Truth, More or Less

First Posted 19-May-2015

First, a couple quotes from my days with a sore ass in a melamine chair at college:

Chaucer, at the start of The Wife of Bath’s Tale, “In the old days of King Arthur, of whom Britons speak great glory, this land was entirely filled with fairy power. The elf-queen danced often with her merry company in many green meadows. This long ago was the belief, as I find in books. I speak of many hundred years ago; but in our times no man can see elves any more.

For now the great charity and the prayers of begging friars and other holy friars, who, as thick as motes in a sunbeam, reach every land and every stream, blessing halls, chambers, kitchens, bowers, cities, towns, castles, villages, barns, stables, dairies–all this causes there to be no elves. For where a fairy was accustomed to walk, there the begging friar himself walks now, in the mornings or the afternoons, and says his matins and his holy things as he goes along in his begging. Women may go up and down safely; in every bush or under every tree, there is no incubus, except him, and he will do nothing but dishonor them.”

And . . . Ovid’s Metamorphisis, “The poet’s fruitful freedom knows no bounds and takes no oath to tell it as it happened.”

I reread this sitting in my living room with my laptop. “Orange is the New Black” is streaming for me on the TV I bought last Christmas. At this point in the narrative the prison staff has decided that the solution is to escalate the enforcement of every letter of every regulation. Which triggered this thought: that brutal dictators lose the game once the populace gets jaded. I guess when I wrote this I was feeling the words of some of my friends and family who were annoyed at my cavalier attitude toward the truth.

As I reread it I am not sure it should be reposted. I need to trust myself, trust God, trust you, dear reader. Even here, at this house of trolls, there will be those who I piss off, who don’t get it. I can’t help that. I can totally identify with the idea that them that don’t get it, well . . . fuck ’em. Part of my own sense of truth, of ethics, is that I need to respect these posts. I had a prompt, a trigger, that drove me to write what I wrote the first time. I may be further down the road since then and perhaps changed. But for this thing to have at least a shred of integrity I need to respect the truth as I felt it then.

My truth is of the absurd. It is behind the looking glass with Alice. It is with Ovid. It is fulfilled with fayeres. It is abstract and poetic. It is metaphorical and perhaps, a bit mystical. I’ve met a few, men, mostly, who get annoyed with me because I am so obtuse, they say. I don’t make sense, I’m not honest (enough). No, I’m not honest. I keep feeling an uncomfortable need to defend my choice to say I lie in this space. I’m after a different sort of truth from that of a usual prose writer. I’m after the way we narrate our lives and the relationship between that narrative and our behavior.

What I get from the above piece of Chaucer’s, “Wife of Bath’s Tale” is that before the church took prominence truth was the realm of the fairy queen and her elves. Fairies and elves are creatures of folk lore. They tell truths of our emotional and mythological lives. It is Alice’s world behind the looking glass. Now, with the church, with the Holy Friars in dominance, truth takes on a new meaning. Truth is what the church says it is. Truth is what the Pope says it is. Get used to it.

This space belongs to the Fairy Queen. It is where I talk about my read on the myths and allegorical tales we tell. Next, I am Presbyterian. I am a post-reformation Christian. We challenged the truth told by the church starting with Martin Luther in the 16th century. I guess I am more post-modernist in that I find myself more comfortable with the physics of string theory than I do with the intransigent orthodoxy of modern science up until the 20th century. Think about it. The stories we tell about ourselves have changed. The Greek tragedies repeatedly tell of a fate predestined by Oracles that is fought against by the characters in the play but ultimately, impossible to prevent. It was clear who it was that would die by the end of the play. You knew who the white & black hats were.

Hollywood has been in a fatalistic mood for a decade or so. They tend to make movies about heroes and villains that are morally ambiguous. I saw “Avengers, Age of Ultron” last night with friends. The villain wanted peace in our time. His method was Apocalypse. Destroy humanity and start over. The hero wanted peace in our time as well. His method was dominion over humanity through the creation of an Empire ruled by artificially intelligent androids. These droids would be ruled by a single AI named Jarvis. So, oppressive, Imperial rule or annihilation, choose. The writers of this movie chose Tony Stark and Jarvis.

I write about story, I say what I say here because our bullshit communicates truth about who we are. “Hi, my name is Che,” and the one uttering has a red star on her cap. Already, an image forms about the woman who said that. The blonde, kinky hair, walnut toned skin, camo tank top, fatigue pants and Birkenstocks add to it. “I work at a collective that sells Organically grown sheep’s milk cheese.” The writer’s craft. The more I say about Che the more the story grows in your head. Che becomes real to you.

We all do it. We all have our narratives that we put out there about ourselves. That’s my turf. That’s were I want to write, to talk, to agitate for change. Now, global Apocalypse is a genre in fiction. Most of the stories have survivors. Given a choice I’ll take my chances surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Last, in the beginning was the word. The word was with God and the word was God. [John 1:1 ESV]. The Bible is the Word of God. How much debate over the truth of that can there be? A lot. We have been debating and commenting on God’s Word since well before Christ. We still argue about it. So, forgive me, but it makes a lot more sense to me to say that truth isn’t as concrete as many would like it to be. Maybe it’s counter-intuitive, but beginning with the stipulation that this space lies feels more honest than stipulating that it does not and is later outed. Absurd? Probably. Works for me. You read this far, so it’s clicking with you as well. Thank you for reading.