As happens every once in a while, I've had the strange feeling all day of missing someone who died seventy years before I was born.
As a longtime devotee of fiction and fictional characters – I take fictional characters inordinately seriously; that's a topic for another post, or possibly therapy – having a cloud of imaginary friends in my head is nothing new, and enjoying their company on and off the page is a fun imaginative exercise as well as dubious coping strategy in rough times. Having this proclivity well established, getting into a massive epic story full of interesting people who happen to have really existed has been, in many ways, much the same thing, prompting many thinks about what the actual, material, quantifiable difference is between someone who is no longer on the planet and someone who never has been.
Here's the thing, though. However attached I might have been to whichever fictional character(s), no matter what I was going through, I never missed them. However much I enjoyed spending time with Remus Lupin or Moist Von Lipwig while reading or drawing them, I never felt their absence when I wasn't doing so. In fact, having "met" them was only ever additive: they weren't in my head, then they were, and always would be. Both Sherlock Holmes and Birdie Bowers exist, now, only in text and images and people's heads, but one has left a hole in the world and the other filled a hole we didn't previously know existed. Is there some intangible something about the impression made in reality by a living breathing human being, vs that of an imagined one, no matter how thoroughly drawn? Is it something you can pick up on subconsciously just by reading about them, or ... something else?
Today's overanalysed lapse in sanity has been brought to you by fatigue straining the fabric of reality and preventing me from doing the work that ought to be taking up my attention.