It's Quidditch Season in East River Park
I have a wide acquaintance (and wider Twitter feed) full of artists, playwrights, novelists, filmmakers, and storytellers of all stripes. People who dream up whole worlds, or delve impossibly deep into the one we've got. Artists who amaze me with their inventiveness. People I know, people I don't know, people who died a century ago--all showing me worlds within worlds. It's great. I love it. It's what I'm about. It's what I do.
And then there are the conspiracy people. The "truthers," hoaxers, hackers, weirdos, and True Believers. Over the past year the scum that has boiled to the top during the Presidential campaign are not only the worst kind of racists, they are people who live in an alternate reality. The crazy notions that float through their minds don't turn into fiction, poetry, art, and film. The crap they manifest runs to Twitter attacks, website takedowns, doxing, outrageous threats and bizarre theories of crime. In this world, Trump is a truth-teller, Newtown was theater, and the Clintons have murdered a whole lot of people but the New York Times has protected them.
So this year, when I see the teenagers running up and down the field holding broomsticks between their legs and trying to throw the Quaffle through the three goal hoops, I don't laugh the way I did last year. Most of those kids are just fans, harmlessly playing at being Harry Potter. Maybe one or two of those kids will go deeply into pretend worlds and come out with fantastic plays and books and music for the rest of us. But some of those kids will haunt the worst neighborhoods of the Internet, tracking down grieving parents to insist their children didn't die of gun violence because they never really existed at all.
Needless to say, these people scare the hell out of me. I recognize an urge to flee the mundane, to have everything mean something, to be part of a grand quest. And I see crazy. I see dangerous. I see ugly, and mean, and the misuse of intelligence. And I wonder how to write about it. How do you write fiction about people who live fiction? How do you follow people into the funhouse without going a bit nuts yourself?