As offered by the many, fiction is any form of narrative which deals, in part or in whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by the author. In contrast to this is non-fiction, grounded exclusively in facts.
A question is begged by the preceding definitions: what is fact? I know, I know; we all have an understanding of this word; but let’s at least take a moment to consider a concept embodied by the statement, the Earth is flat. Several hundred years ago, this was accepted as fact. Now, of course, it has been shown to be false. But was it a fact for the many in those historical times? Yes.
So we see that society can carry the baggage of facts that are not true, which, of course begs the question; what is truth? First, we note that fact and truth are not synonymous. Second, we notice that truth seems to be a measure for the merit of fact. But still, what is truth? Is it relative, absolute or some combination thereof? Now we, like many thinkers throughout history, could spend days and days of introspection and discussions trying to formalize this definition. Let’s not.
For purposes here – and admittedly from a perspective that each of us has amazing, shared capabilities; many of which we are unaware – let’s simply define truth as the barometer of fact; an intrinsic and invariant barometer that we each have. (The proper application of this barometer is wherein lies the seeming variance.) Notice also, our working definition of fact is an instance of accepted dogma… in large part, a construct or conclusion we deem to be pragmatic, if perhaps wrongly so.
Some of you might credibly argue that a fact shown to be false was never a fact. Notice, however, that this is simply semantics; and that the burden is then on you to offer an alternative definition – preferably one that did not include the word truth. (I guess you could lump the two together with a nebulous definition, but to what avail?)
So let’s bring it all together. Results from contemporary quantum physics tend to imply that the observer is integral to the manifestation of what we accept as reality. A consideration of metaphysics arguably leads to similar conclusions. So where do these new ideas coupled with the prior discussion lead us? I guess for me it might be summarized as follows: Nurture your internal truth meter; and be careful in assigning truth to fact.
If you thought the preceding discussion was of interest, you might consider the following quote from Etidorhpa, a book written in 1895 (offered as a factual chronicle, but believed by the many to be a work of fiction).
Men scientific think in language scientific. Men poetical think in language poetic. All educated men use words in thinking of their subjects – words that came to them from the past and enslave their intellect. Thus it is that the novelist cannot snake fiction less real than is fact; that scientists cannot commence at the outside and build a theory back to phenomena understood. In each case, the foundation of a thought is a word that in the very beginning carries to the mind a meaning, a something from the past. Each thought ramification is an offshoot from words that express ideas and govern ideas, yes, create ideas, even dominating the mind. Men speak of ideas when they intend to refer to an image in the mind, but in reality they have no ideas outside of the word sentences they unconsciously reformulate. Define the term idea correctly, and it will be shown that an idea is a sentence; and if a sentence is made of words already created, there can be no new idea, for every word has a fixed meaning. Hence, when men think, they only rearrange words that carry with themselves networks of ideas, and thus play upon their several established meanings. How can men so circumscribed construct a new idea or teach a new science? —Etidorhpa, 1895, Llewyllyn Drury
Here, the author challenges us on several fronts. Can there be such a thing as fiction (thus it is that the novelist cannot snake fiction less real than is fact)? How innovative can we really be when confining ourselves to the pragmatic (Hence, when men think, they only rearrange words that carry with themselves networks of ideas, and thus play upon their several established meanings. How can men so circumscribed construct a new idea or teach a new science)?
The author takes us on a journey to the center of the Earth with a companion that has some quite interesting perspectives and reputed knowledge. Read it for yourselves and feel free to share your thoughts. (The copyright for this book has expired in the U. S. and most places throughout the world – check your country’s copyright laws to make sure.)
I have taken a little time to edit some of the obvious scanning errors in versions found on the internet and present the result here for you. I have also added an off-white background to make reading on the screen a little easier. You can access a pdf version by clicking on the picture above; or at this link: Etidorhpa – Screen Version