Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Can Opposites Both Be Right?

A person much smarter than I am said this: “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth.” His name was Niels Bohr, one of the twentieth century’s most important physicists.
Bohr was a physicist. This is not about G-d or unearthly matters. Neither is my post. It isn't even about the sanctity of scripture. it is about the variety of human perceptions. This, from my perch, is a crucial aspect of writing good fiction.

That’s the way I see the election cycle we just passed. I never seek profound truths in politics. Politics is the worldly art of deal-making. But parties couch their drives with underlying philosophies. The philosophy of small government and self-sufficient individuals, and the one of government that re-distributes some resources to the weakest in our society, both of them contain deep truths about how to be good human beings.

That’s also the way I feel about the conflict in the middle east, where The Voice of Thunder, my novel for middle grades, is set. There, too, is a story of two rights.

As writers (unless we write “How To…” books) we are searchers not so much for the pragmatic but for profound human truths that give our stories their value. Yes, it must be served up as entertainment. Sure, it should reflect a lot of what is and not just what it should be. Granted, it should not come across as preaching. (This I get to do here, wink.)  

But in the end if a story is to be good literature, it will contain profound truths. No, this^ isn’t one of my many typos. I wrote truthS, plural.

I don’t mind being labeled a relativist or even wishy-washy when it comes to this world, human theories, and human perceptions. My life’s experience has led me to perceive those who think otherwise as fanatics.

I even think we need fanatics at times, to stir a ship that has run too far off course. That is how fanatical I am about the reality of many human truths.

Trust that it isn’t a copout. It’s harder. Accepting that I wasn’t given a ticket to view the ultimate is humbling to grasp. It’s also more difficult to write about many truths.


Vijaya said...

I can hold many contradictory thoughts in my head ... but there is only one Truth. Each of us works on different parts to make this world a better place. In theory. That's why we have conflict. Love and Law ought to go hand-in-hand, but we cannot agree on what love is.

Hard to articulate all this. You're doing a good job!

Ann Herrick said...

Truth can often be dissected in to many conflicitng truths, which can divide or unite us, depending sometimes on how we look at it.

Kelly Hashway said...

Profound truths do give our stories and our lives purpose. Nicely said.