Re: truths

From: Canela (
Date: Thu Feb 10 2000 - 09:39:04 PST


    Maybe. I dunno, exactly, about all this stuff. You kinda sound like
school, and I'm trying to learn to talk out of school. Which is maybe
why you read my prose as "flat." Yeesh. I'm working on making it more
mountainous; buxom; bouffant; textured. Yeah, that's the ticket.


> Dear wire,
> I guess all this has to do with the choices we make about how to survive,
> with some semblance of sanity, or failing that, just survive. Truthtelling
> being a powerful path to that; and fiction-making being another. As to how
> much truth can be shoehorned into our fictions, well, it depends on one's
> imaginative and moral resources. One may paint it as an personal imperative
> (Steve, Canela, e.?) -- not "brave," but simply an imperative. But for me,
> the matter is less clear than that: _imperative_ suggests no choice; whereas
> for me it feels like there is an artistic, craftmanlike choice to be made as
> to the degree of distancing, abstracting of the raw material of personal
> biography, filtering and transmorgifying it through imagination/language.
> And the choices about how far to abstract, or how close to keep to Reality,
> feel like important artistic choices, with moral and aesthetic consequences.
> For me, the injunction to 'Just tell the truth' is both terrifying and
> impossible in art (though in quotidian life, hopefully, I deal truly).
> Steve, maybe you don't really need the mediations, the 'lies,' of art
> because you have the ability, or will, to tell your story in flat prose.
> And you, Canela. But for me, such unembellished telling would be akin to
> lucid dreaming: breaking through the reality-set of a dream in progress with
> the insight that one belongs to, comes from, a reality prior to, and more
> foundational than, the dream. It's an excellent ability to have, I surmise;
> but what of those of us who find our dreams entirely convincing? A gnawing
> horror, or dissonance, signals us that Something Is Wrong -- that things
> aren't quite kosher, maybe not exactly as they seem -- but still we can't
> find any thread with which to unravel the illusion. And this is an analogy
> describing the aesthetic choices of those of us who remain unwilling, or
> unable, to dispense with the distancing mediations of fiction, metaphor,
> allegory, farce, and the rest of the tackle box full of hooks, weights, and
> lures of the angler.
> In this sense fabulism (as opposed to reportage) is a sort of arsenic, or
> hemlock, or soma, which we imbibe in hopes of self-medicating for a
> condition better left to run its natural course: self-knowledge, memory,
> somatic memory, emotional memory: truth, in short. Just the facts,
> ma'am/sir.
> Then there is the language of action: the realm of the performative. It is
> possible to make of one's actions a statement, a fashioned thing, a piece of
> art, a symbolically/semiotically mediated work of imagination. And then one
> can produce more conventionally poetic, or fictional, works which link to
> and derive their referentiality from them. New Criticism doesn't help us
> much with such stuff (e.g., Anne Sexton's poetry). But in this sense art is
> embedded in a life-world, and cannot be meaningfully addressed apart from
> that life-world.
> Just some thinking aloud, in the wake of some powerful back-story by Steve
> and Canela.
> mark

"Misfortune, and recited misfortune especially,
may be prolonged to the point where it ceases
to excite pity and arouses only irritation."

Dorothy Parker

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Sun Nov 18 2001 - 12:13:00 PST