Friday, March 28, 2008

Mental Shifts – Interlude: Masked Moon Rising

Are philosophy and fiction writing conflicting interests? I am interested in pursuing philosophical truths, reaching for accurate theoretical models and glimpses of absolute truth. With fiction writing, I occasionally have to blink myself awake and remember that the individuals and their concerns I'm dealing with are not real people, that none of their existence is real, yet I can immerse myself it it to the point of forgetting.

Getting lost in a manufactured world ... striving for true understanding beyond illusion; It is a careful mix to be had. In fiction it is easy to create statements about reality that have little truth value outside the made-up world of the book. Well crafted books present themselves as identical to our human reality. Fiction can indeed illustrate truth, but a model of untruth can be indistinguishable. Well made stories play on human emotions so well that their truth message can be internalized before any analysis of its accuracy can be done, and many people seem disinclined to analyze what they consume as entertainment. Analysis generally disrupts that entertainment.

This issue makes it easy to see why Plato's writings are so critical and suspicious toward fiction. It's moral value is problematic, in practice easily promoting vice.

I have only my inclinations to speak from, and as I have stated, they are divided. Even so, I do not think fiction should be rejected in pursuit of a firm understanding of truth. An individual should practice judiciousness in selecting fiction that will be beneficial, and those who create fiction should do so honestly striving to write truth. In saying this, I'm really only speaking to myself, since there are many conflicting reasons people write, and my 'ought to' doesn't go very far against them.
I wonder about the dynamics of my making statements, which are my synthesized conclusions put down and shared as somewhat inaccurate text. My personal experience is the source of what I say, but life experience is quite unique, and despite being almost impossible to communicate, it's somehow general enough that people can relate. My experience of returning to this university, going to buy books, urban driving, listening to non-mainstream indie music on the radio, constant rain and snow today, sitting in my condo typing and looking out at the raindrops landing in the puddle on my deck: That's a few of my current environmental influences, but you can only think of them by remembering similar memories of yours. It's not the same. My understanding of the dichotomy between philosophy and fiction isn't the same as yours, but that doesn't matter, because our understanding of the English language and cultural background is similar enough that people reading this are likely to understand what is written here even if they do not write fiction and have not read Plato. The meaning is attained by a shared understanding of language. The language itself is only important in that we have a sufficiently similar definition for the word 'beneficial', and that our understanding of grammar is the same.

Since the particular language could be a different one and this bit of writing would still work between members of that culture, this sort of explanation puts the power of meaning onto the string of signified elements that the words represent. Reading and processing those symbolic textural units builds a concept in your mind similar to the one I intended to write.

What's the point of all this? I do not know. I'm just talking about the recent thoughts I experienced concerning fiction and philosophy, and then used that in a nebulous bit of textual analysis theory. Almost everything I stated was based off of what I learned or had to read for the literary critical theories class last quarter. But why am I writing? Somehow it seems important to talk about what I think. But writing about why I'm writing and about what I'm thinking is confusing. It leads to my current college malady of seeing everything as symbols and then connecting those to each other and everything else. Its a mind crushing mess, but fortunately I can always choose to stop writing. Also, I got Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit from the school library to watch as soon as I'm done writing this.

Grady Houger ~ done!

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