Every moment is filled with all these intricate and subtle beauties that, if one were to approach them with the proper wonder, can take your breath away.
Every single moment.
You can’t go through life paying that much attention. You wouldn’t have any breath left.
So we make up stories, special safe places that can hold that extra wonder we’ve excised from our day-to-day lives. In stories, emotions have room to move, old thoughts seem new, and finally the truth can exist un-muted. The fact that it is fiction protects us from the reality that is always waiting for us, pushing on us with its infinite wonder.
It’s like the old (and hopefully retired) question of whether photography can be considered art, since it’s basically reproduction of something that already exists. But it’s not reproduction, it’s re-framing.
Art basically comes down to the application of new lens to an old idea.
Paintings give us another’s eyes, music another’s ears, sculpture another’s hands.
Stories give us another’s mind, another’s world-view, and they help to leak that oppressive wonder in small doses. Perhaps they take our breaths away, but only one breath at a time.
Never so much that we won’t find it again.
This is why I prefer fiction to non-fiction.
Fiction is a solid barrier with perhaps a small, manageable window to everyday wonder inside it. The rest is buried under safe things, things like danger and intrigue; things that need not worry us.
Non-fiction is not a wall but a ledge that overlooks a gigantic and very present world. Perhaps the writer allows you a set of her binoculars to visit it with, but that world is still there, pressing on you. You could exist in it as well, if you’d only jump.
It’s not remotely safe. It’s pure horror.
Non-fiction is an enemy to the boring life a writer of fiction must lead.
We have to choose our wonders carefully, for we are sensitive and easy to overwhelm. Reality is far away and we choose to keep it so. In reality there are more questions than answers, but fiction has rules and purpose.
Behind fiction, we are safe from that oppressive wonder.