Sunday, October 26, 2008

Musings on Factual Fiction

Musings on Factual Fiction
Fiction is just improved reality.
Everything I know about life I learned from movies. No, that isn’t true… television and rock and roll have also been heavy influences on who I am today. Not to mention numerous books (novels) and several magazines, particularly the New Yorker, have contributed to my mostly Western, post industrial, post romantic, postmodern point of view.
You may wonder why I have not mentioned real people or real life experiences. Reality.
First of all, Reality Isn’t What It Used To Be. (By Walter Truitt) explains all the ways reality has transformed, like some shape-shifter from an episode of The X Files, right under our noses without us grasping what is going on. The paradigm has shifted far enough to unbalance almost everybody. There are instances of confusion in every segment of society.
People are still trying to cling to facts as if they will save them. I don’t blame them. Denial is also a useful psychological tool and has been serving us well since Genesis. Truth is on shaky ground as well. I’ve noticed the way it has been eroding on the shoreline of consciousness year after year. Spin, opinion, multiple points of view, are all taken as equally valid. Everything is a matter of interpretation. Multiple modes of reality bump up against each other on CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, and Fox News. Sometimes the same pictures (footage) appear on several channels at the same time and we sit in our unseen rooms and say,
” Boy, Did you see that! What is this world coming to?”
My friends have started telling me stories from their lives as if they were episodes from a sit -com or a crime show. They are secretly pleased to relate the queer fantastic quality of an actual event in their barely significant lives. They make an effort to squeeze as much wonderment as they can and they want me to confirm their experience as reality, to agree with them so they are reassured that they are not wrong and alone in some opinion that is only important for the time being and will have little or no merit tomorrow.
My friend Uma Anyar showed up unexpectantly while I was writing and said, “You will never believe what has happened. It is so weird!”
I clicked save on my computer and turned away from the screen.
“ What is so weird?”
“You know that story I read at the last writer’s meeting?”
“Angry Ghosts?”
“ Yea, and you remember that the main character steals a tennis shoe from her son’s girl friend in order to create worry, confusion and frustration?”
“I remember that.”
“Well, You are not going to believe this but, the other day I picked up my new shoes at the shoemaker. Those cute Chinese style ones I brought back from Hanoi, in black silk. You liked them.”
“ Yes, I liked them. I would love a pair just like them but in green.”
“Well I had the guy make two pairs one in yellow leather with red piping and the other pair in red leather with yellow piping. Very Cute! And I also had the black pair repaired from where the dog had chewed on the heel.”
“ Ok, so I take both pairs of shoes and I try on each color, red on my right foot and yellow on my left foot. They looked so cool I danced out of the shop and into the car where my husband and Akkiko where waiting for me. I showed the shoes to Akkiko and she said they were cool and then put the bag with the shoes on the seat beside her. “ We dropped her off and drove home. I had to pee real bad so I ran into the house without collecting all my packages from the back seat. My husband didn’t bother to bring them in either.”
“Uma, this is boring get to the punch line before I fall asleep.”
“ Hold on there is more. So the next day I take the basket with the remaining packages from the back of the Taruna and pull out all the stuff from the plastic bags. And I can’t find the yellow right foot shoe or the left red shoe. They are gone. Vanished into thin air!”
“ You can make another pair of each. Or wear them as different colors. That is the sort of thing that you would do.”
“ You are not getting the point. Where did they go? Who would take a pair of mismatched shoes from the back of my car? And more importantly, that is exactly the situation I had written about in my Angry Ghosts story. Only that was fiction and this is real life.”
“What? Do you think Akkiko stole your shoes? She wouldn’t do that!”
“I know. I know. I don’t believe she took them but I am starting to think an angry ghost or a prankster coyote, a naughty spirit in Native American mythology has.”
“ You are not an Indian or Chinese so why would a spirit bother with you and your mismatched shoes?”
“ It’s one explanation. The other is that life imitates art.”
“Oh, that happens on a regular basis only we don’t catch all the occurrences because we are doing something else, like watching TV or DVD or VHS or Listening to I pod downloads while we check out news on the internet.”
“ Still, where did the shoes go? It is a mystery.”
“Maybe it is meant to be one. It is about pondering the possibilities. It is a slap in the face of logic and rationality.”
‘I feel so unsettled. This is the second time some small insignificant object has disappeared almost in front of my eyes.”
“ You have lost mismatched shoes before? “
“No, mismatched socks.”
“Ok, explain.”
‘”One day long ago, when I was seven and watching cartoons on TV in the living room, My mother was washing some laundry in the kitchen sink. She asked me to give her my socks so I would have clean ones for the next day. I pulled off the pink and yellow socks left them by the sink and returned to my cartoons. Five minutes later my mother came in the living room with wet hands and asked for my socks. I told her I already left them by the sink. She said No I didn’t. I said yes I did and ran to the kitchen o point out the socks. They were not where I left them.”
‘ Your dog took them.”
“ We only had a parakeet for a pet”
“They fell behind the sink.”
“How could they? The sink was stuck to the wall. Any way we looked and looked and my mother became angrier as she became frustrated and I got mad because she didn’t believe me. Before you know it a perfectly nice Saturday afternoon became a family battlefield.”
“Did you ever find the socks?”
“ Nope.”
“Did you write about the socks?”
“Not until now.”
“ Ok, so is this writing fact or fiction?”
“Fact! Absolutely Fact!”
“It makes for better fiction.”
“ But it really happened.”
“ So has the story on this page.”

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