Day 52

5.02: Faulkner said, “the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism — and the best journalists have always known this.”

By day, I’m a journalist (of a sort; it’s probably best not dwelt on), and my experience is Faulkner’s maxim’s pretty-much impossible to apply, unless you’re Hunter S Thompson. And even Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, reckons the Las Vegas Review Journal, has a greater acquaintance with fact than is generally imagined.

But Thompon’s an exception, and so it appears, is the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, once named the twentieth century’s greatest journalist.

Kapuscinski, apparently held to Faulkner’s idea of truth. His embellishments seem to range from claiming to have held a ringside seat at a Mexican massacre, when he wasn’t there, to riffing on the idea that Ugandan fish got fat from feasting on the corpses of Idi Amin’s victims.

He “invented images to suit his story, departing from reality in the interests of a superior aesthetic truth,” reckons the Guardian.

Well my imagination’s caught, and the day job’s going to look a lot different from this morning. Who can think of some more good metaphor for what makes the wealthy fat? Peasant tatin? Wasted Sundays sloshing about in the hot-tub of their own lard-arsed self-worth? Croquettes of the vulnerable? Surely I couldn’t be sacked as long as I stuck doggedly to the aesthetic truth.

6.55: Well that’ll teach me to begin the morning by meditating on the nature of truth: suddenly the whole thing’s riddled with logical problems and mistakes of chronology. I allow myself five minutes licking the ice-cream of aesthetic truth, and the pushchair of plausibility’s already careering downhill, bearing the baby of workable story ever more rapidly towards the busy motorway of never-being-read. I need Superman, and his magic lycra pants of redrafting.

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~ by David Thorley on March 3, 2010.

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