Was there metafiction in The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest known epic, an encounter of a real king of Sumeria and a wild man, Enkidu? Well, the first writers were writing about their own experience of being civilized, a rather painful process we must all go through, but it wasn’t necessarily metafiction because it doesn’t highlight its own fictionality.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens is a printed text and the book frequently reminds readers of that fact, so that readers can not accept the text literally, but are goaded into carefully and skeptically examining the two narratives and the various documents central to the story.
The world of the novel is soaked in ink. The view from Lady Dedlock’s window is “alternately a lead-coloured view, and a view in Indian ink” (8). Miss Jellyby’s fingers and face are covered with ink stains and she complains that she “can’t do anything hardly, except write” (41). The desk and table of the “law-writer” Nemo, are described as a “wilderness marked with a rain of ink” (122). The homeless boy Jo, when asked about the inquest, refers to it as the “ink-which” (208).
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.)
Is this a realistic narrative? A little girl with dimples and pink ribbons gets the puppy she wanted for her birthday, even though her mother has said they couldn’t afford it. The girl wraps her pudgy arms around her mom’s neck and whispers, “Thanks, Mommy-cakes. I love you so much.”
Not very realistic? Why not? Such things don’t happen? Or does the tale sound like the type of story that makes people smile and feel good. It may be “heart-warming,” but it isn’t what we call “realistic.”
The impossibility of producing a truthful account of any event, however uncomplicated it might seem, I tried to show in “Who is Writing This?” and “A Not Not-True Blog of a Short, Simple Morning.” Every piece of writing, fiction or non-, requires the creation of a speaker, who may (or may not) share certain characteristics in common with the writer, for example a name, a gender, a context. Nevertheless, this speaker is not the writer. Make no mistake. Even the most honest speaker must necessarily present themselves more simplify or preface every utterance with a story as long as their lives. Continue reading ““Where is Truth?” I Ask You”
Meta, meta, meta!
What is all this metacrap? Is this just a bouncy little prefix you can attach to any word to give it a little twist, as in “I never meta-man I didn’t like”? Or, “It’s easy for Metamucil to like itself!” Or, “I had a metathought about a metathought. I never thought I could think about thinking without thinking a thought, but I think I thought a metathought without ever thinking a thought!”
I am not writing this. This blog is writing me.
I did not want — nor was I able — to write this myself. I will create a persona as I go along, let’s call him Ronosaurus, that will do the work for me, someone simpler, who does not get pimples nor have a crick in his neck (such things will not be mentioned). Not only will I simplify, I will fictionalize myself and make myself seem smarter, more well-read, wittier, and, while I am at it, better looking. But this is not a story about me, it is a story about stories. To tell it, I must invent a speaker, which I will call, for convenience, myself. The needs of the blog will determine the voice I use. If you know it is a lie and I know it is a lie, then I will be telling the truth.