[ilds] Truth

Richard Pine pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com
Thu Oct 6 13:41:20 PDT 2016

Let's stick with Trump. maybe, as President, he will follow Sarkozy's lead
and be photographed allegedly reading the Alexandria Quartet. If so, his
minders will have scored a major p r triumph and told one of the biggest
lies of his career. It is a fact (let's not call it a 'truth') that Trump
is within an ass's roar of the White House, even though he is a liar, a
cheat, a racist, a philanderer, a sexist, a draft-dodger, and an
appallingly bad businessman. Trump is a success because, altho he himself
is a fiction, people believe him: he is capitalising on  Kurt Schumacher’s
1932 observation, that the best way to appeal to people’s anger is
“ceaselessly mobilising human stupidity” That's an American truth. Canada
isn't much better with Truth-dough in power.
It doesn't matter to me one little bit that LD, who was almost never in any
degree powerful in that sense, told lies, bent the truth, borrowed
unashamedly from others' work, misrepresented his personal circumstances,
or was a sexist or philanderer SO LONG AS HE WAS A POET AND TOLD A GOOD
STORY. Trump matters because his credible story appeals to American
readership. Durrell doesn't matter because his story cannot hurt people.
He was absolutely right when he said we live lives based on selected
fictions. There are two kinds - those that are selected for us, and those
that we ourselves select. Almost all his work involves these two types of
fiction. And we respond to it because it tells us some 'truth' about
ourselves. Truth, if you pursue it long and hard enough, proves itself to
be a fiction.

On Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 11:13 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>

> Truth matters.  And it particularly matters, as you point out, during an
> election year in the U.S. when Mr. Donald J. Trump, presidential candidate,
> is a habitual and egregious liar.  That fact may be a context for this
> discussion.  It is one thing, as John Keats does, to get a particular fact
> wrong, but quite another when Lawrence Durrell, who surely knows his facts,
> prefers to indulge in “selective fictions.”  White lies or societal
> niceties, which we all commit, are no excuse for misrepresentations of a
> higher order.  Durrell’s “selective fictions” licenses too much at times,
> particularly with reference to his art and self-portrayal.  Relativity does
> not justify dishonesty.  I call plagiarism an example of dishonesty—and
> there are many examples of that in Durrell’s oeuvre, which we have
> discussed over the years.
> Re “Le cercle refermé,” what would you call a last poem at the end of a
> poet’s last work, one that recapitulates the poet’s life and describes a
> final closing and “last goodbye?”  I’d call it a summa, autobiographical
> closure.  To suggest that it’s fiction undercuts the poem’s poignancy.
> Granted that the first two lines are a problem—Durrell was never in
> Benares—but even that “fiction” serves as an example of Durrell’s life.
> So, I smile at that bit of “selective fiction,” but I’ll give him that as
> he leaves the stage.  Othello does the same thing at the end of
> Shakespeare’s play.  His tale of the “base Indian” who “threw a pearl away”
> distorts and misrepresents what he did to Desdemona.  Her horrible death is
> draped in metaphors.  But the speech also illustrates a life full of
> dazzling diction.  Othello’s speech is a beautiful artifact, and Durrell’s
> final poem is equally beautiful, obscure and allusive, true to its maker.
> Bruce
> On Oct 6, 2016, at 12:16 AM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> I have reached the point in life, in lying, in reading and writing when
> "truth" has ceased to matter. Electing Trump (if it happens) will be a lie,
> but it will also be a verifiable fact - i.e truth. Every day every one of
> us tells lies, but they are societal lies, as in "Hello how are you?" "Fine
> thanks. And you?" "Great". Not "Not so good, my wife just ran off with my
> best friend and my son was jailed for selling cocaine". We obscure, fudge,
> conceal, obfuscate so as to present an image.The best possible image that
> society wants to see. The best possible story that the reader wants to read.
> If I decline a dinner invitation on the grounds of too much work, when in
> 'truth' I just don't want to spend an evening with that person and their
> guests, am I telling a lie? And if so, a white lie, a black lie or a grey
> lie? And so what?  It was a necessary lie in order to protect myself
> against boredom.
> LD was in his personal life (if there was such a thing) a man incapable -
> like all of us - of telling the truth. He was in search of himself and he
> would tell any lies necessary, and push aside all unnecessary truths, to
> get at that self. You say that PC may not be  'all lies' - so which bits
> are not lies? And which bits that are 'truthful' are really truthful, or
> just partially truthful? C'mon.
> How can any truth-oriented person read MFOA, knowing that it is one
> monstrous lie but a damn good story? A principled reader will refuse to
> read it. And the Bible. And the Sermon on the Mount (both Jesus's and
> Caradoc's, although Caradoc's was more truthful)
> I share the LD view - that it just doesn't matter. And why do you call 'Le
> cercle referme' an 'autobiographical poem'? What 'proof' have you that it
> was intended as such? No, mere readerly, critical supposition. If I said
> that, in calling it that, you were lying, you would, rightly, take offence.
> Keats? He was a POET! but you excuse him because he was 'a bad historian'
> - i.e., he can't be blamed because he didn't tell a lie, just he didn't get
> the truth that historians would insist on. But if Durrell makes the same
> mistake, deliberately, he is, apparently, to blame. A liar. Oh dear, you
> must be a very virtuous person Bruce. And virtue is.....virtual truth, not
> real truth. ha ha
> RP
> On Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 12:11 AM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
> > wrote:
>> Richard, I think we’re back to discussing Durrell’s notion of “Truth.”
>>  (Which differs from mine.)  So we have another kind of “le cercle
>> refermé.”  You’re undoubtedly right that Durrell was chiefly a poet and a
>> storyteller, but I have great trouble when he presents (disguises?) certain
>> works as “fact” (e.g., *Prospero’s Cell* or his autobiographical poem,
>> “Le cercle refermé”) and then proceeds to embellish and distort.  Was he
>> aware of what he was doing?  Dunno.  If he was aware, isn’t that the
>> definition of lying?  Does it matter?  Maybe not to many people but to me
>> it does.  In Haag’s *City of Memory,* Yvette Cohen said (more than less)
>> that Durrell couldn’t be trusted to report accurately.  At the Durrell
>> Celebration in Alexandria (2007), Penelope Durrell Hope said her mother
>> called *PC* “all lies.”  It surely wasn’t “all lies,” but I think a
>> whole lot of fibbing was going on, presumably in the interest of telling a
>> “good story.”  Yes, if Durrell knew there was no fortress at Kurseong but
>> claimed there was, yes, I would object and wonder just what he was up to.
>> Keats can get “stout Cortez” wrong in “Chapman’s Homer,” but no one accuses
>> him of lying.  Keats was simply a bad historian.  Durrell’s “errors,” if
>> such, are something else again.
>> Bruce
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