Sunday, March 29, 2015
Notes for a commonplace book (13)
Charles Shirō Inouye:
"The fixed point of view of the realistic painter finds its analogue in the omniscient perspective of the authoritative author. More than merely a scribbler, the modern novelist tells true stories from a privileged point of view, and from a similarly fixed point in time (usually the present as explained by the past). An author’s claims to truthfulness rest largely on such a consistent, objective point of view, as if that view were an integral, ordering part of the reproducible world that flows from it. Its very stability generates robustness as a true and principled source of truth; and its generality produces realism’s utility as a nondistorting understanding of reality that allows us to describe the world as similarly recognizable and understandable to everyone…
"Such a perspectival system includes both the objectively true exterior (realism) and the subjectively true interior (psychology) because everything, including the invisible realm, must be accounted for… In the modern period, history becomes the acceptable and plausible truth, while fiction, with its ability to delve impossibly into the emotions and thoughts of people, becomes the acceptable and plausible lie (or the imagined that is nevertheless true).
"In other words, realistic truth makes fiction necessary… Fiction derives compellingly from a central contradiction of modernity … that only by surrendering oneself to a rational and atomizing system does one gain individual identity and the ability to think and act for (and by) oneself. Paradoxically, in order to be an individuated member of such a society, we must assume a point of view that everyone shares; thus, the fundamental irony implied in the notion of subjectivity, where the subject is supposedly both a follower (a loyal subject) and an acting agent (someone with subjectivity or the will to act independently) and where the status of subjectivity is, on the one hand, praised as being emotionally true and, on the other, degraded as a lack of (objective) truth. The modern novel attempts to make sense of this paradox — this surrendering as empowerment — by raising the possibility of a true subjectivity, that is, fiction, within a larger context of objective truth."
From an essay on Izumi Kyōka's "A Quiet Obsession," from In Light of Shadows: More Gothic Tales by Izumi Kyōka, University of Hawai'i Press.