According a certain program of truth, that of deductive and quantified physics, Einstein is true in our eyes. But if we believe in the Iliad, it is no less true according to its own mythical program. The same can be said for Alice in Wonderland. For, even if we consider Alice and the plays of Racine as fiction, while we are reading them we believe; we weep at the theater. The world of Alice and its fairytale program is offered to us as a realm as plausible and true as our own—as real in relation to itself, so to speak. We have shifted the sphere of truth, but we are still within the true or its analogy. This is why realism in literature is at once a fake (it is not reality), a useless exertion (the fairy world would seem no less real), and the most extreme sophistication (to fabricate the real with our real: how baroque!). Far from being opposed to the truth, fiction is only its by-product. All we need to do is open the Iliad and we enter into the story, as they say, and
lose our bearings. The only subtlety is that later on we do not believe. There are societies where, once the book is closed, the reader goes on believing; there are others where he does not.
Monday, August 16, 2010
"There are societies where, once the book is closed, the reader goes on believing; there are others where he does not."
--- Paul Veyne, tr. Paula Wissing, Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths? (1983, 1988), p. 22, Ch. 2, "The Plurality and Analogy of True Worlds"