Bewildering Stories discusses...
Seeing the Hidden World
with Eleanor Lerman
“What If There Is a Hidden World That We Can’t See?" begins in issue 613.
A discussion, “What Is the Hidden World?” appears in issue 615.
I must tell you that one of the most extraordinary experiences for me in all the years I’ve been publishing (four decades — even I can’t believe that) is that people explain my own work to me in ways I never would have thought of, and this story is clearly no exception.
For example, it never occurred to me that Jack might be an angel. And I don’t think even I realized that he called Chris by her full name.
What I thought I was doing in this story — as I have been in all my work for the past few years — is try to create a framework for exploring ideas about what I have expressed as lying beyond the human horizon. Sometimes I’ve used aliens as expressions for those ideas, sometimes simply the concept of some other plane on which things are happening that may intersect with our world if someone is really looking for them — and sometimes, when they’re not.
In any case, that’s what stories and poems are for: you send them out into the world after you’ve spent some time talking to them and then see what they have to say to other people. I am so grateful for this opportunity to hear that conversation continue in Bewildering Stories.
Thank you, Eleanor!
Of course, we can talk happily far into the night about the details of “Hidden World”; it gives us plenty of substance. For example:
The difference between “Chris” and “Christine” takes on a special meaning in the story and thereby bears out one of our mottoes: “One can never be too careful in choosing names.”
And is Jack an angel? Another motto: “Readers take everything literally unless they know to do otherwise.” As we know, an angel — in the original sense of άγγελος — is a messenger. When Bobby speculates that Jack might have spaceship, he’s asking, basically, “Where are your wings?” But angels seldom come equipped with wings, white robes, harps, etc. In fact, Chris sees Jack’s clothing as being rather plain.
I’m especially touched by:
that’s what stories and poems are for: you send them out into the world after you’ve spent some time talking to them and then see what they have to say to other people.
That’s the dialogue between author and work. Let’s send our characters onstage and see where they take us; we may be surprised. And then send the story or poem out into the world and see what messages come back; they, too, may be surprising.
Literature reveals a “hidden world that we can’t see” in messages exchanged between author and work as well as between the work and its audience. In that sense, we’re all angels; the object is to be good ones.
Copyright © 2015 by Eleanor Lerman
and Bewildering Stories