Nov 20, 2007, 9:57 AM |

Even What We Know To Be True . . . Isn't

The past is inaccurate, because we cannot determine how it was in fact, no matter how hard we try. We must rely on people's memory, which is treacherous, because memory is constantly juggling and revising the data of experience. Even when people say they were present when something happened, one cannot trust them, but usually they simply repeat as a fact what they heard from other people. In telling about an event, we ourselves cannot avoid revising it, because our narrative simplifies and composes a whole out of selected components, while omitting others. It suffices to compare our knowledge of facts with their depiction in chronicles, journalistic accounts, memoirs, to understand the need for fantasizing that is somehow inscribed in the language itself, and which draws us into the forest of fiction. -Milosz