Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Who the Fuck Do You Think You Are? Just the Truth, Please.

 Although you do not set forth each day with specific instructions to speak the truth and respond with accurate reflections of how you feel, you have little or no issues so far as telling the truth is concerned.  By this trope, you mean the necessary acts of reporting what you see, think, and feel in direct proportion to the way you see, think, and feel them.

When the subject of telling the truth is present, you are aware that your score for truth telling is far from perfect, that you have with deliberation stretched the truth either to make you look good or in some relevant cases to avoid hurting the feelings of another..

Telling the truth becomes a more serious, even philosophical matter when dealing with characters you've created.  You want them to be true to who they are, which is why, on occasion, when one of them says something, you question it because it does not sound like the character, rather it sounds like you.

 If you are not careful, all the characters you create will sound like you, which puts a strain not only on dramatic intensity but on the larger concept of truth because if each of the characters is different and yet sounds like you, which is telling the truth and which is not?  Yet another question arises:  Are the characters sounding alike because their creator has tried to shout down their individual anarchy?

There are times when you get into this kind of contest within yourself, when you are not composing but in effect holding a meeting of the parliament that seats the varied aspects of you, some of whom are quite conservative, some middle-of-the-roaders, and others rather vocal liberals. 

These parliamentary proceedings begin being run more or less according to Roberts' Rules of Order, but on frequent occasion devolving into a shouting match where the main question has to do with truth.  For instance, "Who the fuck do you think you are?"

When you ask that question of yourself, which is to say of your combined, versatile, multifarious selves, you hope for a truthful answer.  But you know how things can get in the passions of argument.  You do replicate within the parliament of yourself the degrees of the culture into which you were born and with which you have struggles these many long years.  Is it truthful for you to say of yourself that you are a Jew and if the answer is either a yes or a no, what are the attributions?  

You often try to reconstruct from the fact of having been born into what you accept as a Jewish family, having at first greater associations with your birth culture than not.  In your search for identity, you've made serious attempts at pursuing the trail of a cultural identity, have never lied about your birth connection nor tried to pass as someone who is of no religious culture.

Some of these speculation arrive because you are rereading Chaim Potok's moving novel, My Name Is Asher Lev.  The novel of course resonates for you because Potok is a Jew, Asher Lev is a Jew, and in its profound and nuanced way, the Jewish culture radiates from the pages.  Yet none of these reasons is the real reason you are rereading the novel.  

The novel you've just finished rereading, Young Man with a Horn shares a relationship with you, with Asher Lev, and your reasons for rereading both.  Each book is about a serious performer, one a painter, the other a musician.  Each is about the process of a fictional individual becoming more real than many live humans because the fictional ones are in effect trying to become one with his chosen art.

In many ways, you're as curious about this process as you are about the culture you're trying to accommodate in some truthful way beyond mere name.  You know a good deal more about being a writer than you do about being a Jew.  But this is only one case where your background has produced an anomaly;you know X amount about writing on a scale of Y.  Whatever that X is, it leaves you wandering about, seeming smarter than you are.  Or perhaps seeming more desperate than you are?

Since the subject at hand is truth, then, truth to tell, perhaps you are the way you appear as a result of all those parliamentary meetings when the investigating committee calls you to testify.  Once you are sworn in, promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc etc, and you are asked the first question, "Who the fuck do you think you are?" you begin writing a story to find out.

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