have been going around and around in the Jane-O-Matic is that the older I get, the less energy I have to pursue some vision of how I think things should be. How they should LOOK, mostly, if I'm honest. 

Cue The Dude's, "Aw, f--- it..."
Image from The Big Lebowski, Working Title Films
And you know what? The more I let go of a 'vision for the future,' I'm finding I'm more present in my actual life. I'm LIVING my life. The parallel dream-lives are fading and cracking like old celluloid. As an artist and writer, the best place for me to allow my dreams to rule is in my work.

While material objects may be molded to fit a pre-conceived notion, people don't cooperate. It's my family, friends and personal connections that have made my life, so far, Practically Perfect in Every Way.

Obviously, I’ve played with personal mythologies in my writing, and in my novel, X-It, what leads J.J. out of the dangerous fantasy maze she’s thrown herself into is the one real connection she makes with another human being. But she must first determine which relationship is the authentic one.

But don’t we all? And with all of the shiny, collective cultural fantasies at our disposal, sometimes that’s not so easy. I mean, there’s even a religion now called Dudeism so we can all throw in the towel together. For some reason I think I’ll be able to withstand the lure of White Russians, bowling, and clear plastic sandals. But give me an updo, a black dress, and a croissant and I just may have to eat it in front of the Tiffany’s window.

About the Author:

Author and illustrator Jane George lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a BFA in illustration from the California College of the Arts and has won awards for her art.

A dedicated writer for over a decade, she produces and publishes her YA fantasy and literary titles under her personal imprint, Paper Grove Publishing. Find out more at:

In 1980 NYC, eighteen-year-old J.J. Buckingham is an uptight trendoid. Working as a mannequin painter and a counter girl, she moonlights as a creature of the nightclubs. J.J. falls for aloof, crazy-talented artist and bicycle messenger X-It. In order to win his love, she succumbs to the dark machinations of drug dealer Marko Voodoo. X-It will love her if she’s the queen of underground Manhattan, right? Her plan backfires with horrendous consequences. J.J. must scrap her way out of a maze of drugs, clubs, and danger before she realizes she’s worthy of a better life. And true love might just come in the form of a clean-cut geek in Buddy Holly glasses.

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