|Chalkboard from Marquette class|
But the thing that arises this morning, that I keep coming back to, is a conversation I had with my Marquette writing students about the difference between Truth and Fact.
This arose out of a quote - which unfortunately I have misplaced - from a card I got in Dallas. The paraphrase is that Truth is more important than Fact. This quote has haunted me for two weeks now, and as I was going to be discussing fiction with the students in class anyway, I brought up the distinction in terms of fiction and nonfiction.
They loved it.
I have engineers, nurses and journalists, theater majors and English majors in my class. We spent at least a half hour alone talking about the different between Truth and Fact, and some of their insights, as I entered the topic with no expectations, blew me away:
- Facts are not as clean as all that. Look at witness reports that change over time and are reported as fact in trials and in articles.
- Truth is relative but more reliable, in their opinions. Natalie Goldberg says (paraphrase) if someone doesn't like your memoir and says it isn't true, tell them to write their own version of what happened.
-Memories are stories - versions we tell. They contain Truth, which goes beyond Fact and is sometimes not even changed by discovering "new Facts."
-Fiction is the best place to express Truth, memoir next. Then for Facts, if they need be treated as Facts, non-fiction is best, especially journalism.
-Poetry is the perfect Truth machine.
What do you have to say about this?