Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Of Truth in The Tales

Ask Dorothy, our imaginings can bear fruit, (oh my!) To be here, or to choose not to be there, is the question. So very much is predicated on our choices. (Woody Allen has it that 80% of life is just showing up.) Yes, when we act, we do contact the future. Even the actions of our thoughts, like silken silvered threads, can connect with materializations, so that long-ago friendships can be rekindled, or our more immediate ones we may allow to fragment. Our actions stir. We give energy a form with our constructs. Words matter. Images do too. Concrete words create imagery.

Yes, twixt truths and tales lies a colourful tapestry of one’s past. Yet golden-yellow bricks may but be clunky concrete through our personal chronology. Old decades become specific years; are months; are days; are hours; are right now. (You’d think we need no reminder.) Yet without an ontology, or our suspending disbelief in our meaning-makings, we may become but robotic. We do this. We do that. Our choices can become uni-linear. This is better than that. Honesty is better than lies. Dicotyledonous, we can eschew multidimensionality. We grow more left than right, or is it ‘righter,’ than left? Even then, our accretion may be but horizontal, scarcely vertical. We do not necessarily evolve in our paradigm shifts. Should we not, intentionally, aim at wisdom and insight, we can grow bitter, unloving, cynical, and distrusting. We can close ourselves off to forgiveness, to hope, to love, and to growth. We may just choose: This, which is better than That. No abstractions about it!

Truths and Tales dominate Adam Broadford’s extraordinary past. As the protagonist, the narrator, in his ‘Admission, A Story Born of Africa;’ and in his, ‘Transition, from Africa to Canada,’ he makes constant choices. Truths are necessary; his tales give them meaning. (Yes, Dorothy meets the tin man, lion, and scarecrow. But by twisting at the tale, it can bedevil those who know ‘the real’ Truth.)

Then again, we do like to know the truth. “Did you really kill?” someone asks. And as questions become more intimate, so too do my deflections. After all, a novel is just that: a work of fiction. (Still, I would not set my novel in Paris, or Turkey, having never been to those places.) No, it’s better to write from what one knows. It makes the passages more visceral. It makes experience more real. It makes the story, the tale, more believable. It gives scope and dimension and insight a chance to dance. Yes, novels, we know, are not the truth. One ought best, when reading a novel, (like being absorbed in any theatrical play, or when captivated by a film,) suspend one’s disbelief.

Yes, that one might learn something is not always the goal of entertainment. Catharsis is not so much a paradigm shift of apprehension as much as it is a release from the constancy in our containment of the self. Catharsis, in Plato’s realization of it, can be achieved in the moment of utter and total absorption in the shadows on the wall, such that one momentarily forgets the self.  As such, comedy and tragedy, like the iconic masks of theatre, are indeed yoked. (Indeed, too much of didacticism, of preaching, of persuasion, or even of teaching, can be much off-putting.) 

Yet for me, specifically, I most enjoy something created that engages me more than a temporary sense of relief from the self, (pretty as a perfectly or abstractly painted vase of flowers may be). I prefer stretching into other precepts and percepts, or my yielding into the sense of spiraling on a tangential path, so that the wondering and wandering and time spent with another’s work may leave me, specifically, feeling that my time was well spent. Indeed, to be here, or to choose not to be there, remains the question. And choosing the pathways that are less trod, in deeds, may make all the difference. (Truth be told.) Abstraction, indeed, is among the great treasures of life!