Friday, October 2, 2015

Fiction and Nonfiction on the Fulcrum of Irony

In a sense that has become more apparent to you over the past few years, composing nonfiction forces you to sort themes and concepts in your head, with a hope of arriving at a dramatic conclusion, while composing fiction has you starting out on some emotional journey with the hope of arriving at some thematic destination.

This leaves you with the awareness of these two approaches to composition balancing precariously on the fulcrum of irony.  Nonfiction, to you, represents the attempt to cope with information to the point where you take responsibility for it, internalize it, make it some how a part of your perception of the world and the way the world works.  

Through an odd combination of your accrued experiences, the stockpiles of accumulated facts and opinions, and a persistent curiosity about various of the approaches to literary criticism, you have become aware of a growing suspicion directed toward your formal education.  You question the outlier aspects of what you've come to think of as your polymath perversity, also known as your seemingly random, unstructured curiosity.  Faced with the growing awareness of your mortality, you are in effect determined to rid yourself of as much ignorance, naivety, and intellectual stubbornness as you can.

Harry S. Truman,the thirty-third president of the United States, left office while you were still an undergraduate, a fact that became more than a point of information you had to know as a political science minor.  

You recall with clarity the awareness of Truman, retired from office and living out approximately twenty years by taking up a vigorous and persistent study of history, starting from the ancient times of Herodotus and working his way to more contemporary times and issues, including the times and issues of his thirty-two predecessors as POTUS.

The binary hit your naive self.  Why would he immerse himself in such a study?  The other side of that argument was a significant moment for your education.  He studied history because he was interested, because he wanted tho, because, with all of his own fingerprints placed on the history of the U.S., he wanted more information, more awareness, more substance to back up his opinions.

You associate those thoughts with Harry S. Truman who, among other things, was the one who was willing to sign off on the atomic bomb testing and the subsequent dropping of such weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Years later, you learned of the implication that Japan may have been suing for peace before the bombs were dropped.  You still have no positive assurance that Truman was aware of such efforts.  You have observable and researchable history to assess.  You are pleased to call the beginnings of that assessment the Harry Truman Attitude.

It is your fortune not to have to retire from a job in the same way Truman did, nor to have the luxury of living the last twenty years in a comfortable home and lifestyle.  It is also your fortune to opt for the Harry Truman Attitude, nevertheless, to in effect study for the time you have ahead of you, to learn for yourself what you learned for others, and to learn at last the things you resisted learning.

While you are converting your nonfiction learning to your internalized learning, you will hope to be working on a few projects you have well in mind, infusing their dramatic reach with the useful details and opinions of your own devising, which speaks to that remarkable form of invention known as fiction.

There are times when you entertain the conviction that you turned to fiction primarily because you were not at all pleased with the facts you were presented with, wanted to make more of them, expand, them, elaborate them, twist and bend them until you understood how far you could twist and bend before they broke.

What you're saying here in effect is that you want to internalize as much information of interest to you as possible, while there's still time.  Perhaps your goal is to understand as much about story as possible, because story is the world, up for grabs.

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