Truth and its Consequences

article posted Feb 17, 08:26

It’s an old debate, no doubt about it, and a recent scuffle can be found in this article about the disagreements between an author and a fact checker.

What I find particularly pertinent is the opposition postulated between “happening truth” and “story truth” which is, of course, the crux of the debate. And an important thing. But, in this case, it comes off as a straw man in many ways. As does the tossing around of the defence of art.

What I suspect many folks are objecting to is not the right to fudge the facts in the pursuit of a good story, not the creation of a well-made textual object, not “art” at all, but the claim that you can do so and still call the thing “non-fiction” in any meaningful way. One is, after all, making a contract with the reader when one makes claims about a work outside the work itself. And the reader is at least half of the partnership that goes into making literature. Furthermore, I don’t think there’d be any fuss at all if one called a made-up, fudged or otherwise ambiguous story “fiction.”

So why insist on its “reality status” if that’s not what you’re concerned with? If what matters to you is “story truth”....

Now that’s an interesting question.