16.3.06

fictio

Probably I’m dealing with a latent scepticism towards fictional structures per se, perhaps towards fiction itself. I overheard myself saying to someone the other day that I don’t like the word novel (Italian, novella: a tale, a piece of news) surprised both at the opinion and the realisation it is actually what I feel. On the other hand, I’m not happy with the term non-fiction either, which seems like a weirdness: not made? And yet surely an artefact too? But the way things have gone in my work, having used up my life, is inexorably towards the writing of fictions; that is, things that are made up, that I know not to be true and, here’s the rub, don’t expect readers to believe either. Well, not totally. The way I’ve done this is by framing inventions within a construction that was, or purported to be, not invented, not made up, non-fiction. In this way, I continued writing in the way I started out—first person, notionally autobiographical, with digressions into matters that had nothing obvious to do with a personal narrative. While also producing strings or streams of language that I liked, that pleased me simply because of their intrinsic qualities or else because of what they said or seemed to say.

The trope whereby an author suggests a fiction is something that really happened is of course very old, much older than Defoe, who is usually identified as the one who made it over in the form most available to us now, the novel. What I’m writing now has a similar set up, but with this difference: it’s a fiction presented as a non-fiction that cannot be true. In other words, a fraudulent memoir, which I thought would be an interesting form to try just now, when such things routinely hit the headlines. So, am I writing something falsely true or truly false? How far do I need to practise fidelity? How detailed, how convincing should it be? Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a hall of mirrors and that’s when I start to doubt: I don't, you might say, know the ontological ground upon which I'm writing. Which is also the actual or notional subject I'm trying to address.

Yesterday when it came to be time to sit down to work, I felt so sick at the transparency of my inventions I simply couldn’t go on. Now, that feeling, if it persists, is the end of a project; so fear was added to nausea and then dread to fear. I went into the City, dérived around looking at a few places I hadn’t looked at for a while or had never properly looked at; spent a few hours in the State Library duplicating, I found out later, notes I already made last year; started planning my trip to Melbourne; practised various other displacement activities (anything not to think about—!); and, today, sat down at the usual time as if nothing had happened. Which, in a way, was true. Went OK I think, but I’m still holding my breath, in case the whole house of cards … tumbles …

2 comments:

~River~ said...

Loved reading this.

Martin Edmond said...

thank you ~River~ . hell to write, or rather, hell to have to be writing ...