To discover just how pervasive a force fantasy is, we need look no further than the fairy-tale life of Claudia Schiffer: born to a German lawyer and housewife; infused with dreams of joining her father's firm; spotted, instead, by a modeling agent who found her in a local nightclub celebrating a friend's birthday; crowned an international supermodel in the early 1990s, by all accounts when the profession hit its peak; engaged, for six years, to the world's most famous magician; moved to pen an autobiography entitled Memories; known to spend her time painting flowers and small animals; and, of course, imagined by untold millions as a willing partner for walks down the beach. Childhood dreams, too-good-to-be-true coincidences, middle-aged nostalgia, artistic imagination – Ms. Schiffer appears to have lived almost as many fantasies as she has generated.

With such a variety of fantasies available, it might be worthwhile clarifying exactly what it is Topic 2: Fantasy intends to explore. One alternative, a misreading of unicorns, dragons and mystical lands, focuses on all the ways that fantasies are unleashed from reality. We found this sort of inquiry to be an intellectual dead end. To dismiss fantasies as unreal – nonsensical clouds into which we occasionally drift – is to believe that fantasies don't matter.

A much more interesting investigation focuses on the intersections between facts and fictions: the leashes as well as the figments they bind. This point of view offers a colorful spectrum of mental indulgences, each of assorted distances tethered with varying elasticity to what we might call home base. Granted, it is sometimes difficult to notice any leashes on galloping unicorns or fire-breathing dragons. But as a six year old could probably tell you, not even these figures orbit freely. The most fantastic of make-believe is still made and, to some degree, believed.

Our contributors remind us just how much exists between home base and the faraway creations of our minds. In our daily lives we bump into many low-flying fantasies, some even unrecognizable as such: the comforts nad dangers of self-delusion, the generative power of imagination, the driving ambition of dreams, the addictive joy of gambling, the humbling demand for sex. Rarely are these fantasies singularly helpful or dangerous; more often they embody a messy combination of the two. But all fantasies -- springing from our heads with Athenian vigor – share the quality of necessity. We depend on them to ascribe meaning to our normal lives, as well as to provide rationales when situations become abnormal. Fantasies are at once our gin and our tonic: spiking life's banality, while tempering its absurdity.

This magazine continues to believe that the best way to understand wide-ranging and powerful subjects is to open the conversation up to those who know the topic best. In the swirling accounts of Zimbabwe, World War II, and escapes from Harvard, our writers in the previous issue attacked the topic of war from all sides. It was an unexpected collection, whose success lay in each contributor's shared intellectual curiosity. The vistas of fantasy are a large jump from the trenches of war, but in Issue Two, variety of voice and insistence on critical thinking remain paramount. Our objective, as always, is to understand each topic with a new richness, to search out new opinions, and ultimately to reevaluate our own. In turn, we invite you to read about fantasy, reconsider fantasy, and have some fantasies yourself. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices if the Claudia Schiffer centerfold did not arrive.

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Topic Magazine
Issue 2 | Autumn 2002

Joanna Guldi &
David Haskell
Editor in Chief
David Haskell
Managing Editor
Robert B. Gilpin
Senior Editors
Eliza Young &
Nicholas Macgregor
Solicitation Director
Eliza Young
Contributing Editors
Vassiliki Afentoulidou, Clément Daniel, Christopher Douglas, Maggie Evans, Joanna Guldi, Michael Morgan & Thi Nguyen
Art Director
Daniel B. Visel
Mohit Bhende
Assistant Publisher
Maggie Evans
Geraldine Parsons &
Caroline Reed
Nilima Gulrajani, Walter Rentzsch & Sandra Scanlon
Nicholas Macgregor
Web Designer
Shawn Cheng
Web Content Editor
Robert Colvile
Staff Photographer
Melanie J. Ross
Director, California Office
Joanna Guldi

Contents copyright ©2003 the authors and Topic Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material here is forbidden without prior permission.

Topic Magazine is a quarterly non-fiction publication of unparalleled variety of voice. Each issue invites an international collection of writers and photographers to comment on a timely topic. In keeping with its mission, Topic respects the original spelling of its authors. Texts written by American authors are edited in American style; texts by British authors in British style. Topic is edited in Cambridge and New York.

We accept and welcome unsolicited manuscripts. We prefer receiving all proposals over email. We also accept submissions at either postal address.