Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Necessity of Fiction

I mentioned that I was going to post on Doc Holliday next, but another thought popped into my head in response to a comment left by BW on the previous post. He talks about how fiction can work its way into the reality of our lives. Yesterday I was reading a book on C. S. Lewis that was discussing his connection to G. K. Chesterton. In one of Chesterton's early writings from 1901, he discusses the role of the sort of pop culture off his day versus high literature. Chesterton makes the intriguing statement that "literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity." That thought intrigues me. Fiction, paradoxically, is a necessary force for constructing and dealing with our reality. I'll have more to say on this in the future, but for now wanted to throw that thought out there.


At 3:39 PM, Blogger Bill said...

In the introduction to her splendid little book “Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life” Anne Lamott comments on the importance of creative writers who give us their take on life. She says:

I started writing a lot in high school: journals, impassioned antiwar pieces, parodies of the writers I loved. And I began to notice something important. The other kids always wanted me to tell them stories of what had happened, even—or especially—when they had been there. Parties that got away from us, blowups in the classroom or on the school yard, scenes involving their parents that we had witnessed—I could make the story happen. I could make it vivid and funny, and even exaggerate some of it so that the event became almost mythical, and the people involved seemed larger, and there was a sense of larger significance, of meaning.

I’m sure my father was the person on whom his friends relied to tell their stories, in school and college. I know for sure that he was later, in the town where he was raising his children. He could take major events or small episodes from daily life and shade or exaggerate things in such a way as to capture their shape and substance, capture what life felt like in he society in which he and his friends lived and worked and bred. People looked to him to put into words what was going on.

Given these observations, fiction, it seems to me, is very much a necessity for those who grapple with the sense of and significance of life.

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Sermoniac said...

Fiction is a necessity but it can become dangerous when the audience forgets that it is just fiction.

Case in point: The Dungeons and Dragons crowd.

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Sermoniac: Point well made!

At 7:33 PM, Blogger k2 said...

bw: i second your comment on sermoniac's comment! that has come to bare with the da vinci code hasn't it?


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