I've forgotten the source and the exact wording, but I was struck yesterday by a quotation I saw printed next to a sudoku puzzle. It said, approximately, "Sometimes I'm amazed by how little attention I give to real world stuff."
This, it seems to me, is one of the defining attributes of contemporary life, at least for people like me. I read fantasy and science fiction, watch superhero movies, and mainly play video games in which I can be a wizard. Some of my other interests are technically real world, but as far as my own life goes they might as well be fantasy: ancient and medieval history, space exploration.
These habits are widespread. I was back in Ellicott City with my son Wednesday night, watching hundreds of people catching virtual Pokemon.The most eagerly awaited work of art of any sort right now is probably the next Game of Thrones novel. There is also a huge amount of stuff in our culture which is real world but not very real, like professional sports and celebrity gossip. And what about music, which remains a mystery despite the explanatory efforts of a legion of evolutionary psychologists? What about art?
This is not really new. Many of the best human minds of the past were taken up with abstruse theology, or the development of elaborate mythic systems. Mathematics was developed to track the stars and planets, for reasons of faith more than anything else.
I don't have anything profound to say about this, I was just struck by the thought that I, and billions of others, prefer to think about almost anything rather than what actually feeds and houses us. For many of us, our minds are too big for our daily needs, so we find other ways to fill them.