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.
All writing requires the invention of a speaker. What I wish to say here determines what kind of speaker I produce, which is why I said in Who is Writing This? “I am not writing this. This blog is writing me.” In order to write, I must simplify my personality and history. This blog does not arise from that part of myself that wants to eat breakfast and needs to pee, nor that aspect of myself that thinks all of this is a waste of time and, worse, utter bullshit, nothing more than mental masturbation. My persona develops, however, as I go along. I have altered it here by speaking of being hungry and doubting my own words. Whenever I need another aspect of my personality or detail of my history, I reach for it and it is there. Until I need them, those parts of Ronosaurus are blank. (I need to stop revising and go pee!) Even if I show myself as honestly and plainly as possible, it will always be a simplification, else I would have to give you the history of my life, as I tried to show in “A Realistic Story of a Little Girl with Dimples, or Conventions.” Yet, to understand my life fully, you would need to know the background of every person, place and event, and in order to grasp the full significance of those things, you would need to learn the context of each, and so on and so on and so on. No speaker is complete that is smaller than the universe itself.
All writing also imagines a reader for itself, otherwise, why bother to spell it all out? If I explain something, I must be explaining it to someone, even if that person is imaginary. The recluse Henry Darger wrote the longest novel of all time, “In the Realms of the Unreal,” 15,143 pages all for an imaginary reader or for himself, that is the other half of himself that was not writing. The readers I imagine for myself are necessarily simplifications, no ficionalizations, of any real readers I might expect. I am not writing to whole beings, but to certain aspects of certain people I think might read this, possibly even strangers.
What I say excludes everything I do not say. Every statement, however true, is inaccurate in that it leaves out everything else. Even when we add all of our statements together and make a text or when we add all the texts together and make a database, that database still excludes everything outside itself. We would need a database as big as the universe to contain all truth, until then everything is simplification, partial truth.
All writing must be in code. Writing is never the events themselves, nor the ideas, nor the facts. I am living in San Francisco is not the reality, it is a coded statement which is only active when it is being produced or being consumed. Otherwise it is inert, a fiction. When a piece of writing is read, it is then recreated in the mind of the reader. What is read is never exactly what was written. What is experienced is never what happened. It is twice removed: once, when it is put into code and once, when it is read.
I would go further and say that readers invent personas for themselves which change depending on what they are reading and why. You are not reading with your whole being; you read with that part of yourself which wants to learn something or which wants to be entertained or which wants to wants to critique what I am saying, but you are not reading with that part of yourself that thinks you shouldn’t have done what you did last night, that is in a different part of your mind.
Let’s try again to put all that together. Every piece of writing is fiction because writing always:
- invents a speaker
- imagines a reader for itself
- excludes everything outside itself
- comes from a particular perspective
- has a specific agenda
- exists in coded form
- is rewritten in the mind of the reader
This wasn’t the blog I dreamed about, just the beginning of that blog. Well, not even that, a fictionalization of what I dreamed about. Does that make it untrue? That question is still pending.