When Power of Story IS the Story

28 10 2006

Now the election story is that we’re voting on which character issues lying behind each candidate’s fictional characters, betray more flaws in their real-life plotlines?

I spent my own two cents prematurely, I guess:

“Telling” stories – when does fiction betray lack of character?

Catholic leaders claim (Dan Brown’s novel) “The Da Vinci Code” is manipulation of belief, fraud for profit, harmful lies we must warn the world to reject. Now comes the titillating and, one supposes, quite predictable reverse play, the crowning glory of the news and belief cycle (whoops, not to be redundant!) — historical Christianity itself challenged as fraud, with the courts as the objective Standard of Truth.

It’s being called “abuse of popular belief” by the plaintiff. . .
I think it’s time we add it to our mandatory graduation standards — if we can find anyone qualified to teach the course.

If midterm races do come down to exasperated voters weighing degrees of brazen fiction as clues to character, which party has the electoral edge?

As NYT’s Frank Rich wrote in a January 22 column headlined, ” Truthiness 101″:
“It says everything about the Democrats’ ineptitude that when they spin fiction, they are incapable of meeting even the low threshold of truthiness needed to make it fly in this lax cultural environment.
The Republicans would never have been so sloppy. Indeed, hardly had Mr. Kennedy’s melodramatic stunt blown up in his face than they came up with a new story line . . .
(from) a PR outfit called Creative Response Concepts . . .”

Meanwhile, Kennedy gave this speech:
“Instead of a free and honest exchange of ideas, our hearings have become stylized and choreographed appearances in which nominees are coached to say as little as possible. When it comes to lifetime appointments to the highest court in the land, surely the American people deserve better. . .”

UPDATE to “choreographed appearances” and candidates “coached to say as little as possible” about their personal truths and fictions. One needn’t evoke Clinton to bring Dem fictions into this free-for-all, just stick with Ted Kennedy. This still-polarizing fiction needs no comment.

We struggle so hard to judge the relative currency of every politician’s truthiness, contradictions and abuse of our belief. If the American people DO deserve better but never get it from politicians, I’m thinking we can just write some better stories for ourselves?



3 responses

28 10 2006
Scott W. Somerville

Having written one novel, I believe a novelist cannot create a character that is “bigger than himself” (or herself). I wouldn’t want to judge a novel on its villains (although my own rule in writing is to base my villains on the darkest secrets of my own soul), but I think you can judge a novelist by his heroes. What is the “highest and best” he aspires to when he gets the chance to create his own universe? He isn’t likely to reach much higher if he gets elected to Congress.

28 10 2006

Never thought of it this way, that one can’t create a character bigger than oneself. My first reaction is that I hope my children are! (better than I am) — but I think I know what you mean, sort of we can’t know what we don’t know. So we can’t write what we don’t know?

OTOH, ny mentor was famous for saying he’d rather be judged by the character of his enemies than of his friends. Does that idea fit into this anywhere?

29 10 2006
Is Your Candidate “Human?” « Cocking A Snook!

[…] A political test to rival comparing the fictional characters candidates create as novelists . . . […]

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