- Everything we believe is fictional. This does not mean that (some of it) is not also “true” but it means that any belief or system of meaning is true in the same way that The Brothers Karamazov, or the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, or the Bible are true. All truths are fictions — which is not the same thing as saying all truths are insignificant (to me), or all truths of equal value (to me).
- By saying that all truths are fictions, I mean that we all actively participate in the construction of anything we take to be true. We choose what we will believe as true and what we will believe is false. We choose what we will value and what we will disparage. We choose what is good and what is evil. We choose how we will construct our understanding of our own selves and of others (“nobody knows who I really am…” more on that in a moment). We participate not only in the embodiment of our truths (which is what makes them significant), but also in their creation. Each one of us, recreates the world anew every morning. For there is no “world” apart from the one we choose to create when we awaken.
- However, because all of us do this, and because all of us do this in different ways, some will say one thing is true, others will say the opposite is true, and some will propose mediating positions or speak entirely different languages.
- Because this has been going on since we first created the world, we inherit many of the truth-full fictions of others. Some are more susceptible to accepting these than others. Some will take these truth-full fictions to be “absolute truths” and others will take them to be “objective descriptions” of the “real world”. So it goes. Many seem to find it scary to think that “reality” (one of the oldest truth-full fictions ever created and pass on) may be nothing more (nor less!) than a fiction, or an ideological construct… I’m not sure why… so people prefer to hold on to what they receive and find ways to assert that their truth-full fictions are the Truth.
- Perhaps an illustration of this would be useful. Let us take myself — who I am — as our object of study. You could ask many people who I am (who I really am) and you would receive a host of different answers. Some would blatantly contradict each other. In the story each person is telling him- or herself about the world, I would be interpreted as very different characters, and in the story I am telling myself about the world, I play another kind of character than many of those other descriptions of me and my role. Of course, it is at this point that many people give priority to the story that they tell themselves about themselves, but why should we think that our story about our selves is any better or more accurate than the story others tell about us? Maybe you know yourself better than others because you know a lot of what you think and do that others don’t know… but maybe you’re far too close to yourself, and far too personally involved with yourself, to have any more of an accurate read of yourself than any other person. Or maybe, and this is what makes the most sense to me these days, I am all of the people I am taken to be by myself and others. Of course, because those people are often the polar opposite of each other, I cannot simply be some compilation of all those people — there is no core, single true, single real, me. I am a multitude. I am Legion.
- Of course, this conclusion is no more and no less fictional and truth-full than any other conclusion. It is simply the one that is the most compelling (to me).