Someone once asked me which of the characters in one of my stories was me. My answer was that all of them were me, even the not very nice ones; they all came from my imagination. None of them are real people although I do hope that they are real, believable characters.
Kali, the fox I imagined in one of my short stories, is an attempt to experience life from a predator’s perspective. As a female mammal, I can somewhat empathise with her strong maternal drives on the physical level, but it’s imagination that allows me to describe her experience. I don’t really know what it’s like to be a fox, or anything other than myself for that matter.
Thinking a little more deeply about the subject, I realize that we as humans are probably the only creatures who actually fantasize about what could be, rather than just experiencing what is, and it is these imaginings of better things or circumstances which have pushed human evolution forward, and attempted to balance our more destructive tendencies. Perhaps Descartes’ statement, ‘I think, therefore, I am’, should be amended to ‘I imagine, therefore, I am human’.