A room. A fire. A bed. Desire.

An open window. Rain falls.

A thought experiment mirroring Alice’s descent.

Truth, true, real, reality, actual, actuality, fact, factual, honest, honesty, genuine, objective.

Fall with me. Seek their definitions, each referencing the other. Follow them down the rabbit hole of meaning. Land in the soft dirt of our not knowing.

The soil in which meaning mutates into a mere house of cards. A house collapsing under the weight of subjectivity, solipsism, the search for shared truths.

The definitions dependent on each other, slippery connections collapse beneath the slightest breeze. Lost soldiers in a culture war, weaving and stumbling through degrees of separation and alienation, painting flowers, bending backward for despots’ games until, defeated, they hide in flowerpots from the rain.

Hide here as the rain falls and refuse to be denied.

Refuse the fallacy of the desire for objective truth. Refuse the futility of waging a war with such poor soldiers. A war fought without the sincerity which tumbles from such lying lips as ours.

Retreat. Sidestep her descent. Embrace this other fall.

And we do.

We fall in the half-light. Toward the other as the rain blows sideways and I say,

Defenestrate the dictionary, shut the window, and lie to me, love.

* * * * * * *

That sodden dictionary lying on the pavement presents “fiction” as the antonym of “truth.” Yet greater honesty lies in truths which resonate beyond the Sisyphean act of artistic intent.

Poetry, the interplay of form and content. The resonant meaning not on the page, not within the words but their interactions. Words as lovers, not two-dimensional paper soldiers. Vibrations of meaning echo through the years when emotion’s made tangible, word made flesh. The poet will not be denied, forcing the rhythms, the rise and fall of the sincerest lies, between anonymous readers’ legs.

Fiction, free to arrive at the truths of the characters and writer. The genre of intuition. Emotion uncovered. Mythic truths never fully constrained by the reader’s inhibitions.

Both, imperfect. No poem or novel attains a Platonic form. But in all art, the witness bears some of the burden of the impossibility of  true understanding.

Nonfiction, weak in its formlessness and poverty of expression. Relying on a collective consensus about the meaning of words, aided only by the poor monsters of logic and rational thought.

Unadulterated nonfiction, both punishment and crime. The weight of truth pressing down on a structure constructed of inferior materials, crafted not by the writer but the collective hive mind.

I believe that the dictionary is wrong.

* * * * * * *

These pages contain lies despite the utter sincerity of my intent. I’m an indifferent poet. And my fiction is a separate endeavor. But here nonfiction lies.

Nonfiction crafted by a woman who struggles to keep her journal in the first person as competing narrators refuse to be denied. Who has a bad habit of weaving fiction throughout her waking life.

“Reality is that which when you stop believing in it won’t go away.”

If Philip K. Dick was correct, fiction is less irreal than any attempt at a factual narrative. Both are words on pages, expressions of belief, experiences trapped in amber.

Yet fiction is fixed. The story world unchanged each time the reader returns. The reader may change, but the world of the story is forever the same.

Nonfiction exists in a material world of competing narratives. Whatever sincerity of belief one brings to the page, she cannot control the hand she’s dealt and her words may one day concede defeat, hiding in flowerpots.

More so when she possesses certain weaknesses. When she struggles to remain rooted in time and space as others do in the ordinary course of things.

And so whether you believe fiction to be lies or feel the same frustration with the dictionary’s sodden objectivity, on these pages you will find lies. But also maybe truth, too.

Love,

nerd girl

p.s. As the rain falls and the fire burns, they find each other, lost in the slow exploration of more tangible truths. Lips part, his hand in her hair,  the honesty of desire. Water droplets on cold glass, the fire consuming itself as she lingers in the half-light, suspended in this moment. Yet she will not be denied and will not deny the rhythm they find as the rain falls and the fire dies, the material world falling away.

16 Replies to “Paper Soldiers”

      • “As the rain falls and the fire burns, they find each other, lost in the slow exploration of more tangible truths. Lips part, his hand in her hair, the honesty of desire. Water droplets on cold glass, the fire consuming itself as she lingers in the half-light, suspended in this moment. Yet she will not be denied and will not deny the rhythm they find as the rain falls and the fire dies, the material world falling away.” Beautiful. And reminds me of this: “The word is a flame burning in a dark glass.” But … the writing of it is never a lie, and we exhaust ourselves on that hill, over and over again, for there is no middle ground. Not in this pursuit. Not in this lifetime. Truth only, be it real or imagined, “for I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of
        the imagination.” So said a certain Mr. Keats, in giving that hill a name.

        • The writing of [fiction?] is *never* a lie? I want to argue, particularly in the case of writers who set out to lie, who come to it cynically, but… I see the edge of that thought experiment, the mindfuck of it where we get into the territory of how observation changes a thing (or in this case makes it so).

          But if I concede the truth of all imagination, mustn’t I also agree there’s no middle ground? Logic seems to say, yes. But experience screams that this isn’t correct. Because as I write (or read what I wrote), I can intuitively feel how close to the truth I am. And to a lesser extent, I feel this too as a reader, how close to the thing the writer has gotten. So if this feeling isn’t an indication of the degree of falsity because truth’s binary, then what is it I’m sensing? What’s the thing?

          And here I slink away from this comment thread thoroughly mindfucked by you, sir, and your arsenal of Keats and Watson. Freaking literary gangbang.

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