Saturday, December 24, 2016

Truth, the Knockoff Wristwatch of the Marketplace

For quite some time now, at least as far back as the switch from the twentieth century to the twenty-first, you've thought, written, and taught about the evolutionary progress of Story as a dramatic medium. One of your classes, "How to Write the Twenty-first Century Short Story," focused on point of view. Another seminar, "Fiction in the Twenty-First Century," began with a list of illustrative examples which at the same time confirmed and informed your vision.

Preparation for such courses and for reviews of newly published fiction reminded me how much you enjoyed focusing on this topic and, at the same time reminded you how important it is to you as the driving force to your own interest in composing your own fiction. In  truth, you were--and indeed are--still in the process of learning your craft to the point where you are aware of it much of your waking day and a portion of your sleeping hours.

At the same time drama has been evolving, so, too, has truth, which in your observation of it has been experiencing a tidal rather than steadily advancing movement. The outcome of your observations is the more obvious one in which you recognize how close a picture you provide of yourself when you attempt to provide a picture of truth.  

In effect, truth is an abstraction to the degree you are an abstract being; truth is tangible to the extent of your awareness of being defined by your honesty rather than your quest for truth.

You can still remember the degrees of impatience you felt at those early ages, where you encountered stories of individuals setting out on a quest for honesty and truth. Difficult to recall those times and those moments of impatience without recognizing your own near chronic impatience--the impatience to find ways out of what seemed to you the restrictions and powerlessness of your age.

You can also relate the diminution of your impatience to your discovery of and immersion in reading and, relying on your interest as well in truthfulness, your arrival at age seventeen or eighteen as one who considered himself well-read. A year or so at the then main library at UCLA cured you forever of the notion of being well-read, making one of your first deliberate negotiations with Reality by adjusting your self image to that of one who was sufficiently read, but only by the barest degree of sufficiency.

This negotiation with reality has placed your awareness on your obligation to continue reading, in effect to keep up with what you need to know in order to better recognize it, should you encounter it during the warp and weft of your days.

Truth, as an abstraction and a tangible quality, is under constant attack, by no means least of all from yourself, eager to see yourself as the protagonist of your personal narrative, the active rather than passive one, the seeker of qualities, abilities, and information that will allow you to provide direct assistance and quality of life to others beyond yourself.

This vision of yourself is under frequent critical scrutiny from within, asking you in the bluntest of terms when you are going to admit weaving fictions or untruths in which to clothe your own self-serving motives. Nor can you evade the bright light of inquiry by allowing how most humans are torn by the same binary, thus allowing yourself additional wiggle room from that id-like aspect of your inner life.

Story, when you get into your own, is difficult enough going when you consider the need to keep current with technique, which is to say the obligation to aspire at all times to achieve sufficient awareness; story becomes even more difficult when you need to keep current with the ebbs and flow of honesty within.

Truth may well be, as Keats observed, Beauty; Beauty may well be Truth, and that equation may well be all you need to know. But unless you are careful, Truth may also be a knockoff wristwatch, made in some garage by some counterfeiter who doesn't even know how to spell Genuine Swiss Movement.

No comments: