from fantasy and kingdom, an association built around a mythology, a body of fiction, or a “creative achronism” of some kind (often vaguely medieval but may draw from any period or civilization). Fandom collectives tend to be live-in, relatively isolated, formally hierarchical (even if in reality governed by silent consensus), valuing personal loyalty and birthright, rich in lore and adventurous in lifemaking; their contrast to projects is often analogized to the art/science duality. A significant share of modern art, especially narrative, originates in or around fandoms, even when it makes no explicit use of a fandom lore; “by and large, lived art is what justifies fandoms to the outside world” (perhaps, now, even to themselves).  ■    Known from modernity, fandom-like roleplaying (virtual identities, psychic compartmentalization) wasnt taken entirely seriously even by the players; post-economy sparsening, receding senescence, “neotenic revolution” pushed roleplaying towards the mainstream but it remained “a sink, not a spring” from the meaningful complexity viewpoint. Back then, any worthwhile thinking or art could only be a rebellion, an emancipation, a discovery; the feeble — if bulky — output of fandoms was decidedly second-rate, “an after-hours hobby of the unambitious.” Long after fandoms had grown from entertainment clubs into a major way of life could the gray-bearded sages and kings in high castles be “listened to as such” by those uncommitted to the lore.  ■    Characteristically, fandoms reject open-ended progressions in favor of cyclic time (eternity incarnated, beyond B interpreted as an infinity of returns); they more readily build on achronal fantasy than actual history (too poor, too bloody) but when theres a historic strand it is often medieval “because Middle Ages are the most recent stopped-time episode (perhaps except our own).” Even strictly historic fandoms tend to admit behavioral and language modernisms (hugging, irony islands) — just as stylistic anachronisms (flashbacks, stream of consciousness) come natural to historical and fantasy authors.  ■    Theres a recurrent scare: as escapists shut themselves out in droves, the world grinds down to a halt. That “might be exactly whats happened” but theres a different metaphor: at some point, the booming escapist clubs — at first little more than an outlet for youth socialization and experimentation — simply tipped the scale; it was now the depleted worlds turn to feed on those who had left it: “geeks” “substituted for the world instead of conquering it.” People have always played games, finally they could do so freely; why escape from your daily chores into a neverland — only to be regularly pulled back — when you can “move into the fairy tale” forever? Whats this if not honorable retirement, “peace if not light” we have earned by now?  ■    In the past, societies that were able to rething traditions — e.g. constitutional monarchies — often found themselves ahead of those uncompromisingly self-hammering into a current idea of progress. What makes fandoms, for all their controversy, viable is their code of chivalry — the characteristic veiled pride, the principled fairness of birthright (“every Family a noble House”); the colored glass of a fandoms lore — easily outgrowing, in depth and breadth, any historical inspirations — justifies its otherwise implausible ethical and artistic insights, gives it strength to accept the big world without compromising its small one. These pillars are fragile, though; if it feels threatened (not necessarily by a personified evil will), a fandom may slide into isolationism, violent messianism, direct aggression; birthright stratifies, hierarchy verticalizes, in-game militancy gets real: “sloping into the dark” is known to go all the way to slavery and mind mutilation. Troubled fandoms are a common kind of societal emergency, always a focus of talk, research, active engaging, public ethi campaigns — though outside attention is easily perceived as hostile, aggravating the fandoms citadel mentality. Recovery is rarely achieved without generational renewal; by a wide enough consensus a sick fandom may be forcibly dissolved and reformed from a clean slate.

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