Fantasy is the name of Malte Persson’s short story recently out on Readux Books. The book was translated from Swedish into English by Saskia Vogel, and it’s the English version I’ve gotten a hold of.
Fantasy is a word that refers to something going on in one’s mind, something that differs from reality. In addition the term in English, as well as in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish refers to a literary genre. Fantasy is a fitting title for Persson’s book, since it deals with its own creation as a work of fantasy. Here are the first few lines:
“The whisper of castles in the sky collapsing. (Insert special effects here.) the drag force of passing deadlines and overdrawn budgets. Was it all just a matter of money, as usual? Or was there, as some say, another story, better insofar as it was much worse?”
The protagonist of Fantasy, let us call her ‘the author’, is a female writer in the processes of researching her next novel. In a bar one night she chats with someone who she names the Sorrowful Prince and is seduced by him, or rather by her own interest in his stories. It turns out that the person she calls the Sorrowful Prince is a young IT-genius who has financed the making of a film from a script, The Plot, written by a person the author calls the Witch Master.
However, when the author comes to know this, the production of the film has already failed for unknown reasons. The author is inspired by the failed project, and Fantasy is a description of her interaction with certain people who were involved in it. Especially the conversations with someone the author calls the Dwarf, who simply works on the project. The Dwarf has a keen scientific interest in languages, and almost studied linguistics at the university, before the department had to close down. This is a recurrent theme in Fantasy: the dynamics of almost. The film was almost produced, the Dwarf almost makes it into university, the author’s research almost bears fruit. However, on the other hand it’s a story about the creative processes, of putting pieces together, of connections. In between, we find the author’s reflections about recognition, money, superficiality and the creative arts. Language and money occupy central positions in the author’s reflections. Let us continue these reflections a bit here. Money is something that has a certain value because we can exchange it for products and services. In order for this exchange to be possible we need other people to accept our currencies. If one day all relevant actors decided to inflate the currency ten-fold, its value would change. It is somewhat the same story with language and words, if we decide that one word should take on a new meaning, and all relevant actors agree to this semantic change, then the word acquires a new meaning. In this way currencies are equal to languages and words to money, in that they receive their fundamental characteristics from social interactions. A private language is meaningless, as Wittgenstein noted, and money is without value if it’s not accepted in exchanges. Money and languages also play equally important roles in creative processes as carried out in contemporary capitalism. As the person we have called the author writes:
“Money is a product of fantasy that produces new products of fantasy”