Original article posted by ravenpaine:
Just a quick reminder -Read Part 1-
This section will involve three major topics, Nonfiction as literature, the difference between truth and fact, and whiney-snivelly-childish-college students who cannot get out of the name calling stage. (And, incase you have not realized that ‘irony’ is more misused then tax revenue, the thing I just said about name calling? That would be referred to as ‘hypocrisy.’ Just so you are on the proper page.)
First, Non-fiction, is it fact? a SixMileVillage expose in one sentence.
No, you total frelling moron.
Rita Berman, a writer and teacher of non-fiction (over 400 features), states in the 2001 Writer’s Handbook “the article remains nonfiction because the content is based on fact and is not created or made up, but you have more freedom in the actual wrtiing of it. That calls for embellishing and enhancing, narrating instaed of reporting.”
Which gives me some very useful peices of information to lob at you cheese-brained fools out there.
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Yes, nonfiction can be considered literature, in the case of creative nonfiction because what begins as a set of facts is ’embellished and enhanced” to better tell the story, therefore the essay or feature or article or whatever you call your nonfiction text is not a statement of fact, very few creative nonfiction writers will tell you that it is.
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The answer to this question is quite simple. No. Being based on fact does not mean that a text cannot be literature, but it does mean that it cannot be taken as pure, simple, unadultared fact. Because it is not!
Which brings us to our second topic: the difference between truth and fact.
Now, if we were foolish and attempted to use a dictionary to define our terms we would immediately run into the following problem:
1. Conformity to fact or actuality.
2c. Something believed to be true or real.
Dammit! Some crazy expert of the dictionary craft used fact as part of the definition of truth and truth as part of the definition of fact! Fortunately we know that these words cannot mean the same thing or even each other, otherwise we wouldn’t need both words. We therefore assume that the nuances of the full text of their definition must have something to do with their actual (true? factual? real?) meaning.
But I dont’ quote from the dictionary unless I’m being vindictive so we will simply have to work with the portions of definition that we have already been given.
Truth amuses me as a definition because of the first word in the defintion, conformity. Truth is apparently an agreed upon quantity. Unless you too submit to that which is true then their can be no truth. I’m rather certain Plato would disagree, but hey who is Plato to argue with dictionary experts.
Fact is even better, the middle section of the definition relies upon the infinately debatable principal of belief. Belief? For something to be a fact it has to be believed? Where the hell did the dictionary people come up with this? I’m reminded of what Fry said in an episode of Futurama “Everybody knows that aligators live in the sewers, it’s a widely believed fact.” When I first heard this line I just kept on a laughing, a widely believed fact how preposterous. Little did I suspect that he was actually alluding to the defintion of fact.
So, I say, in a properly surly British fashion, Piss off! to the dictionary people and their definitions and instead I will define my own terms right here right now, so that everybody knows what it is that I’m talking about. So don’t bother trying to point out how wrong I am by telling me what you defintion of these words are, I’ve already gone through the necessary steps of removing the part of me that gives a damn that you cannot handle the simple process of defining your terms.
Truth: Comes in two varieties, lower case truth is an intangible quantity that is personally defined by each person who approaches it. It is subjective and ever changing as perspective and personality take from it what they will and what they can. Capital Truth is the unatainable pure essence of an ideal. It is what is absolutely for certain if an omnipotent, omniscient being were about answering questions because IT had created everything and therfore had the last word on everything as well. It is generally understood that Truth is not something any of us are going to get to, but that does not mean that we should stop trying, hell stiving is as imporant succeeding. The other form, truth, can be found wherever you may want it to be, as long as you can defend it, the moment you cannot defend it it becomes a lie.
Simply put I prefer the addage: History is written by the observor, propaganda is written by the winner.
Fact: Facts are things that happened. They may happen in a vacuum they may happen in the middle of a large crowd they may occur anywhere and anywhen but they are things that occur. Facts must be observable though some means, no matter what that means may be. Facts are things that happen, they are things that ARE as a student of Zen would tell you. Though many different opinions can exist about a fact, the real point is that their is an agreement that something happened or exists otherwise what would people be disagreeing about?
So there, if you would like to look up further infomration on the subject I can suggest a trio of books that will assist in your learning.
Bok, Sissela. Lying: Moral Choice in public and Private Life. New York: Vintage Books, 1999.
Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. Truth: A History and Guide for the Perplexed. New York: St Martins, 1997.
Walters, Stan B. The Truth about Lying: How to Spot a LIe and Protect Yourself from Deception. Naperville: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2000.
Finally I will take a moment to mention that thing about the name calling and the childishness out of people who are in a 300 level class at a University.
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I do firmly believe that in this supposed “adult world,” which you are obviously a member of and those of us who continue to fight for what we believe to be an important and crucial concept are not, people will continue to make damning comprimises that lower the quality of life for all people and take the entirety of human history one step closer to the ultimate mediocrity that it craves so much.
Need I point out that you used the wrong ‘too’ at the end of your statement? Or that even if you had used the correct to you would be ending with an indicitave statement with no object? “To do so,” would have been more appropriate but I suppose in the ‘adult world’ you don’t pay attention to that sort of thing.
I ask you, if you thought for a moment what effect this statement would have? Did you?
Did you really?
I doubt it, I doubt that you gave any practical thought to the effect your words would have, half-assed as they were.
Me, I think of the effects that my words will cause, but I find that somethings are worth fighting for and believing in and doing something about.
This is not a debate about what should or should not be considered literature. It certainly should be, that was supposedly how it started after all, but that has not been what this argument has been about since Rowsdower’s first post.
This is about standards and MATTERS OF PRINCIPLE, which I have a track record for being harmed over. But as Rorschach said in Alan Moore’s The Watchmen “Never comprimise, not even in this.”
But that is all the time we have for the moment campers. Tune in to the conclusion of this trilogy for my major arguement on people who refuse to stand for something in Times Like These… 3: Awkward Silence.
Braintrust for Humanity