Introduction: What do I Mean by Worlds?

 

I am enamored with worlds: the concept and the tangible reality of them. It is a connecting thread between topics usually considered to be separated by vast gulfs of information and categorization. There are worlds both within us and without, real and fictional, created and observed. To access other worlds, in a fictional sense, requires the use of portals of some kind. This figurative portal is a chance to explore those many worlds.

You, lovely human, probably aren’t sure what to expect from this little page standing alone in a tumultuous sea of data and distraction. That’s understandable. There isn’t exactly one topic I want to cover ground over. There will be several very strong themes permeating what you will ultimately see here, should you feel a spark of curiosity and return. I’ll summarize as best I can what is most likely to be found here by first telling a bit of a story.

My two greatest childhood loves were animals and fantasy stories. While these are, of course, pretty common interests for a young girl, my imagination was a bit wilder than most of the other children I knew. I pretended to visit other realms and go on magical quests, I pretended to be dozens of kinds of animals real and fictional, and sometimes I did both at the same time. I kept this up a bit more than was usual, which led to a significant (to my sensitive young mind) ostracism from a good portion of my peers. Despite this and with the help of a few close friends I was able to cultivate my interests even more into my adolescent life. That is a story unto itself; my point is that, childhood desires to visit a magical kingdom or become an animal unfulfilled, I strove instead to learn more.

During my formative years, I dove headlong into the lore and worlds created by others (the works of J. K. Rowling, Rachel Roberts, Bruce Coville, Erin Hunter, and Christopher Paolini were particularly impactful) and tried to learn everything I could about the natural world. I wanted to understand them all: build a catalog in my head of worlds. I became fascinated with the potential for life on other planets and added them (mostly moons like Europa and Titan) to my mental database of worlds as well.

In my last years of adolescent education (and yes, in our current information-loaded culture I consider college to be the last in-common years of maturation from adolescence) I realized the importance of inner worlds as well as outer. Our minds are worlds unto themselves, capable of profound creation and destruction. It isn’t just our human minds, though, that could be worlds. A comparable level of mental vastness could exist in other species, at least in those that are self-aware. I wanted to understand what levels of subjective awareness could potentially exist in those species and others. How are these mental worlds built and maintained? The study of cognition and its implications for how we view each other and other species is something I still find great meaning in.

Now I have a few questions to answer before this post is through:

So what do I mean by “world?” I mean most everything the word could connote. I mean our actual world on macro and microscopic scales: Earth, other potentially life-harboring planetary bodies, the universe, the natural and artificial worlds, and the worlds of different groups of life. I mean worlds we create: the different planets, planes of existence, alternate realities and histories, and diverse characters present in all forms of fiction media. I also mean subjective worlds: the representations of reality and self built within the minds of humans and the approximations of such that lie in the brains of other organisms. Different individual topics within these broad themes will appear on this site. For now, there are plans for a series on non-human animal cognition, a series on ways to help save our world, and a series of reviews on the worlds of books I have read (and possibly other media). There will be plenty of posts on other topics and connecting threads as well.

So who am I? For now, my job would be along the lines of science educator at a natural attraction. I have aspirations of authoring books. I am a “Level 1” scientist with an undergraduate degree. I am a parent. I enjoy creative pursuits, nerdy hobbies, and have an insatiable curiosity. The Portal is an outlet for all of those aspects of myself. It is also a less formal way to practice my skills at writing, research, and education.

So what is the purpose of this blog? That is multifold.

  1. I believe there is an overbearing tendency of humanity to divide and categorize. This is very useful when first building understandings of things, but it isn’t how reality actually works. Based on what I have seen it seems like there exists a predisposition for people to maintain those borderlines too strictly. I want to break down the divisions and illuminate some connecting lines. Most of my posts will be about one specific topic, yes, but they will all have this unifying theme and I will try to build bridges where I can.
  2. One of the most common goals in fantasy is to “save the world.” Many fictional worlds start out in grave peril. Unfortunately for us, the real one is too. I always try where possible to cultivate awareness of how people can help save our world; this is another platform for that goal.
  3. I have built up a pretty substantial knowledge base of many of the topics I’ll write about and am a practiced hand at research (being a science major will do that to you) and I am hoping my collections of information and decently educated opinions will help others learn.
  4. I’m trying to build connections between those inner worlds, too. Empathy is one of the most important traits humanity is capable of. If I can foster that, even a little, I will be accomplishing a great deal.

Perhaps there are other purposes behind The Portal, but those are the most important.

With all of that in mind, I hope you do find that spark of curiosity and return to see what’s new. My current writing goal is one post every two weeks which could pick up or slow down depending on many factors. I am a bit of a newb at blogging, so suggestions of any kind are appreciated.

Remember: there are other worlds everywhere you look—even in yourself.

Especially in yourself.

 

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