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The Beginner’s Guide controversy and the nature of Truth in narratives

February 20, 2016

(originally published on my tumblr a while ago)

I refuse to believe that the only solution to “death of the author” is birth of *all* interpretations – at least, it seems wild to admit interpretations that extend outside one’s mind to invent things about material reality itself. Isn’t this one of the reasons conspiracy theories are ridiculous? “More valid” interpretations draw from culture, history, *context* – it’s just that we don’t admit the “master” interpretations of the past (frequently based on a reading of the author’s biography, and coming only from a privileged class) anymore

Is this a consequence of expecting the Truth from our fictional works? It is occurring during the act of interpretation, right? So it’s readers bringing to bear a way of understanding from the culture they’re in – a lack of comprehension of abstract narrative devices, an expectation of the real thing, straight-up – which comes from being immersed in fictions that suggest they *are* the real thing: tv (especially “reality”), movies, photography, – and also from living in a reality that itself contains so many fictions (simulacra) – there’s so little anymore to grasp that is definitively real, so people invent their reality, naturally. It’s a dearth of truth producing tons of false ideological truths.

From the perspective of TBG: yes, of course this and similar pieces of media that present themselves as ambiguously truthful are playing with the culture’s current confusion about truth. But this is *clever*, this is where people should bring their understanding of irony to bear. And IF it is based on real events, it is still so much mediated as a work of art that reading any real-world events into it that are of ethical relevance (like that the content is really stolen) is foolish. And understanding this doesnt even take an understanding of this particular author’s intent – it’s just how all creation happens! This, in fact, is where death of the author *should* come in – the context of the author possibly basing this story on reality lends itself to misinterpretations. Forget this – i.e. kill the author – and you can minimally understand it as a work of fiction, *as it truly is*. Interpretations from there may be multiple and varied and you’ll have the issues that you get with opening things up by killing the author, but at least we have a common perception of the reality of the work that is not patently wrong. Keep an understanding of it as fiction and then interpret based on the real context of the culture it’s produced in (one where truth is muddled), *not* the invented context of the author’s life, and we can all come to a better critical community – diverse as well as productive of valuable meaning.

(some of these thoughts inspired by http://correlatedcontents.com/?p=1989)

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