Tuesday, December 5

Looking for truth

Besides the plays assigned through Literature III and the notable exception of Fight Club, my fiction reading habits have as of late been reprehensible. For myself, the last work of fiction I can remember reading, at least for the first time since I did power through most of my old Animorphs over the June, July and August, was Dr. Zhivago back in the early summer. Since then, it's been nothing but news articles and essays covering economics, religion, sociology, psychology, politics and what not. On my desk, ready to be read now, are In Defense of Elitism, Crossing the Postmodern Divide and The Condition of Postmodernity, and they aren't metaphors.

In no small part, I'm sure this change in reading habits is affected by the collision of my tendency towards stinginess with my money and fear of trying something without a reccomendation. These works of philosophy are freely available at the university library, and if they aren't directly spoken of during some class, they do touch on topics we do discuss. In contrast, I often leave the local independent bookstore empty-handed because I'm afraid of wasting my money on some poor work of fiction that I have heard nothing of.

I do believe, however, that there is a large issue at play here, and that is this search for truth I speak of in the title. Philosophical works and those of the social sciences have pretensions of explaining and making intelligible the many aspects of the world we live in through logic or empirical evidence or whatever while fiction is largely understood as amusement. Saying that fiction cannot contain great truths or whatever is hugely wrong of course, and the legs of the social sciences are hardly the strongest. They find it very hard to explain everything or their various adherents even find it difficult to agree on most things.

The important questions come last here. Am I right or perhaps just arrogant? Is this right to pursue truth in such a way?

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