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 Loser's Guide to Life

Friday, January 20, 2006

Will That be Smoking or Non-Fiction? 

I used to get impatient whenever I saw some booklist with the division "fiction/non-fiction". Actually, all booklists or bookchat bilge-o-ramas run to that, so I was pretty much always steamed. Now that I am grown up, it no longer bothers me because there are so many other things for me to sneer at, so here is an idle synopsis of the nub of my gist:

If you think about it, there is no real distinction between fiction and non-fiction. Works of huge, unfathomable and sociopathic lying are customarily filed under "Non-fiction", but my cat and her friends can tell you that there is some fiction going on even there. "Fiction" doesn't mean "storyfying", it means "shaping an image of something". The word comes from fingo, fingere, which meant "to make out of clay". Its root is related to Greek teikhos, via the archaic *theikhos. I could go on. However, people might object, saying, Oh yeah? What about a bald record of facts? That's no fiction.

But no. Facts are like clay. You have to shape them into something before you can write non-fiction.

I think we're all better off watching cartoons.


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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.