Metaphysics has a long and illustrious history in western thinking. From Aristotle to Hume (who mistrusted metaphysics), men have been asking pertinent questions about the state of being. What are the origins of the universe? The first causes? The defining principles? Although there is a religious branch to metaphysical inquiry, much of it is philosophical, i.e. dialectic.
What happens when a genre of fiction takes on the descriptor “metaphysical”? One would expect that a book taking on such a label would delve into the philosophical nature of being, that it would wrestle with philosophical ideas through characters and their story problems that get the audience thinking at least about the probing questions of science. After all, the term was originally coined for some of Aristotle’s writings, and it was a term denoting a method of organization. The word literally means “after physics” — that is, these were the writings that literally came after the ones on physics. However, the term has evolved over the centuries to denote a level of inquiry that is figuratively beyond physics. So one would expect that, further, metaphysical fiction would be about the spiritual or immaterial reality that can’t quite be grasped by what we know of as the scientific method.
What happens when an uneducated populace writes and publishes and slaps the Amazon descriptor “metaphysical” on their books all by themselves? You end up with books that probe neither nature, nor that which is immaterial. Rather, the term gets tipped on its head by any definition: you get werewolves (which do not exist according to any scientific inquiry that I know of) having erotic sex with gorgeous heroines (you can’t get any more material than that).
Yesterday, I felt a little uneasy that my book was #1 in metaphysical, as I now expect to either get scathing reviews by readers who expected sex with animals, or to be ignored altogether and deleted from respective Kindles. But then I started laughing at the absurdity of it all and began pondering the above. I do not, by any measure, consider myself a better writer than those writing werewolf fantasies. Nor do I consider my book(s) to be masterpieces. I have no literary pretensions (just educative ones: see following). But what is fairly obvious is that I’m better educated than those slapping the term “metaphysics” on their books. Either that, or they are shysters taking advantage of an uneducated populace. Whatever way you want it, the philosophical bedrock of western civilization is groaning in horror beneath us.
For the record, as I was looking through the free books in the metaphysical section, I downloaded a couple of titles that actually appear to be what they claim. It seems I unwittingly helped push my book to #2 by downloading one called Robots Like Blue, by one Anthony J. Deeney, but I don’t care. At least the werewolves, fairies, and witches are not #1. Here’s a hint: if your book is all about fantasy creatures and does not delve into the immaterial or scientific reality of the universe, then it is fantasy or paranormal. If your book is, say, like Mike Duran’s The Ghost Box, and contains both magical creatures and a deep look at the nature of reality, then it could be all of the above. Okay, I’m done being a snot now. Carry on, world. Carry on.