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From: "Chris" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Generic Considerations
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 18:32:11 +0000

From Blattid's excellent, intelligent, and well-written post I pick out only 
the part I think I disagree with:

>We get into a cateogry error when we use the concept of "reality"
>in discussing a fictional text -- that is, when we discuss any text
>at the level of fiction. The world of discourse is precisely _not_
>"real" -- though the text which embodies the discourse clearly is a
>"real" text. (But is the discourse, is any discourse, "real?" What
>does it mean to call a discourse "real?")

I would say that this is not to be taken for granted. Philosophically 
speaking the idea that the world is itself a type of text goes back quite a 
ways; if you're a postmodernist, it's almost inescapable. I wish I were at 
home to provide some examples, not because they're needed so much as that 
they're simply beautiful and eloquent. My favorite is from Mallarme, but you 
could as easily use an example from Wolfe himself: Horn, in IGJ (I think) 
has the insight while the Outsider is standing behind him that, to the 
outsider, *everything he called "real" was a kind of story*.

Of course, when Wolfe did that he's doing more than mentioning a 
philosophical or religious outlook, he's also throwing in a 
moebius-strip-of-a-plot-twist. I still have unresolved "issues" as far as 
that whole chapter goes, but that's nothing new.

In any event, what I'm getting at is that you have to be able to treat a 
textual object as "real" *within the bounds of the text*. When you're 
examining the text as it would look from the inside, it seems as proper to 
use the term "real" as it ever can be. Of course, there are other ways of 
looking at texts than this, which we use more often than not (and are 
generally not consciously aware of the transition) - these are more akin to 
metaphysics, and using the word "real" then becomes questionable.

>One difference between fact and truth is that you can alter fact
>at will in creating discursive worlds, and remain in good faith with
>the text and the (hypothetical, hypostesized) reader; if you alter
>truth, you enter into a condition of bad faith with the reader, the
>text, or both.

*Within the realm of the text*, you can't alter facts without altering the 
truth. If you take this thread of conversation and apply it to Silkhorn, who 
is presented as being able to alter other people's stories *and his own*, 
you get a monstrosity of logic that makes me want to stick my head in the 
microwave. The root of the problem, near as I can tell, is that the 
relationship between reader and storyteller is unresolvable.

I probably put that fairly obtusely. But I guess a good leading question to 
ask is: in your opinion, if Silkhorn is in a condition of bad faith with his 
reader/text, does this mean that Wolfe is of necessity in a condition of bad 
faith with his? If you say that it does not then it implies that there are 
different layers of truth, not just fact, involved.

Another fun question, of course, is "how many texts is the Book of the Short 
Sun?" Akin to "How many Torahs are there?"

Too Much Coffee Chris

MSN 8 with e-mail virus protection service: 2 months FREE*  


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