Thursday, July 24, 2014
It's All Fiction
You read it here first, and it’s pithy enough to be remembered. Writing, by being interpretive, can’t be anything but an invention, not matter how well-researched or objective.
I came by this realization recently at a used book store in Philadelphia. More than ten thousand books, many with obsessive footnoting and references to other, earlier works. Now certainly, had I been willing to do some research, I could have found the referenced works and inspected their footnotes, which would have led me to more fanatical and neurotic explorations... ad nauseam. But every single word written by all the authors and their sources were their words, the ones they thought best described the situation. And no two writers will ever see the exact same thing and describe it in the same manner. What is a bright fall day for me is the beginning of a dismal winter for you. So it’s all fiction.
And think of this: What, if the research assumed to be correct is wrong? More fiction. So what we have is a basic fact: every biography, investigative or history book, every scientific tome and learned volume purporting to tell us anything at all, is basically a work of fiction. We cannot write, or paint or sculpt absolutes.
To me, this is magnificently entertaining because I like subjectivity. I am much more interested in how things are perceived than how they really are, and anyway, I have a pretty strong suspicion that no one has a clue as to what really is. We just like to think we do...
How amazing. Rene Magritte was right. It wasn’t a pipe at all, just one man’s idea of what a pipe is supposed to look like. That makes my day.