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My thoughts.

  1. Fiction, the literary genre, is suffering in America because it is an art and we do not support the arts and almost all contemporary American fiction is shit.  It really is.  It is crap.  This is not the case elsewhere.  But fiction writing requires a great deal of discipline and talent.  We encourage niether.  I don't think you'll see many people calling Dickens or Shakespeare shit.  It's contemporary American fiction that sucks.

  2. There is also an aesthetic trend toward blurring the line between fact and fiction.  This got a head start abroad, and some cultures still don't put too much value on the distinction.  While Capote certainly had much to do with the blurring of genres, I'd also credit the gonzo journalism and beat movements.  Though even Mark Twain and Dostoyevsky blurred the line back in the day...  But America has always championed black & white clear cut genres.  It is either fact or a lie.  Well, it is just now dawning on people that reality is full of white lies and art is full of incidental truths and pushing the envelope, a la Frey, is the "it" thing to do.  It is a marketing tool.  This too shall pass.  

  3. You'll find that back in the day when I was asking for someone to recommend a book to help me understand our current crisis, I requested philosphy and literature.  As a film student, with a concentration in Russian at that, I've never been too gung ho on fact v fiction in the lit genres, as it is abundantly clear that all creative self expression (as writing always is) is inherently subjective and promotes an agenda, good or bad.  So the idea that we can only learn from non fiction is bunk as even non fiction is not entirely objective, in the way that say, double blind scientific experimentation might be.

  4. And that's the crux of the matter.  I won't sit here and tell you we have nothing to learn from religion, that some religious teachings do not contain some truths, or perhaps keen insights is a better phrase, into the human condition.  Not at all.  Nor should we ignore religion.  Just because something is harmfull doesn't make it unworthy of investigation or unable to teach us about ourselves.  

I think all genres are equally valid, fiction or non-fiction.  Both have their merits.  Both can be badly written.  The thing is, when something claiming to be fiction is full of lies, its just badly written.  When something claiming to be non-fiction is full of lies, it is deceitful.  Whether it is written by Ann Coulter or God Almighty.  Also, if your little book is so full of truths, they should stand on their own even if I read every other book in the Universe and judge them all by the same standards I judge yours.  People who live according to one book only are doing much worse than favoring fiction over fact.  They are denying the rest of us the possibility of living with well informed citizens.

And like I said, I'm not aware of any genocides done in the name of aesthetic tastes...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Aug 8th, 2006 at 09:51:12 PM EST

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