Friday, September 19, 2014

Renaissance Fairs & Our Desire For Fantasy Are Real

Imagine being able to go somewhere and stepping back into another era, a time and place so very different from today, where corset-wearing women strut around with muscular warriors, where technology is defined by one’s ability to sharpen a sword, where one’s sense of community comes down to villagers you’ve known your whole life.  Imagine being able to not be you, to being able to dress up and step away from the world of today and the life you’ve lived.  

Imagine no more.  

For those attending the New York Renaissance Faire – and those like it across the country – you will know what it’s like to lose yourself in a community of like-minded souls searching to escape to a world that once had been but shall never be again.

I went to my first such fair earlier this month, at a place called Tuxedo, New York – about an hour from my home.  My wife and two under-10 children joined another family to see what the world of suspended disbelief and make-believe could provide us.

There was an overflowing crowd, leaving people to park a quarter-mile beyond the full parking lot that holds 5,000 cars.  People were eager to walk around a village themed around the days of 500 years ago.

There were plenty of things to do, but the best part was the people watching.  A large minority came attired in costumes from yesteryear.  People walked around as if they were no longer themselves, desperately hoping to spend a few hours under a frame of mind, free from cellphones, television, cars, and the amenities of today.  But, perhaps removed from their glamourized notion of the Shakespearian era, was the fact that people lived shorter lives back then, that life was physically harsher, that the unpaved, unsanitized streets were unsafe, and that many lived without an education or ability to know life beyond their walking range.  Hey, don’t mean to be a buzzkill, but who in their right mind would rather live in 1514 and not 2014?

Ok, but for a day, sure, why not!?

I guess that’s what we love about novels, especially ones that allow us to dream of another time and place.  Movies, certain videogames, and other forms of entertainment allow us a chance to see other worlds.  When you get to walk around in another world, it’s pretty cool.

When you look back at another time period, you realize three things.  First, how far we’ve advanced on many things.  Two, where we fall short and have lost some of the good from another time.  Three, you realize at the core of things, people are the same – whether living then or now.  The human nature has not changed.  We’re still pulled by the physical and the visual, still ruled by the emotional, still driven by family and financials, still at war with others and ourselves.

Are these festivals filled with freaks and geeks?  Some are, for sure, but underneath the costumed participants and the voyeuristic passerbys we all seem to be hungering for something, still searching for the formula for the ideal life or society.  We may have to do more than dress up or munch on giant turkey legs or watch archery and knife-throwing or playfully stand in a stockade.  We’ll need to transform our lives on a daily basis, to move towards an enlightened view that we can not only judge others by but live ourselves.

The industry of fantasy is alive and well.  Tens of billions of dollars are spent on books, movies, and games and plays.  Fairs such as this one are all over the world.  But the biggest playground is in our minds, in our capacity to imagine and create.  You don’t need to pay an admission fee or wear a costume – just think it, dream it, live it.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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