Saturday, June 18, 2016

What is Fiction?

I've been on a melancholy streak recently. It's gone as far as to debilitate my writing. I hope it doesn't last. But it was Memorial day that left my heart dipped in acidic thought. 


Mainly, what was my writing accomplishing in this world of mindless parades and memorials [1] What was my fiction writing accomplishing? What does fiction writing in general accomplish? [2] And, more to the point, what do my pseudo essays accomplish? Can mixing fiction and non-fiction do much? Or am I merely confusing and irritating the reader?

That was the state of my chaotic mind when the muse hit: a quick visual of a character—a veteran—breaking down his life and all his sins done. [3] A consoling ear wanting only the veteran to be there and not elsewhere, told him to make right with God, the one who forgives all. The veterans scoffed and said he had enough of God, cared not a wit for his "forgiveness" and was only working until his death for the forgiveness of humanity because then came the fire. 

He meant the fires of hell, the hatred of God, but the civilian took it to mean an oncoming war, an ode to "The Fire Next Time". This was simply been the standard civilian reaction to most any veteran's statement, in that they take it to be violent.

This may seem like nothing, but allowing the muse to pass almost always multiplies my confusion and my triste. When this was combined with my thoughts, it make me wonder if such visualizations would turn into something worthwhile or if, as a piece of fiction, would it simply be useless since it relied on so much trope as to render it meaningless. 

Then, as I weighed its value as fiction versus non-fiction, I realized that it was most likely non-fiction. First it would gain more as non fiction. And second, it was possible that it was me going through the emotions of making right with humanity, my past sins. 

You've probably realized what I'm trying to do here. I'm not trying to confuse you [4], I'm merely trying to figure out what fiction and non-fiction mean to you when reading a text [5] And in this postmodern  world of minimal truths and only the biggest loudspeaker mattering, why does the fiction-non-ficiotn border matter? Or is it a myth we still need as a species or civilization?

Next thing I did, to wash away some of my melancholy, was to surf the internet. There I happened upon a short animation started to play on my computer. It was not so much a story as a video-easy. The narrator was speaking about how some civilizations tended to have myths about war, though it wasn't always certain if it was meant to assuage any post-war trauma. 

This one city on a hill spoke of evil spirits that stalked battlegrounds. They would tear off skin from dead warriors. Each evil spirit then pretended to be a warrior to the warrior's family or lover or wife. Thing is, everyone knows the warrior is dead, but this evil spirit still manages to make people think he's the warrior and slowly changes the survivor's perception of the warrior's untimely death and the reason for the war.

This is so effective a dance, that after the grieving of the family members is over, they are willing to go back to war, the multiple dead warriors animated and cheering them on, happy to have fresh new bodies in which to reside. 

In this specific story—there were many versions—the people found out that their king was the one who called these evil spirits. One day they decide to rid themselves of him. The end—and a happy one, right?

Except this wasn't a show I watched. Rather, it was a story I thought up, something to touch upon the trust that had descended upon me that day.

Once again I come back to that question: Why write? And does it matter that it's something I didn't really see? Is fiction better as fiction? Allowing you to put down your defenses—a trojan Horse, if you will—and let the idea in?

Or does the idea of it existing on the internet, a veritable idea-labyrinth, allow it some measure of stature and make it mean more? Or does it being fiction mean that it stretches your imagination in some way that non-fiction does not allow for? Thus by toying with the border, I'm doing a great disservice to the entire world?

I'm not sure. Really, I'm not. But as a writer, I sense that at least mimicking how futile it is to draw that line and to assume that all non-fiction represents truth while fiction is what's not real. Our current world seems to point to this being a natural state of humanity—so why draw that line? I'll continue to write pseudo essays and I'll continue to think that it represents a new way forward for writing. You?



[1] No I don't mean all of them and I don't use the word mindless that lightly.

[2] A quick look at even the "serious" tripe making it in literary circles is enough to make one weep. Of course even if it is serious, one wonders, like Jon Stewart, if it really matters in the end.

[3] The good we do is interred with our bones, while the bad we do lives long after

[4] And garner the reader's or consumer's hateful ire. A deathblow these days.

[5] And what it means to me when writing it? What does distance do to this seed of an idea? Anything worthwhile?



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