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).

Continue reading “Fiction Precedes and Defines Non-Fiction”

When a Reader Enters a Book: Sampson and Quixote

How would you feel if you heard that a book had been written about you without your knowledge or permission? You would worry, I’m sure, about how it portrayed you. Unfortunately, Don Quixote has just learned from Sancho Panza that a book of their exploits is spreading across Europe and the book portrays him a madman and Sancho a fool. The knight dispatches his chubby squire to fetch the bachelor who has read the book El Ingenioso Hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.

Continue reading “When a Reader Enters a Book: Sampson and Quixote”

La Mancha: The Stain of Truth

Mancha, in Spanish, means “stain,” and in La Mancha, the region Don Quixote comes from, everything is true. So, for our purposes the excellent word “Mancha” will symbolize truth, which stains every page of Cervantes’ masterpiece (not to mention your screen).

Continue reading “La Mancha: The Stain of Truth”

Don Quijote: The Impossible Truth

Don Quijote de la Mancha is the impossible truth: the book is a fiction, a lie, and yet it is true. Truer than a non-fiction biography of Cervantes. We would only read such a bio because we love our mad knight-errant and his earthy squire, Sancho Panza. The novel tells us much more about the real Cervantes than any bio could every do: valet, soldier, ransomed by pirates, soldier, tax collector, convict (jailed for discrepancies  in the accounts while tax collector), poet, playwright, and the first modern novelist.

Continue reading “Don Quijote: The Impossible Truth”

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.)

Continue reading “The Truthiness of Apples in a Basket”

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.

Continue reading “Believe Everything: It’s All True”

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.

Continue reading “It’s All Fiction: Another Attempt to Tell the Story”

“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.

Continue reading “A Not Not-True Tale About a Very Short, Simple Morning”