Pleasant Fictions

Turns out, once you’ve spent a couple of months writing fiction, it’s a bit of a rocky road getting back on the travel writing wagon. Because, you know, if it’s not supposed to be fiction, you’re not supposed to just make stuff up. Not that this has stopped some of the more prominent figures on the political stage today.

I’ll admit it: I do have a head start in terms of not having to make stuff up – I’ve spent a good portion of my life wishing I could make up a story with as many twists as what I’ve managed to lay down in the tracks of my real life. Really, it’s been awesome fun – feels like I’m doing field work on material for some future Scheherazade to tell a sleepy and psychopathic sultan some day in the distant future.

Dinner on “The Porch of Indecision”

Speaking of making things up, we’re in Orlando for the weekend, heartland of the fabricated experience. Staying at the Hawaiian-themed “Royal Pacific” Resort, visiting Harry Potter World. The illusions of both are equally absurd, but entertaining. In a way, we’re wrapped in at least three levels of artificiality before we would break out into what most people would call an “authentic” experience, but with the Royal Pacific, as much as with Harry Potter, we’ve checked our cultural sensibilities at the door and are allowing ourselves the decadence of make-believe.

The fake, fiberglass seaplane in the hotel “lagoon” is no more real than the fake snow on the vertiginous chimneys of Hogsmeade. It’s okay – it’s just another form of fiction, and if you don’t press too hard, the illusion is pleasantly convincing. For this weekend, getting away with the kids for a few decadent, indulgent days, it’s lovely.

Over the years, we’ve talked with the kids about special effects while watching movies. I’ve always felt that the emphasis on super-realistic CGI has been misplaced. I always get annoyed when I hear people confusing the quality of a movie, or story, with the quality of its special effects. Great theater happens in the mind – the props on a stage, or the special effects of a movie are there just to help you visualize, and feel what the author and actors are trying to convey.

Folks complain about the quality of a movie’s special effects – I always feel the urge to jump in and say “And what was worse, you could tell that the whole thing was just light projected on a flat silver screen. And the images kept jumping around from scene to scene. It was so obvious that the whole experience was faked, and that we were just sitting in a dark room….” [Sorry, little rant there. Got carried away. Back now.]

We accidentally apparate
into Hogwarts

Where was I? Oh, right – willing suspension of disbelief. Great fun. We toured Hogwarts, drank butterbeer (crème soda with whipped cream), and shopped for chocolate frogs at Honeydukes. Then sat poolside and sipped margaritas (real ones) under palm trees (also real) in the cool evening air. A lovely, lovely illusion.

But tomorrow, it’s time to go. Pack up and head home to California, peeling off one or two layers of that illusion and returning to the world of school and work. Which is also lovely. Oh, wait – except that while Devon and the kids are headed back to California, it turns out that I’ve got to take an unanticipated side trip to Pittsburgh for a couple of days (Note to future self on proper packing for the unanticipated: Orlando weather: sunny and 80F; Pittsburgh weather: 36F with snow showers. I may have to pick up something a little warmer at the airport).

Oh, and the Pittsburgh thing? No, I’m not making that up. Who says you have to be writing fiction to have cliffhangers?

One response to “Pleasant Fictions

  1. Pingback: Since You’ve Been Gone… | David Pablo Cohn·

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