Adults are Just Obsolete Children

Seuss

Seuss

The loveliest thing about children is that they haven’t yet been programmed to keep their imaginations in check. When her Snow White barbie doll died from drowning in a slime pit, my three-year old daughter conducted a burial with a prayer that included a list of species I’ve never even heard of. It was the best, most inappropriate funeral I’ve ever been to:

Snow White Dead
Goodbye Snow White. May there be many, many dwarfs where you’re going.

It’s quite useful to knock imagination out of children though. It’s easier to educate when education consists of the acquisition of knowledge and not the creative and progressive application of it. It’s also much easier to manage a workforce when it involves giving them a job to do and then some cash when it’s done. Mega empires have been built using people with no imagination.

But empires have never been built by people with no imagination. Everything you see around you, every human-made innovation or clever contraption once existed only as a vague notion. Imagination is the force of creation. And you simply can’t access imagination if you’re living in a pit of dogma, limitation, routine and drudgery. That’s not how children live.

I was one of the lucky ones – my mother’s response to difficult questions was never “because I say so” but “why don’t you use your imagination and figure it out?

E.A.A Wilson is an author, minister of metaphysics, mom and reluctant bureaucrat. Her comic fantasy novel “Ascension Denied” is set in purgatory but is nonetheless available to the living, now, online, at all major retailers. Stay in touch through:

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What’s the Point of Fantasy?

I had the chance to travel up to visit Piers Anthony, the legendary creator of Xanth, at his home in Florida. The trip itself was as fantastical as one of his Xanth novels (and his fans will know how Florida-esque his settings are!). My producer and I drove across thick swamp and through curtains of Spanish moss hanging like eerie cobwebs till we reached his house – an enormous yet ghostly colonial style house draped with the accumulation of years of drifting swamp life.

I stepped out of the car and was first struck by the silence, being so far from civilization of any sort. And then I realized how wrong I was – the noise was incredible! Crickets and cicadas were buzzing everywhere in the canopy above, frogs were yelping from the swamps, and who knows what that crunching sound was… I almost wet myself.

I had a couple of reasons for being there – first, I wanted to interview Piers to understand how he builds fantasy worlds from scratch. We’re producing this brilliant fantasy game called Mystic Searches, which is playable both on the original NES and on modern consoles, and Piers was a massive inspiration to my own hero, Joe Granato, who’s heading up The New 8-Bit Heroes project.

But I was also there for a selfish reason. As a fellow fantasy author, I couldn’t wait to ask Piers what he thought fantasy was all about. What’s the point? Why do we invest so much of our passion in something fantastical? Why do we feel so compelled to read and write complete paracosms, building elaborate universes that will never see the light of day?

I asked Piers, a 21 times bestselling fantasy author (his credentials are ok), and he said:

I just love that so much. Not just the sentiment of escapism, but the passion in Piers’ eyes when he explains it.

I do think fantasy goes yet beyond escapism though. Most importantly to me is our mind’s power to create, and fantasy is such a diamond tool to practice the important skill of creation. Unlike other animals we develop everyday theories of the universe surrounding us. We construct and revise theories about physics, psychology and the esoteric. We understand the world and other people more accurately through this kind of theorizing.

Theorizing and fantasizing are the same thing! A theory, in science or in everyday life, doesn’t just describe one particular way the world happens to be at the moment. Instead, it tells you about the ways the world could have been in the past or might be in the future. This is why fantasy is so profoundly powerful and adaptive. It not only explains the world we see but it lets us see other worlds, and through the power of our marvelous minds we make those worlds come true. We slaughter problems like they’re wayward dragons, we respond in a flash to complex situations, we’re the heroes of our journeys! And look what we achieved. We changed the world by fantasizing. Everything you see around you, from the terracotta flowerpot your phallic cactus stands in to the complex electrical system hidden behind your vanilla linen walls, was once as imaginary, as unreal, as fantastic as Middle-earth, Hogwarts, Discworld, Xanth and my own Eadar. The future is fantasy, and I just love living in it!

Oh, and Piers asked me for a signed copy of my comic fantasy novel, Ascension Denied! What an honor it was to send him the very first autographed paperback! Piers Anthony signed copy

E.A.A Wilson is an author, minister of metaphysics, mom and reluctant bureaucrat. Her comic fantasy novel “Ascension Denied” is set in purgatory but is nonetheless available to the living, right now, online, at all major retailers. Stay in touch through:

E.A.A WILSON INTERVIEW: Epicstream meets author of novel deemed “too controversial”

E.A.A Wilson

Epicstream

Originally published on Epicstream May 26 2015.

What would an Egyptian goatherd have thought watching the great Exodus led by Moses? What if you were to be sacrificed in the morning, and were looking forward to it? What if there is an afterlife – what would you bring with you from this lifetime? What if the next life is just like this one? These are the questions that author E.A.A. Wilson pondered upon when writing her comic fantasy book, Ascension Denied, the first story in the open-ended Jacob’s Ladder series.

Wilson wanted to write what she truly believed in: The inevitability of death, the pointlessness of striving for any goal other than our own, and the existence of angels. She loves the way Douglas Adams discusses religious topics and Terry Pratchett’s thrilling way of squeezing our preconceptions about religion, business, and the mundane. Here’s the synopsis for Ascension Denied:

Purgatory is in trouble. Strange deals and corruption are preventing the dead from ascending to their final resting place. The ferryman is still bringing daily loads of freshly perished souls to the shores of the afterlife. Guardian angels are rebelling. But worse, the mayor has restricted all afterlife beer-drinking. What is the point of death if not to enjoy the fact that liver disease is no longer a threat? Alice Shepherd, who has only been dead for five years, finds herself at the helm of a band of activists determined to set things straight. But can Alice unclog the system before the streets are overrun by dead people? And what happens when two drunk guardian angels accidentally open the doors to Hell?

Interview with E.A.A. Wilson


Why do you think “Ascension Denied” is considered “too controversial for Americans”? Did you expect to get that kind of reaction from you readers? 

Religion is always a sensitive topic, especially when you get a pair of garden shears and clip away at some of the world’s favorite age-old institutions and slap it into a comic fantasy. But I was delighted to find (as I’d expected) that the publishers who feared Americans couldn’t take this sort of satire were completely wrong. Readers are intelligent, broad-minded, creative and questioning. Since the beginning of the written word readers and writers have come together to put question marks around the pillars that hold up stagnant dogma. And when you wrap it up in a hilarious fantasy story, it’s a winning combo.

Tell us something interesting about the characters in “Ascension Denied”. 

One of the interesting things I discovered about my characters is that dead or alive, angel or human, all wildly different, they all seem to share the same weakness: A fear of their ability to handle what they believe they’ve been assigned to do. The intriguing thing is how they handle that fear, regardless of whether or not it’s valid. Take Mayor Jagger T. Fleisch for example. He is simply terrified of our heroine Alice Shepherd, and has implemented a stringent bureaucracy to keep purgatory under his control. In between drags of his soggy cigarette filter, his lipsticked pout barks condescending orders to assert his authority, sending him into fits of juicy coughs. He would do anything to increase his power. On the other hand, Raen-El, a guardian angel brimming with divine might, is crippled under the responsibility of protecting the living. He knows that every piece of advice he whispers will send ripples of cause and effect like aftershocks through the present and future of every living human. He would do anything to quit his job.

How is the world of Eadar different from Earth or other versions of the Purgatory from other pieces of literature? 

Since Eadar, like Earth, is manifested by the mind viewing it, it’s very similar to both our world and other literary and mythological depictions of purgatory. Apart from the fact that the world is shared by dead people and guardian angels, there are some striking parallels. We have a tendency to create the reality we expect, don’t we? To that end, it makes sense that the experience of purgatory depends entirely on the poor soul that had perished. For example, the capital city of Anglarnir is a buzzing metropolis, filled with the paperwork, traffic, pollution, vandalism and nicely manicured public spaces that the general masses require to feel at home. Inland stand great silver mountains with the magnificent Mount Olympus at their summit. The rolling green hills of the Garden of Eden surge and swell as far as the lush meadows of Folkvanger. Industrious quarries and mines in the country of Asgard in the north lie in the shadow of the great structures of Valhalla presiding. And the world’s curvature sits like an event horizon at the end of the never-ending turquoise seas of the great Styx, waves twinkling in the Light as they separate the dead from the living. But the way in which Eadar is most similar to our world, is that its inhabitants are still searching for something. That’s what is so great about fantasy–we use the fantastical to explore our own realities.

How do you portray religions and deities in “Ascension Denied”? 

In “Ascension Denied” beings that were worshiped as deities by the living are in fact misunderstood angels. Odin-El, for example, has a fairly good relationship with the dead Vikings that still hang around Asgard. Zeus-El still wreaks havoc with the Greeks. But their commonality is that they still really have no idea about Prime Source. You see, while I don’t reject any religion or claim any one belief system to be truer than another, I do like to think that the mysteries of the most high can’t be explained by any of us, dead or alive. That’s what makes it fantasy. So I leave the question open for debate.

Does your fiction reflect your religious beliefs in some way? 

I think so. When I started writing I was solidly agnostic, but the process of exploring these concepts required a lot of painful introspection. Through fairly intensive studies of theology, quantum theories, myth and legend, I found myself staring into my own spiritual awakening, so to speak. Most uncomfortable at the time, but one of the best things that ever happened to me. I went on to completing ministry studies and am now a practicing minister of metaphysics. The book doesn’t seek to influence one way or the other, but I think it’s impossible for any author to write from the heart without investing at least some of your convictions into the voice of the story.

How are angels depicted in “Ascension Denied”? 

Despite being celestial creatures the angels are like us: still flawed, still searching, still evolving. Their superior insight and metaphysical abilities don’t change the fact that their responsibility is enormous – particularly for the guardian angels: They face consequences of unimaginable magnitude when they screw up. It’s a pretty hefty job, looking after people. And yet, of course, there is comfort in knowing that somewhere out there exist beings far more evolved than us. I guess we just didn’t realize how much beer they drink, but then, can you blame them?

Why do you think your characters share that same “fear”?

I think we all do. We’re torn between “follow your dreams” and “this is your lot, make do”. Throw in a bit of guilt-tripping and some stern words of advice from our elders, coupled with absolutely no idea what happens next, and I think we’re all pretty terrified at the core. But then, like my characters, we plod along, making life up as we go along. And it is some comfort that nobody in the history of humanity had any more of a clue about life than we do. So we turn to the fantasy genre!

What could possibly be at stake in after-life if death is no longer a threat? What makes your characters vulnerable? 

I’m not sure that death is the thing we fear most. I’m certain that fear of the unknown, the unknowable, is much more pressing. When you’re dealing with infinity there’s a lot of the unknown going on! Just as us living look with trepidation towards the end of our life, so do the dead view with suspicion the looming next stage of theirs. And what would happen if someone in the afterlife murdered someone else? Can you die–again?

What kind of actions scenes shall we expect to find in your work? 

Without spoiling anything, I can reveal there’s a slimy chase through the repugnant end of town that involves nakedness and a herd of muddy swine. There’s also some angels’ illicit snorting of black powder that causes a spiritual maelstrom through spacetime. In the underworld there is the frantic race to build a human stairway to heaven before the soul-sucking fallen can reach the only heroes that can save existence. And, of course, the accidental explosion somewhere in the Void that causes the destruction of the afterlife’s first prison, only recently converted from a steel oyster-shucking plant.

Get “Ascension Denied” at Amazon now

E.A.A Wilson is an author, minister of metaphysics, mom and reluctant bureaucrat. Her comic fantasy novel “Ascension Denied” is set in purgatory but is nonetheless available to the living, now, online, at all major retailers. Stay in touch through:

Hell is Empty

Shakespeare

Shakespeare

I have a really good friend who converted to Catholicism when she got married. Like me, she is passionate about her spirituality, so although our beliefs differ wildly we always have plenty to talk about. (When you’re dealing with the infinite you need a lot of wine.)

The biggest thing we simply can’t agree on, is the existence of the concept of evil. To me, if all things derive from one single point in dimensions and are of the same essence, then nothing can fundamentally be opposite anything else. This is the notion of connectedness: the unified field. To accept evil is to accept that a malicious force can exist separate from the rest of everything, projecting from another single point, so to speak. It feels very contradictory to me.

It’s useful, of course. As long as there is evil, there can be a champion of evil. And then we all have someone to blame it on. It feels quite comforting to think that all those atrocities are committed thanks that bastard The Beast – but it doesn’t quite take into account that “atrocities” are only atrocious from the perspective of the injured. It also requires that we remove responsibility from the individual. To me it feels bizarrely contradictory to claim that a benevolent and loving God should punish for all eternity those who were tricked by said Beastly Bastard, especially when we all know how easy it is to fall for those delicious temptations.

I think Shakespeare’s on to something.

“Satan made me do it!”

“No darling – you made you do it.”

E.A.A Wilson is an author, minister of metaphysics, mom and reluctant bureaucrat. Her comic fantasy novel “Ascension Denied” is set in purgatory but is nonetheless available to the living, now, online, at all major retailers. Stay in touch through:

To Die is Different From What Anyone Supposed

Whitman

Whitman

We’ve known about the conversation of energy for a looooooooooooooooong time, all the way back to Thales’ philosophies about 550 BCE. The notion gets really interesting when we pair it with our newest and most mysterious discoveries in quantum mechanics – where we can literally see particles popping in and out of existence, changing their fundamental characteristics depending on whether or not we’re watching them, obscenely violating all known physical laws, and behaving, as Einstein put it, rather “spookily”. If you believe in the soul, as many of us do, it’s rather easy to spot the mechanics of an afterlife then. Energy transforming, transcending into essence that reunites with Einstein’s “unified field” – the consciousness of “All-That-Is”.

It’s easy for skeptics to criticize these ideas, of course, because the esoteric can’t be proven in the physical. And they should question these ideas. We should question all ideas.

E.A.A Wilson is an author, minister of metaphysics, mom and reluctant bureaucrat. Her comic fantasy novel “Ascension Denied” is set in purgatory but is nonetheless available to the living, now, online, at all major retailers. Stay in touch through:

What problem does the afterlife solve?

Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein

I’m not sure I agree with my dead buddy Ludwig on this one. I’m not convinced the afterlife is needed to solve any problems. My Christian friends claim it solves the problem of evil, allowing our medieval desires for vengeance the comfort in knowing that somewhere our transgressors will pay for their insults. This doesn’t satisfy me though, because “evil” is far too subjective for an “All-That-Is” entity to be concerned with. My atheist friends claim that the afterlife, for believers, solves the problem of fear. Fear of death, fear of loss. And although I’d say the philosophy on continuing life does offer some comfort, I’m not happy with that response either. The thing we really fear the most is change – the unknowable – and I’d say looking forward to an endless sleep is a lot less unsettling than the prospect of an immortal life of godknowswhat!

If there is an afterlife (and I for one am rock solid in my belief in the continuation of life) then I suspect it has little to do with the problems of humanity. As fantastical as this idea is: existence, All-That-Is, may not be all about us. I have a sneaking suspicion that instead we’re all about it. 

E.A.A Wilson is an author, minister of metaphysics, mom and reluctant bureaucrat. Her comic fantasy novel “Ascension Denied” is set in purgatory but is nonetheless available now, online, at all major retailers. You can follow her here:

A Totally Non-Denominational Prayer

“Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that I be forgiven for anything I may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which I may be eligible after the destruction of my body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.”

― Roger Zelazny, Creatures of Light and Darkness

USA - 1997: Hiram Henriquez color illustration of hand of God reaching to touch three human hands. Can be used with stories about cloning. (The Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
USA – 1997: Hiram Henriquez color illustration of hand of God reaching to touch three human hands. (The Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)