The Stuff That Dreams are Made Of: The Real, the Unreal, and the Maltese Falcon

At the end of the 1941 John Huston film The Maltese Falcon, based on the Dashiell Hammett novel, Sergeant Tom Polhaus asks Sam Spade about the heavy, black statuette of a falcon that was the cause of all the mystery and murder.

“Heavy,” he says. “What is it?”

Our hard boiled detective, Sam Spade, replies, “The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.”

maltese-falcon-what-is-it

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The Truthiness of Apples in a Basket

Absolute truth: My dad wrote in response to my blog, “There are countless absolute truths. Example: Two apples added to a basket containing two apples will make a total of four apples in the basket.” I agree absolutely. I believe in baskets and apples. I believe in reality. (What a ridiculous statement!)

Subjective truth: Let me take out the “I believe–” and say, “Reality exists.” (Was I able to remove the “I believe–“? I wrote the statement “Reality exists,” so it must be what I believe. Strangely enough the existence of reality has been in question for quite some time, maybe even some of you readers doubt reality.)

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Believe Everything: It’s All True

I start writing this blog in my dreams, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. As I showed in The Magic Trick: Fiction is Reality, dreams are real, they happen. Every statement is a fiction, as I demonstrated in It’s All Fiction: Another Attempt to Tell the Story, yet we keep looking for truthiness. Why not abandon such a Quixotic quest? Why do we keep looking for truth?

Truth is a process not a product, an attempt, not an achievement. Truth is relative; different kinds of writing are true in different ways. Some writings may be true because the facts are very close to “reality”. Others may be true because they more accurately convey the writer’s experience of the event, the feelings, the impressions, and the personal significance. Some writings express a truth metaphorically or artistically or religiously or scientifically. All truth is partial and biased, but it is still true. In fact, it is all true in a sense. It is all true because it all exists, in coded form in books, databases and synapses in the brain, true because writing takes place as real events, events which actually happen, when the writer is writing and the reader is reading.

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The Magic Trick: Fiction is Reality!

Now that I have ripped up the book, I hand it back to you whole. I told you all writing is fiction, now I tell you all fiction is real. A magic trick!

As all of you know, magic tricks are fake. Alas, how we regret learning that the magic trick which put us into ecstasies of delight was false. Our father teaches us the important lesson that the magician was performing tricks to entertain us. We do  not believe our dad until he shows us how the trick was done, and then we realize begrudgingly that the magician was a liar. Yet we hold out the hope that the next magician will have some real power. We watch carefully trying to catch him at his tricks, but we hope, nevertheless, oh how we hope, to find one trick that cannot be figured out. We wait for the day when there will be magic, real magic! We are ready at any moment to believe.

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