Monday, October 4, 2010
Pierre Salinger once explained that he liked writing fiction because it was the only time he could tell the truth. This from the press secretary for JFK is a reminder to all of us that we had best not believe anything we read, much less anything we see. It was ever thus but mind control has become a state of the art signature skill amongst the most improbable people not to mention the obvious scoundrels many of whom I've worked for from time to time. Like the laugh track on a dreadfully unfunny sit-com, the six o'clock news is meant to give viewers the idea that what they just saw is one thing and not some other thing entirely. I must say, they are pretty good at it. Just ask anyone what happened today and they'll tell you what they heard on the news. It doesn't get any better than that, I can tell you.
There is a trick to writing fiction that must pass for truth. To begin with, and strangely enough, it must not be too believable. There must be inexplicable inconsistencies that defy logic and will stimulate vitriolic arguments about its veracity. This is in accordance with the rule of divide and conquer--one nullifies those elements that might otherwise unite to rise up against you and upset your game--and, additionally, is a nod to the fact that most human souls dislike confrontation, finding it ugly, and will shy away from the subject simply to avoid unpleasantness. Understanding the foregoing, one can sell anything for truth and not an hour goes by that such sales aren't consummated on a wholesale basis at market prices.
All this comes to mind because I have been asked to write a legend/true story of what happened to someone. It is not your typical 'based on a true story' which is industry speak for 'fiction' and is always accepted as nothing but lies. No, I've been asked to create truth and that means I have to start an argument--the bigger the better. I'm just not sure I feel like it. I'd much rather go downstairs and share some convivial conversation and a Bruichladdich with whomsoever I find in the bar.
What to do?