“Immaterial”

This is no longer your world, Jones. The immaterial has become… immaterial.

            Ah, Lord Cutler Beckett… how I love to hate you. For those who don’t have the pleasure of knowing, that’s a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”, spoken to another incredible villain of the franchise, living myth Davy Jones. Hats off to the script writers, because that’s actually a rather clever line, incorporating both definitions of the word at once:

1. Having no material body or form.

2. Of no importance or relevance; inconsequential or irrelevant.

(Dictionary order reversed for the sake of neatly matching the order presented in the quote, FYI.)

            Now, it’s time I confessed to something, readers: On occasions where I mention my “friends” in this blog, chances are I’m including comrades that most sane people would consider strictly imaginary. Fortunately (or not, according to my sisters), I don’t consider myself particularly sane; many writers of fiction don’t, you know.

            Mind you, I don’t refer to these friends as “imaginary”. Jacquelina, the invisible girl I danced with in my first (and only) ballet recital and who later was a horse – she was an imaginary friend, as were her fellow horses, Jacquo and Jacqueliese. (This spelling is total guesswork, by the way. At four years old, I never bothered to work out what to write on their nametags.) Blobbermouth, the man in the top hat who later became a genie and lived in a little gold-painted plastic bottle on my dresser – he was an imaginary friend. My minstrels, my tailor, my Dream World Deliverer… – these friends are not imaginary. They are merely immaterial.

            “Imaginary”, see, means “having existence only in the imagination; unreal”. Who wants to think of their dear friends that way? That would be depressing, and suggestive of mental problems (as opposed to mental peculiarities, which sounds much less worrisome, don’t you think?). But to say that the friends are immaterial does not impugn their reality in the least. They’re real enough – they’re just invisible, and incapable of physically manipulating our material world, except through possession of a willing vessel. …Okay, that did sound worrisome. As well it might. Any other authors out there who’ve had emails hijacked by characters who felt they had more important things to say to your material friend than you did? Any of your voices slip unconsciously into the accent of your primary antagonist during a phone conversation? Any of your tailors make you overdose on peanut butter? (Not to make mine feel bad by harping on that. But I digress…)

            I like to think that there are several planes of reality, all no more than an elusive cross-dimensional rift away. And one of those planes is a place where immaterial versions of ourselves can go to meet with characters out of the stories we write. And the whole gang can get into shenanigans like Fantasy Tug-o’-War, and battles against the equivalent of a pride of mutant lionesses, and the rougher-than-rugby brawl we call Super Soccer.

            Not exactly the kind of thing non-authors would necessarily expect of a twenty-something, I know. And I’m sorry if people like my sisters are occasionally annoyed by it. But I’m not about to ditch my friends any time soon. The immaterial are more than immaterial to me.

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4 thoughts on ““Immaterial”

  1. “Any other authors out there who’ve had emails hijacked by characters who felt they had more important things to say to your material friend than you did?”

    Wow, that’s incredibly profound. Like, wow. That actually has really made me think. I think, often, we use characters as mouthpieces to say things we feel we can’t in real life – and thus, they have more important lessons to teach us about ourselves than anyone tangible.

    • Truth does indeed seem more palatable when in the guise of fiction.
      And I’m frequently amazed at how much better some of my characters understand me than I do!

  2. Ha! Fabulous post – and so much yes in it! I often feel the same way about my characters, and when I write them very often or am very concentrated on them I pick up some of their mannerisms too – it can be quite awkward, but usually it’s nothing worse than a word or phrase they use often. My husband, who knows my characters very well, always picks up on it and teases me mercilessly for it 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed and can relate to it! Characters can be so gosh-darn imitable, sometimes; how’s an author to resist the temptation? I’d call merciless teasing a reasonable price to pay. (:

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