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And so it goes with Faulkner

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Brendle wrote a thing on Faulkner, and I wrote another response =] just some little itty bitty words this time, but they’re  here.

Great article as always, M. Brendle.  That last bit at the end there, though, has got me thinking a little bit about the nature of truth. If real writers want to express truth, as you say, then what does it mean when a writer presents truth as a multiplicity – contradictory and inconsistent? There must be no truth in truth! And, carried further, even if some  perspectives on truth align, unless each truth is exactly the same as, inside and out, every other truth, then there must be some critical elements of each individual truth missing from their union.  Truth can never be absolute and truth can never be complete. So what good is truth to anyone?  For Faulkner, I don’t think it was worth too much.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact I consider it a transcendent glory – for is this not, truly, the existentialist credo!

To me, these true views on truth are spelled out most explicitly in that desperate scene from Absalom, Absalom, that pitted Tom in a battle with his half-brother Charles over the latter’s quest to find truth in love.  In an attempt to insist on a defacto victory, Tom relates a conversation that he had during the Civil war with his commanding officer: that it is his very feeling of righteousness that lets him know that a fight is just and noble, ending with the immortal line: “General Lee, I think I know what ‘Truth’ is.” The part of the memory he leaves out, of course, is the General’s response, who utters in utter disgust: “Truth…  dreams… hope… Where did they come from? And where are they headed…? These things… I am going to destroy!”  Moments later, Charles dies. I guess the message is that Real Truth, then, can never exist outside of dying man’s final fantasy.


Written by meowywowy

July 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm