iction is the creation of worlds that are anything but reality. Still, every fiction reveals a truth. A fiction
evokes the imagery of our own lives as a mortar to construct worlds in our imagination, and in a way, gives a glimpse of ourselves and our
relationship of the world if we look at it a certain way. Upon reading a fiction, the more rich and evocative the fictional world that arises from it,
the more rich and evocative the life that imagines it, and the more in reality they are. But upon entering these worlds is exactly where we should
heed caution. So let's be cautious.
I forget who she was, but she said something like "The purpose of literature is to prove that other people exist". Perhaps a bit too existential for
my tastes, but it is a notion that is pleasing to my ears. The fictional character is the inverse of a real human being—a human inside-out. Neither
eye to eye nor skin to skin, we do not have that visceral and immediate sensual experience of them—their look, their movement, their presence—but
we are privy to their sordid and tangled minds, and our imagination does the rest. The exact opposite is the case when we behold the bare reality of a
being. No mind, no fiction is apparent upon reading them. Then, they speak...and our imagination does the rest.
If you'll allow me to present another fiction, here the always lithesome Language enters the light in all her unsullied beauty. Only within language
and expression can the spirit truly exist as it finally reveals itself to our senses, allowing bodies and minds to tangle with one another at a
distance—to comfort, to fight, to belittle, to make love, and wonder, and especially to imagine, unlike any other relationship in the known
universe. Only beneath and raveled within the lace dress of Language does the mind exist—and the same with your gods, your laws, your spirits and
promises, you superstitious ones. I beg you to point to me anywhere else in the world where you might pin these words in all confidence, except upon
these words themselves.
Language is the first of her kind in history, the titan among titans, and that slow, unwilling and mediocre sapient, the last over-ripe species of its
once majestic genus, is the Prometheus of this grand story. Irony, once again, is alive... or so one might say. But only through language can we prove
that we exist.
But dearest friend, as you know already, there is a certain principle in fiction known as “show, don’t tell”, a cliché that creative writing
students hate to hear and creative writing teachers hate to explain. The idea is to treat the audience as if they were beings who possess a human
imagination rather than beings who need to be told through brute force what to think. I find this motivation to be in good taste. The author who shows
as opposed to simply tells relies on the reader’s own imagination to do much of the work for her, and to facilitate filling in the blanks by
utilizing the visceral, the sensual, and the objective, to bring the reader as much as possible into her fictional world. Upon reading, a somewhat
intimate relationship between the author and her reader forms as both imaginations combine in unison to flesh out an entirely unique story as it is
filtered by two entirely unique minds. Every fiction is a fiction of this reality, and not another one, no matter to what extent this reality is
distorted to suit it.
Though the use of rigid formulas for creative endeavors can only be a mental straight-jacket, and such principles such as "show, don't tell" should be
used with discretion no matter how much a self-proclaimed authority tries to pound it into you, without first understanding such rules one could never
hope to properly break them.
However, this cliché has another function besides helping to paint a more rich and sensual fictional world in our own imaginations. I claim it has
another, more subtle use as a measure in determining what stories can be applied to reality and what stories cannot.
As an illustration, let us evoke our own imagery of our favorite fiction, God. We are unable to. God possesses no detail and no setting, and only
vague terminology could ever hope to conjure any notions in its regard. We can use nothing of reality to describe it. We cannot take any combination
of things nor ideas to evoke such a being. It has no immediacy, no power, no shape. It is no longer a question whether such an entity exists in
reality, but whether it is even possible to, given that not even the boundless human imagination could evoke it from anywhere else but the fiction it
is contained within.
As the history of of theism shows, with such notions, we can only be told and not shown. There is no detail, no metaphor, to help evoke images in our
own imaginations, and this is not because such descriptions are poor in form, but that they are poor in reality. What's worse, by attempting to force
this fiction in reality, to claim it is not a fiction, the imagination, the evoking spirit, who by utilizing a life's experience to engage in
creation, is instead negated and suppressed upon imagining it. No imagery, no depiction, no imagination allowed. Tell, don’t show—the
contradiction of a fiction that promulgates a spirit, yet denies it play.
Not until we imagine the work of Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel, or the work of Da Vinci with his Last Supper—true artists, who put together
from the stuff of reality, an image, a fiction for our lusting senses—could we ever imagine a relationship with such entities and settings. And to
those great authors of the Bibles, who by weaving reality into their story by way of metaphor and allegory, albeit somewhat ironically, gave us
realities upon which to imagine, no matter how much they distorted it to suit their creative needs.
And if only we could evoke the imagery of the dear Buddha, the man seated lotus-like in a sort of smug serenity, but when we do, we are only nodding
to Greek sculpture and Hellenistic influence, probably inspired by depictions of Apollo. Before the conquests of the Great Alexander, Buddha was never
depicted as a man at all.
Our fictional nature is a reality. In other words, we can learn from it. A setting formed in the imagination so as to facilitate a fiction is in
direct proportion to the setting experienced in one’s life.
Oh great Irony. Oh Fiction and Language. Through your stubbornness and persistence, through your ever clumsy way of doing things, and by the way man
both enslaves and liberates his own imagination, it is you who proves other people exist.
edit on 13-1-2015 by LesMisanthrope because: "Write
drunk; edit sober" - Hemmingway