21 December 2006

Hybrids of truth and fiction

Telling the truth about the self, constituting the self as complete subject… it is a fantasy. In spite of the fact that autobiography is impossible, this in no way prevents it from existing.
– Philippe Lejeune, ‘On Autobiography’

We look for meaning in life – to explain life to ourselves. For some of us, that’s not enough. We need to share our experiences, our interpretations of life, with others. We need to speak of our joys, our sorrows and the lessons we’ve learnt, warning others of the pitfalls, passing on personal philosophies as wisdom.

But, are these accurate reflections of our lives? Or, are they pseudo-realities constructed by us to suit our notions of our identities and personalities – i.e. the identities and personalities we wish to present/project to others? And in doing so, do we not create fictional landscapes within which we exist… and, perhaps, even seduce others to join us there?

Autobiographies, memoirs, personal stories and even interviews are such fictional landscapes, simulations of our lives, where truth and fiction co-exist naturally… happily. For, when these landscapes are crafted well, it is impossible to distinguish truth from fiction, fiction from truth.

In such situations, autobiographies, memoirs, personal stories and interviews, all become hybrids of truth and fiction. In them, we are no longer ourselves, but appear as characters like any other.

Of course, the authorship of the narrative still remains with us.

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