YOU WILL have read the story in the papers. The 19-year-old boy killed his
father with a hammer and then a knife, after which he beat his mother to death.
He then left the bodies, and went on a six-week holiday to the United States,
using his parents' money, with a girl who believed he was a famous tennis
player. They stayed at the very best hotels.
At his trial, he said: "I eternally long to be a little boy again. To be
with my mum and dad again at a time when we really loved each other. When we
could be family again. I miss them. I love them." He was a fantasist whose
fantasy had finally run out, replaced by a desperate longing for something
better, for authentic experience beyond his psyche's phoney creation.
By the time he spoke these words, he had no power to manipulate the
situation. I therefore suspect that they were truthful words. They move me as
truthful words always do.
We need discernment in the world of fantasy; for it can lead us down
different paths. While some fantasy goes to the heart of the matter, other
fantasy goes everywhere but there. There is fantasy that invites us into a more
profound engagement with reality. Some might put C. S. Lewis's Narnia
chronicles or George Orwell's Animal Farm in this category.
Other fantasy, however, is a deliberate escape from reality, such as J. M.
Barrie's Peter Pan, which featured the Neverland that so inspired
Michael Jackson. This should not surprise us; for it was nothing more than a
code word for sleep of consciousness and denial.
Barrie said: "Nothing that happens after 12 matters very much," which is
both profoundly true and utterly false. Childhood creates, but it needn't
define. His life was frozen in childhood, a place he had to visit again and
again, like a sad figure endlessly retracing his steps to the bus stop where he
lost that jewel, all those years ago.
He was the little boy unable to grow up, who became a writer, created a
character in his own image, and a heaven out of his own dysfunction.
We must revisit our childhood, obviously, but for one reason alone - to
discover the place and time where we lost our trust in the universe, after
which we embarked on our various fatal fantasies to compensate for this loss.
Perhaps on one level our fantasies have not been as fatal as those of the
young murderer. But if he
has begun to see through his fantasy, he will know more than I knew at his
age. I actually imagined I had a pretty clear grasp on reality when I was 20.
Pure fantasy, of course.