Toward a Theory of the Fantastic


The fantastic disturbs, distorts, and disintegrates our personal and collective ideological filters, breaks the false real of our agential nightmares, the socio-cultural frames of reference that bind us to the tyranny of the real. The fantastic affords us a polysemous vision of the impossible possibilities opening out just beyond the closed temporalities of our encoded belief systems, cracking the false impositions of our darkened reasoning and logic: the orthodox order of things.  The fantastic folds us into those indefinite layers of the heterodox Real where all contradictions pierce us without resolution. Caught in this hall of mirrors we begin to see in the distorted fragments of its fantastic display neither agency or its collective distortions, but rather the alterity of that immanent world which lies in the gaps and cracks of the impossible Real. This act of positive provocation and withdrawal, a transgressive operation of dissolving the false world of our ideological prison, opens us to the unreal, beckoning us to break free. It is this opening activity which is disturbing, by denying the solidity of what had been taken to be real. Bataille has referred to this kind of infraction as ‘une déchirure’, a tear, or wound, laid open in the side of the real. Tearing ourselves from the false imprecations of our ideological cells we begin to totter on the edge of a mad realization, an unknowing that unbinds us from this world of violence by violence.

The fantastic is the poetics of freedom.

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