Purpose: To Rehabilitate Reality through Metafiction

It might seem that I am trying to demonstrate the unreality of reality. Many others have done so, including Taoists, Hindus and Buddhists. Jews, Christians and Muslims, following Plato’s lead, think God’s ideal realm is realer than this world. Religious people are not the only ones to call reality an illusion. Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world,” and Jacques Derrida suggested, “There is nothing outside the text.”

Instead, my purpose is to show that the distinction between fiction and reality is artificial, created by language. Fiction and reality both exist as concepts within the same linguistic structure; symbols and stories are essential parts of our reality system. Everything we talk and write about is fiction, yet fiction has material existence, therefore it is real. Separating fiction from reality only drives us, like Don Quixote, to narrative madness.

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Fiction Precedes and Defines Non-Fiction

Yet even fiction is a fiction, a word which developed out of the Latin fingere, “to fashion or form.” In the Oxford English Dictionary, the first definition of “fiction,” now obsolete, is “the action of fashioning or imitating,” and is related to the verb “to feign.” The word first referred to all kinds of art,  “The . . . Art of Painting . . . surpassing by so many Degrees . . . all other Human Fiction, or imitative Art” (Lord Shaftesbury in his Characteristicks).

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A Not Not-True Introduction to Donald Barthelme and “The School”

Sixty StoriesThis introduction to Donald Barthelme’s short story “The School” is non-fiction. Non-fiction means “not fiction.” Fiction, as you have learned, is a story that is “not true.” In other words non-fiction, on a linguistic level, is “not not-true.” This means, logically, when you cancel out the negatives, that the non-fictional information I am about to give you, is — I am very pleased to say — true.

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The Conventions of Unconventionality: An Overview of Metafiction

An overview of major themes I found while studying metafiction for the Metaclass, a self-study course for a masters of literature at San Francisco State University. This summary will also serve as a guide to the posts I have written over the last four months (with notes about a few others I intend to write). It is not meant to be a comprehensive list of meta conventions, but an addition to the the list found under Meta-Meta and Metafiction. (Nor is this intended to be a summary of themes I developed about writing and teaching, the metaclass aspect. Those themes may be found in Putting It All Together: Collaborative and Integrated Reading and Writing.)

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It’s All Fiction: Another Attempt to Tell the Story

All night in my dreams I’ve been working on this blog. Are dreams fictions or are dreams truth? Truth or fiction, dream or reality, there is something in my brain that wants to know, that keeps trying to work it out, that keeps saying, “No, that’s not quite it.”

I’ve already shot a lot of electrons across the screen trying to show how all writing is fiction, but I don’t feel I have covered it yet. So, I will take advantage of the fluid nature of a blog and try again. Since this is not an academic paper or a published book, I don’t have to pretend it is a final product, my ideas solidified and neatly packaged. Rather this blog is a work in progress, an ongoing conversation with myself and with you (whoever you are), a continuing project to understand stories by telling stories, to make sense of the universe with the parts of the universe at my disposal, namely myself, a computer, and a language.

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“Where is Truth?” I Ask You

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”

A Not Not-True Tale About a Very Short, Simple Morning

(A shortened version of this post appears in my book Narrative Madness, available at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon.)

I have just decided to write the non-fiction story of my short and simple morning so far. Since “fiction” is a story that is not true, “non-fiction” means it is not not-true. Cancel the negatives, and I am happy to say that the account I am about to give is true. The tale is easy to tell because it has only been half an hour since I woke up.

Well, more like forty four minutes. I said “half an hour” to emphasize the simplicity of my task, but I want to be accurate (I should add that at the time of this revision, fifty five minutes have passed [at this point of the third revision, two hours and twelve minutes during the third revision {and more than two years for this revision for my book Narrative Madness!}]). These facts are provable since I am using Google Docs and WordPress, which record the time of each revision. I haven’t even started telling the story of my morning, yet it is difficult to be accurate. I will do my best.

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