Saturday, August 02, 2008

Having abandoned us, fiction dies a bloody death

So emptywheel dissects Chris Bowers' post on the rise of the non-fictional aesthetic among the political left, disagreeing with "his characterization of this aesthetic--non-fiction versus fiction," pointing out that fiction is an arbitrary construct.


If consciousness is defined as one's perception of reality -- and we all know that we can change our perceptions -- then we can change our state of awareness at will. What is fiction if it is defined by one's perception? It's all very fluid. Art -- a fiction and not the thing itself -- imitates the thing itself. Are there not points at which art is become that thing, transcended the divide between the object and the observation of the object?

Which leads me to think of that unnamed member of the administration that said they (the administration and/or the neo-cons) created reality and the rest of us would be left study it. Which side of that equation is fiction?

The change in our collective progressive consciousness over the last eight years has been one of resetting and reframing our perception; we are making conscious decisions as to what has really happened, and we hash them out in many forms. Some of us did so in non-fiction media, some of us did so in fiction (i.e. The Dark Knight, as one more recent pop culture example, or Pan's Labyrinth of a few years ago).

Many of us did so through blogging, trying to sort out truth from non-truth (and finding towards the end of this debacle that are the Bush years that there was little to sort, all swine and no pearls.)

We didn't abandon fiction; in some ways it abandoned us. We couldn't imagine this weird, that such monsters would not only steal elections but take over our government and commit such war crimes. As Hunter S. Thompson said, "When things get weird, the weird turn pro," and we've apparently struggled with maintaining our amateur status, writing tome after tome of non-fiction to retain a grasp on lucidity as reality fully merges with a fiction we couldn't cook up in our worst nightmares.

Perhaps that Chris had to write about this at all is a sign of regret over leaving behind the innocence one must have to appreciate fiction as something separate from nonfiction, innocence broken by the utter collapse of reality in fiction, into seeming insanity, now beyond the immunity from pain that cognitive dissonance once offered us. Fiction not only abandoned us, it got strung out on the meth and crack of neo-conservatism and died a gruesome violent bloody death, and now we are tasked with finding people who can not only help us navigate through these stages of grief and move on, but help us build a safer nonfiction world to follow. Only in a stable, happier, saner nonfiction world can we rebuild even happier fictions, where the nightmarish only happens in our dreams and on the screen and between the covers of books. In this respect, I think Chris is on the money.

(Photo: Falansh [RA] via

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