The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Monday, February 29, 2016

When Does the Fantasy Chase Off the Readers? (#IWSG)

English: 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza (right) and t...
 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza (right) and the 1929 Trump Building (center) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog






         Excuse me for posting a bit early for #IWSG, but I wanted to use this post to continue a series that I began last week.  And this at the risk of scaring readers away from commenting.  This is not my intention of course, but it seems to happen sometimes with certain topics.

         If you're feeling lost about what I'm talking about I invite you to read my posts Can Trump's Border Wall Work? and Why the Border Wall Can Bring Positive Change? and please weigh in on my topics if you're willing to put your imagination to work (or play as I see it).  Interestingly to me, these posts each garnered about the usual number of visits as my average posts while receiving far fewer than normal comments.  There were some excellent comments to be sure, but I'm not sure my vision was conveyed to most who read these pieces.

          Okay, I get this.  I certainly spent more time thinking about the "Border Wall World" than most who visited those posts.  This was my vision after all.   Like some of you I initially thought the concept of Donald Trump's border wall that Mexico pays for was rather absurd, but hearing so much about the wall I wanted to imagine why Mexico would willfully pay for it as well as the world that might be the result if a cooperative venture were to be put into place.

          But let me get away from the political controversy in order to express what it was that so enthralled me.  I had begun world-building in big way and the more I dreamed it the bigger it got.  Maybe if the Border Wall World were expanded as part of a story presented in a novel then more readers would start getting into as much as I began to be. 

        This imaginary world is a near future world or it could be a far future world.  This type of world could even be set in a past time or another planet.   It's an imagination creation from within my mind, perhaps not totally original if someone has done this in the past, but certainly an idea with potential for anyone else who decides to dream it.

        By the way, at present I'm not intending to use this world in anything that I'm going to write so anyone who wants to use it I say go for it.  I'll buy your book since I'd like to read about this kind of world.  Who knows--I might get to thinking so hard about this world that a story might get inspired within me, but still a world concept like this could be a setting for an infinite number of stories.  

        My intention now is not to apologize for introducing a topic of controversy in my previous posts, but to explain that those posts were not to foment any political distress among readers.  My primary intention was to understand a concept and in order to do that a world was created--Border Wall World (to use a convenient name that provides a description).   

          There are as many worlds as writers can imagine.  Every fiction is a creation of some particular world even if that fictional world is based on something real.  The closer to reality the world that the writer creates is, the easier it will be to convey the vision that writer wants the readers to see.  The imagination is boundless; the vast array of worlds is infinite.  Write your world as it is, as it could be, and as it one day might be. 

         Conveniently, last week as I was playing with world building, Raquel Byrnes wrote a post about rules of world-building.   Check it out at 5 Core Rules for World Building

          Do you enjoy world-building?   When you create a world within your mind do you ever get so excited about it that you perhaps go overboard describing it to others?    Are you able to easily separate politics from possibilities?   

        




57 comments:

  1. My dad called it having "float". The ability to listen to something different and not having a reaction. The ability to not have a falling out with someone over a disagreement. I don't think this was just a Southern concept.
    Somehow people take their opinion way too seriously and can't entertain someone else. As a result, our politics are so vitriolic. You are either right or wrong which is not a possibility in human affairs. I enjoyed your posts. I plan to look up the world building post.
    I need to finish some stories I have started but hanging out online with some bloggers and reading their work. I got a sci-fi story going in my mind. A big wall would be a good detail. I'll have to keep that in mind.
    I'm not terribly fond of Trump. But many, many nice people I know support him. So you are not in bad company if he appeals to you. Cheers mate.

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    1. Ann, keeping an open mind and not revealing your hand is a good strategy, but it can be difficult when you believe in something strongly or are against it vehemently. I try to approach things this way because I don't like the arguing.

      In writing it can be a little less reactionary in the now as it can be mentally assimilated and analyzed.

      But I agree about people taking their own opinions way too seriously when presented with differing ideas. There is more than one way to look at anything even if your own way is the right way.

      Lee

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  2. The answer to the questions you pose at the end is 'no'. I have lost faith in our political system. It's a joke.

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    1. JoJo, but the questions remain: Why is the political system a joke and what could be done to make it better? How can opposing sides be brought together or can this ever happen?

      Lee

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  3. Border Wall World will likely only exist in a fantasy world.

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    1. Alex, a "Border Wall World" is far more likely to exist in a real world than a world where dragons and vampires reign, realms of elves and fairies, or advanced cultures traveling through space. We each embrace the fantasy that spurs our imagination.

      Lee

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  4. I have carefully read all three posts and I don't understand. You have been imagining a world where a comment made by a presidential hopeful comes true. A world where more concrete is needed - a good bet if for instance you don't believe that there is global warming, as there is a huge amount of nonrenewable resources used in its manufacture. But this is a fantasy world so perhaps the environment doesn't matter. This is just one part of my misunderstanding. In a world (the world we find ourselves now) division and hatred seems to be on the rise. Will a wall help this problem? You ask if I can separate possibilities from politics. No. I can't. Politics from its root meaning refers to the affairs of the cities - politics is part of everything we do as humans - our art, our policies, our social networks, our economy, our environment. So...can I imagine a world that is a dystopia? Yes, I can. But when I imagine it my heart is heavy.

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    1. Jan, you are still not separating the fantasy that I'm proposing from your own deeply ingrain beliefs about the personalities and political rhetoric that inspired this fantasy. I was ruminating on not a "how things work" reality, but a how things might work if certain situations came into play. It could easily be dystopia, but it might also be utopia. It could be sci-fi, fantasy, political intrigue, war, commerce, or romance--the story could be absolutely anything set against the fantasy world that the border wall concept conceived in my mind. I separated the politics to imagine possibilities if an idea like a wall came into play.

      Just as we might imagine a world where superheroes exist who battle villains with amazing powers or innocent college girls get involved with S-M activities with some aloof rich man, suspension of disbelief must come into play for the reader and the writer's job is to creatively and painstakingly develop settings, characters, and stories that bring the ideas to life. We don't have to like or wish for any of it, but we shouldn't limit our thinking to the point where a story idea is completely dismissed because we don't like where it came from originally. It is important to separate the message from the messenger when we're dealing with literature and understand when we are being fed propaganda. Sometimes the lines are crossed and then it becomes more a matter of judging the work on its merit and not the source of the ideas that inspired it.

      There are many examples such as the works of Orwell might fit into what I'm talking about. Or think about the Nazi propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl--not too many would approve of the vision she was depicting, but the way it was presented is a work of art.

      I may have not conveyed well what I was trying to do, but the limitations of short blog posts made it difficult for me. I'm sure a better writer could have done this better, but I played with an idea that fueled my imagination while trying to argue the beneficial side of what seemed absurd to me at the outset.

      Thanks for reading it all and giving it some thought.

      Lee


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  5. That world would either be a dystopian world or a parallel world. I can't see it happening in reality though.

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    1. L.Diane, easily dystopian as I said to Jan in my previous reply. My reply to Alex pretty well defines my view on whether or not it could really happen.

      Lee

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  6. I do enjoy world building, but I'm not sure how good I am at it. When others do it, I love it because it helps immerse me in the story. I think that's why I liked your thoughtfulness on the subject. It was pretty well fleshed out.

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    1. Patricia, thanks for the positive response. You are among those who seemed to get what I was driving at in my earlier posts. The depth of the world built increases the realism and enjoyment of the story.

      Lee

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  7. I was just reading about how all democracies ultimately fail. I've been particularly disheartened by this election EON (because it seems to have gone on far too long already). I'm not excited by any of the candidates and I'm not looking forward to another 4 or even 8 years of someone at the helm that 1) I can't trust 2) other nations don't respect 3) will continue with the same failed international policies we've had for the past 8 years. I'm sighing out here a lot.

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    1. C.Lee, I think a lot of people share your exasperation. Maybe that's why the vision of what I was trying to do in my posts was lost in the emotions many are feeling about the ongoing election campaigns. Ha, and the elections actually have only just begun.

      Lee

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    2. You're probably right about the post being lost in the emotions. I don't think people are thinking about this; they're either in denial or turmoil.

      Actually, I'm looking forward the A to Z Challenge just to get my mind off of Trump and Hillary.

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  8. Lee, I don't understand why some folks get stressed over politics. You don't have to agree with everyone on everything. The key is to respect the other person's opinion and to discuss things in a calm, civil fashion. Yeah, that later part gets lost most of the time. People get too freaky deaky on these matters. *sigh* I don't know if I ever done any world building before. I know I've daydreamed about a world of peace and contentment, but anything beyond that my imagination has yet to expound upon. That's interesting, separating politics from possibilities. I see the possibilities for what they are, but it's the politics that gets in the way all too often. Your posts really make me think. Thanks for igniting my thought process today!

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    1. Cathy, I'm glad I'm stimulating thought in a few minds. I enjoy discussing serious topics in a civil manner. Often people take things too personally regarding politics and other things and can't stay calm. And even if people start yelling it's not too bad if it's because they are excited and passionate. When the anger gets in the way that's bad though.

      Lee

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  9. As far as I'm concerned each of us having our own thoughts, feelings and imagination are among what makes each human unique. I enjoyed your posts about the border wall and believe there is indeed potential. Sadly some people can't get over the fact that Trump talked about it. But an idea is just that and no matter who says it there can be a good and bad side to anyone's thought process.

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    1. Sheena-kay, I agree that some people couldn't get past my speculation because of political interference. It's good to exchange ideas and opinions in calm discussion. We don't talk, we don't learn much about each other.

      Lee

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  10. How can anyone boo a cheerleader? Shouldn't hope in new ideas and solutions trump despair and hopelessness?

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    1. Diedre, I suddenly had a Beavis & Butthead moment (Heh-heh, you said "trump"). Most new ideas were initially laughed at before it was shown that they would work. It's far easier to make fun of an idea than to figure out how an idea could actually work.

      Lee

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  11. I wonder if the comments went down not because of the topic but because you espoused a particular opinion. By the time you eliminate those who either don't want to hurt your feelings by disagreeing and those who go the "I don't discuss politics or religion" route, that might explain it...

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    1. CW, aside from the fact that every post I do espouses an opinion, you are probably right to some degree. Even though I asked readers to step outside the political box to consider some out-of-the-box imagining, they couldn't get past where the idea came from.

      The concept of not wanting to discuss anything that upsets us, that we disagree with, or that could potentially cause argument is to me somewhat disturbing. It's like what is happening on college campuses. In avoiding exchange of ideas and considering points of disagreement we get stuck with our own opinions and thought patterns that have been shaped and formed by party line doctrine or whatever the media has fed us. Most throw rational thinking and deductive reasoning out the window and escape into fantasy or comedy or whatever it is that helps us avoid the complexity of the world. Diversity for much of society is really a non-inclusive concept that doesn't allow dissension or disagreement. But you're right as far as I can tell. Or maybe it was just a bad week for blog comments? The great divide that we see in our country I think is the result of people not discussing issues and learning more about all sides. Polarization occurs when we hunker in specific camps of thought while looking with suspicion at others who might be thinking something different.

      Lee

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    2. Exactly my thoughts. I think you have whittled what's wrong with this nation down to one reply.

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  12. I love world building. It's disturbing how no one will even listen to another's opinion. There is no open-mindness in this country right now. It is scary what has happened to free speech.

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    1. Susan GK--when I'm around others I usually don't express too many opinions until I know enough about the people I'm with to talk more freely. That is usually never--even around my family. I like talking about stuff and trying to solve the problems of the world, but I most just end up thinking about such things and maybe sometimes blurting it out on my blogs. In a way that's what blogs are some of the time for some people.

      Lee

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  13. World building is always great in theory but when humans are involved, the peaceful thinking that one should utilize usually does not happen which can be evidenced on your blog here. hell I even. Brought up Trump a couple of posts before. I am not sure if I still understand but I don't believe a wall would ever be beneficial. Walls mean to either keep people in or keep them out. it usually doesn't broker partnerships or peace. in all the centuries before, any walls that were built did not broker peace but the opposite. Regardless, of the reason for the wall, it never builds but separates. one can even see this in a small way when we build walls in our mind because it brings miscommunication or simply a lack of one

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    1. Birgit, maybe too many of those mental walls and not enough border walls? Walls are intended to separate in order to foster privacy, security, and control of the traffic flow of people. There are so many walls and fences that we encounter every day and they seem very logical when you think about them. Even Disneyland has some kind of wall or fence to keep people from going into the park free. If you tried to get in without paying you'd be booted out. The United States is metaphorically kind of like the Disneyland for the world.

      Anyway, I was building a world around this imaginary border wall and rather than imagine what such a world could be like, a lot of readers' imagination was roadblocked by the politics connected with the idea. That doesn't mean there's not any potential for a fictional world that could exist.

      Lee

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  14. A little controversy keeps life interesting and sparks debate. ☺ Fantasy has never been my favourite genre and I don't indulge in world-building but, you've certainly mapped out an interesting picture.

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    1. Debbie D, I'm not much of a fan of fantasy fantasy and I've gotten pretty discriminating about sci-fi. I like to read about worlds that are something I can relate to more easily with stories that are more likely to happen.

      I've already visited plenty of border towns in my life and it would be easy for me to imagine all sorts of variations based on that existing world.

      You probably engage in a lot more world building than you think. Even when I'm planning a trip I start building mental images about the worlds where I'll be going.

      Lee

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  15. The comments are so interesting, thank you! Politics is indeed about everyday life and we have to think about it because it has an impact on each and everyone of us.. I remember that discussions around politics and religion were banned from the dinner table as it always became inflammatory with each side holding onto their fixed view and trying to shout the other/s down ...
    So, keep on posting Lee, stretching our imaginations is always healthy even if others don't like the stretching ...

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    1. Susan S, I don't like discussing controversial topics at the table while eating, but afterwards with dessert or just sitting around I love thoughtful discussion. So many people shun the thought and it's kind of sad. I'd rather talk about issues that matter in a great way than gossip or sports. I tend to zone out on those things.

      I'll probably keep on posting about the things that stimulate my mind. Why would I want to post much else?

      Lee

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  16. I don't think you need to apologize.
    As for building a wall, that sounds like the making of a great board game as well. Who can be the first to build their great wall. Opposing players take turns trying to dismantle your wall as they build their own.

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    1. Jeffrey, I feel absolutely no compulsion to apologize for introducing any controversial thinking in my blog posts. I think your idea about the board game sounds ingenious! I'd play that game. You might want to run with that idea if you know anything about game development.

      Lee

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    2. I'm definitely a gamer. I collect new board games like other people collect hummels. Do they still do that?
      Yes, I know several people, as well as myself, familiar with game development.

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  17. It's been a long time since I've worked on any of my planned or hiatused soft sci-fi/futuristic books. When I do finally resume them, it'll be quite a change to have to build an entirely fictional setting instead of just writing a story set in a real place. I think one of my favorite imagined future worlds is the BBM. I can't remember what it stands for so many years later, but it's like a city that grows up instead of around, to conserve space. The ones I read about were imagined as being enclosed, though I suppose a BBM could also be uncovered.

    I almost never touch potentially hot-button, polarizing topics on my blog (after getting some abusive e-mails and guestbook entries in the days of my Angelfire site), though I've been running a 12-part series critically examining the sudden, overnight explosion of alleged transsexuals, particularly children. I'm really glad I haven't gotten a single abusive, hate-filled, death threat comment yet. Many other people who publicly question or criticise anything about this movement are immediately jumped on and called bigots.

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  18. Carrie-Anne, the BBM world sounds like an interesting future world. I can see a lot of potential there. Have no idea what those initials stand for though.

    Controversy can be risky business and so many people misunderstand what is being said because of personal bias. I've been following your series, but have refrained from saying anything. That's a really tough topic!

    Lee

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  19. World building is great fun. I discover something new each time I visit. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Anna, thank you for dropping by!

      Lee

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  20. Sometimes, I think I over complicate my world, which then leads to reader confusion. I spent a couple of hours explaining how one aspect of my magic system worked to one of my CPs. It took that long for her to say, "OH! I get it!" Me thinks I might be doomed...

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    1. Loni, over-complicating things for the readers is not good, but detailed complication for the author in planning things out is probably a good idea. In the end the process probably comes down to editing out the unnecessary details when presenting the story to readers, but being sure any holes or inconsistencies are recognized so they don't show up later in critical reviews. It's probably like telling jokes: If you have to explain it all the impact is lost in the end and the joke is no longer funny.

      Lee

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  21. Ooops, I guess I didn't "float" in my last comment.

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    1. Em, it's more relaxing to just float down the river than to frantically swim upstream.

      Lee

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  22. In my book, I create a world not as it is now but as I wish the world was. Therefore, there is no way in my opinion, that I can overlook the politics and whatever else is happening here on earth. I remember very clearly my feelings when I visited East Berlin in 1985. The Berlin Wall was still up and at that time no one thought it would be coming down soon. I had concerts there and our sponsor took us to see the wall that was dividing the city and I remember thinking, this can't be true. In order to convey this isolation and separation in my journal I started researching, looking for information on the system with the thought in my mind that I would one day write a memoir that would relate the antagonism I felt when I stood at the wall. So, I believe writers are influenced negatively or positively by the political systems around us. When I read Hemingway, I see the influence of the Franco-Spanish war, and I read that in other writers who have through their writing wrote their opinions about a political system through their characters. Ayn Rand, for example, was one of those writers. So, yes I enjoy world building and I don't try to separate the politics from possibilities.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

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    1. Pat, in the cases you mention the politics and possibilities are inextricably tied together. If the point an author is trying to make has to do with their political vision or a statement about the politics of an era, then I agree that the politics have to be a part of the discussion. However, in the world of ideas if we were to dismiss every idea that could be connected to some unsavory political movement of the past or present then there would be no ideas whatsoever. I think it can be an interesting and sometimes fruitful exercise to determine the potential good side to what seem like bad ideas just as it would be sensible to weigh the possible negatives of an idea that seems absolutely wonderful to everyone.

      Lee

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  23. Hi Lee. Wow! You're post got my mind spinning. I like how you are exploring the topic of Trumps wall and then how you apply it to your creative world. I have always lived in world building. Escaping my own world for what I could create. I like to sketch scenes and piece together parts of my character I find in magazines. Yes I think I do like to go overboard in my details at times so thank goodness for my awesome crit partner. She grounds me. She reminds me of the parts in my WIPs that are more for me than the reader. Keep exploring! I will have to check out the other posts.

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    1. Erika, thank you for at least considering the possibilities. When we confine our minds by the politics of the present, we stifle the imagination of what might one day be.

      Lee

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  24. I'm not saying anything more about world-building until March 21st, except (a) I remember reading a story recently about rescuing people from the other side of the walled community of... forget where (possibly a Kim Headlee book) and (b) in looking for a cartoon for a post for April, I found a great pic of an 'earth' divided in two at the Equator with one man in a wonderful garden of Eden on one side, and the rest of humanity crammed into the other - 47% of the wealth is owned by 1% of the population was the caption.

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    1. Jemima, walls provide interesting symbolic metaphors as well as actual barriers between peoples. Their use in fiction and other mediums is infinite.

      Lee

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  25. The idea of a dystopian future resulting from what Trump proposes is certainly intriguing fodder for fiction, but downright frightening in reality. But bending issues based in reality is a good way to challenge them, and spark solutions!

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    1. Samantha, I think whether or not the concept is frightening depends on where you take it in the world you build with it. I can envision utopian as well as dystopian. I can see a unifying effect as well as a divisive nature to it all. It's good to see many sides of an issue before dismissing it outright otherwise we can miss much either way.

      Lee

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  26. Hmmm, I foresee a world without borders. No country names, only grid lines. Free exchange of ideas, research, trade, etc. Humanity truly becomes one family. Now, that's a major fantasy. And so beautiful.

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    1. Feather, "Imagine there's no countries
      It isn't hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion too..."

      Unlikely in the world the way it is. Who concedes first? Who will be willing to compromise their values in favor of someone else? It's beautiful depending on who is really in charge and whose ideas prevail.

      Lee

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  27. Walls are a common story line in fiction. Think Stephen King's Under the Dome and the new TV series, Colony.

    From what I've read and heard Trump say, his statement that Mexico will pay for the wall is based on the trade deficit between the U.S. and Mexico. Whether he wants tariffs or some other method of creating a bigger equality in trade, it's easy to see that whatever Mexico is subjected to in additional costs is easily going to pay for the wall. I don't know why the media and all the hysterical politicians keep ignoring this--unless maybe they're so woefully ignorant of economics and trade negotiations that they don't see it.

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    1. Patricia, balancing out the trade deficit is just one way paying for the wall could be done. I've tried to offer other positive options. I'm puzzled by the way the media interprets a lot of things that Trump has said when they are so clear to me. When he stated a commonly held suggestion of sending illegals back through legal deportation processes it was blown all out of proportion to the extent that the reinterpretation I was hearing was about jack-booted thugs busting down doors and people transported like cattle in boxcars. That's just plain silly and illogical and they knew it. I don't think it is the ignorance at play as much as media and political spokespersons who want to prey upon what they perceive to be the ignorance of the people.

      Lee

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  28. I enjoy world-building. It's interesting to think about such things, sometimes. I can imagine a pretty dystopian world with the wall, but I haven't yet checked out your previous posts to see your take on it.
    I can believe it did get pretty heated in the comment section though. It's a hot topic right now, but I'd rather not get into politics. *shrug*

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    1. Madilyn, I guess we can become either aware of politics or become surprised later.

      Lee

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Lee