#105 – The Fictionality of Nationhood

Our species has few illusions as destructive as that of nationality. This is an illusion within an illusion—within the illusion of the other. We all know that The Game of Thrones is an illusion, a fictional story. But what about Northern Ireland where much of the series was filmed? Mark O’Connell when visiting Northern Ireland recently sensed something similar to the point we are making in this essay. “I’ll admit that this is not a particularly sophisticated view to take of the historical and cultural complexities of the region, but whenever I am there I can’t help thinking of Northern Ireland as a place that has been no less imagined into existence than Westeros, only more thoroughly and completely.” (1)

In fact, the term used to refer to the self-destructive behavior relating to nationality and belief in the other, namely “The Troubles,” could apply to the Global Village as a whole. In other words, The Game of Thrones is a metaphor for our unconscious, delusional species.

Astronauts have commented that they see no national boundaries on the planet from outer space. “The invisibility of the partition [between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland] as an infrastructural phenomenon reinforces this niggling sense that some kind of collective fantasy is being enacted. If you didn’t know anything about the context, you could almost wind up thinking there was something vaguely whimsical going on, some gigantic and inscrutable performance-art piece that maybe had something to do with the fictionality of nationhood.” (1)

Remembering that a collective’s worldview determines its identity, we come to realize that our imagined story (our beliefs, attitudes and values) determines our destiny. “Despite the widespread tendency to think of them as immutable geopolitical facts, states are structured on stories, and sustained through acts of collective imagination. Over the complex and tedious reality of Britain’s relationship with the European Union, Brexit superimposed, among other things, a fantasy of tyranny and liberation, a return to a great national past of heroism and glory.  … Fiction, at a number of points, was exerting an existential pressure on the structure of reality.” (1)

There are many fictions or illusions exerting pressure on the structure, not of reality, but on the structure of our unsustainable narrative (paradigm B). The structure of reality (paradigm A) is immutable and the sooner we make the shift to a story that supports our True self the sooner we will experience reality rather than such illusions as nationalism and the other.

Click on the link below to see the contrast between our current unsustainable narrative and a life-enhancing context.

Insight # 105:  The ultimate aim of the quest must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others. (2)



  1. O’Connell, Mark. “Fantasy Island.” The New York Times Magazine. April 21, 2019, pages 26-27.
  2. Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth. New York: Bantam, 1988, page xv.

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