All Quiet on the Western Front

First Person, Singular: Fiction as a Vehicle for a Deeper Truth College

The map is not the territory, the sculpture is not the subject, and the sequential arrangement of black marks on a white page or screen (or red ochre on a cave wall) is not the reality it attempts to depict. Every recorded human experience has been changed by transmission through the human medium, simply because with every passing letter the author must select—and permanently record—one symbol and not another. Meanings of some words have changed over time, acquiring and losing symbolic and allegorical meanings until the literal interpretation of a poem or story differs substantially from the symbolic one. (1) Yet, when an author finds le mot juste and strings enough of them together, he or she can do three very important things. First, the author can take a snapshot of a specific character’s perspective and context in an authentic “realistic” environment. This, while doctored somewhat with the literary equivalent of PhotoShop, is still the best technique for capturing a generic person’s experience, because it allows an author to agglomerate the experiences of many people so as to create a more complete depiction of reality. Second, the author can depict themes and images that illustrate deep and permanent truths that transcend...

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