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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

February 8th, 2006

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05:56 pm - Reality, truth, and memory
For those not up on the "James Frey Controversy", The Smoking Gun's story is really the kicker for the whole thing.

For those who just want a quick run-down, there's this guy (named, coincidentally, "James Frey") who happened to write a memoir. This memoir was published, and the catapulted to the top of the NYT Bestseller list by Oprah, when she added it to her Book Club's reading list. It was later discovered to be full of false information, which displeased Oprah and made a lot of people feel betrayed.

I have never made a secret about the way my memory works. It sometimes occurs that things did not happen the way that I remember them happening. I touched on it in a journal entry on Nov. 29 (which can be found in an LJ entry). I've thought about it a lot, actually.

For instance, if someone told me that I didn't meet a bunch of Time-Traveling Magicians, I'd call them a fucking liar and I might even have the urge to punch them. The way I write and the way I think are inseperable. As I write, I visualize. I see, feel, and taste. I hear. I smell. Everything takes on a reality beyond the reality of my fingers typing these words right now. The everyday things I experience are entirely lacking in the same reality that I write in.

I imagine that for Frey, it was the same.

I have no doubt that he firmly believed the things he wrote about, that they happened. I have no doubt that his work was honest and possibly had more integrity than my own. Of course, his reality was brought down by overwhelming evidence, as anyone's can be. He probably stepped a bit over the boundary when he placed himself into an accident that took the lives of two girls.

But I don't believe he wrote a word that wasn't true.

So I started telling stories that were true, myself. Let me assure you that the most true of the stories with polls attached is the one about Washburn. The least true is the one about my car going into the shop. And the funny thing is, I have a receipt to prove that my car was, indeed, in the shop until 12:30 on Tuesday. It's three pages long, if you really want to see it.

Every word I wrote is true. Sure, you might disbelieve it, but I know that every one of those incidents happened. I didn't mention that there were 143 Bud Light cans near that cave, but there were. There were also some bottles, but I didn't think I needed to mention that. The other 96 cans were of various makes, with ten being Coors cans. Of course, this was before I knew tesinth well, so the Coors didn't make much of an impression on me, other than that they were a nice round number.

Ask me to describe that cave sometime. I'll close my eyes and tell you exactly how the cave looked. I could tell you what the voice in the cave said, but you probably wouldn't believe that, either. . . but I know it. I can't tell you the temperature, but I can tell you what it felt like (it was a bit chilly when the sun went down, honestly), and I can tell you that the road out of the mining area is rather frightening to drive when the shift ends after dark. And I should let you know that the only thing that the mop couldn't do for us was buy liquor: it had no state-issued ID.

Here's one, too that might catch your attention: I can tell you exactly what healing_coyote was wearing when I met her. It's one of those detail sets that I will forever remember.

Of course, she's indicated in the past that she doesn't own one of the items I mentioned she wore, but I know for a fact that she was wearing it. Her reality may not match mine, but neither is more correct than the other's.

I fully believe that the sun was not a giant ball of burning gasses until we noticed it was. Sorry. What good does it do us to correct that perception? Why does it have to be a giant ball of gas for our ancestors? Why can't it be a chariot? Why not a god?

For that matter, would you argue that in the Aztec world, Venus was actually a planet, similar to our own? What an idiot they would think you! And they'd be right. That's Quetzalcoatl, stupid! Venus was Quetzalcoatl. Maybe it isn't today, but who knows what it will be tomorrow?

The polls, of course, were because I was curious how the entries would be seen. I think a whole lot about perception and how people see my entries. It intrigues me that the perceptions affect how I write. I love how the girl at the library was easy to believe, but the mop that fetched ice was not. I laughed when I saw that the time spent at the arboretum was more real through the interaction others had with it, but the "smackle" of entries was the straw that broke the camel's back and pissed people off. What really amused me, though, was the indication that I had messed up my polls, that there were answers missing, or the wording of the poll title was bad, or I was doing something else wrong. And, I admit, those just fueled my desire to continue with those entries. Sorry, but that's how I work.

I admit, it's really, really funny to me about how people sometimes complain about how I keep my journal. Thanks for the laughs, folks. You make it all worth it. Or something :)

My life is full of magic primarily as a result of how I see reality. There's nothing more real, nothing more true than what I believe happened.

Some entries where I mused on memory and/or honesty and/or reality:


"I could give you a star,
you could give me one too
and that way we'd be even."
    -The Refreshments, "Down Together"
Now, to finish architectural priority II-A: Divinity, as it regards Xochicalco. Then work out Teotihuacan, and then do it all over again for priority II-B: Sacred History.

Workin' hard, gettin' stuff done, thinking about all sorts of things, people, and stars that need collecting and distributing in the near future.

I owe four gold stars, I understand. I'm sure I can come up with what's needed, no problem.
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "Please Come to Boston", -JB

(38 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:February 9th, 2006 04:30 am (UTC)
That is pretty much my feeling on it. I cannot, at all, fathom why it bothers people that Frey didn't actually experience that. I mean, yeah: he said he did, but really, people say they do things or believe in things all the time and don't really. Politicians are a prime example.

And sometimes, the message simply cannot be conveyed in any way except the first-person. It could be construed as a limitation that the writer faces, or perhaps he/she is less of a writer because he or she cannot write from a third-person perspective and fully express themselves.

I have no concept of the scandal that this has caused. Mostly because I cannot see why it should be a scandal.

I like your icon.

*whistfully thinks, "Someday, maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll find myself in a stripclub."*
[User Picture]
Date:February 9th, 2006 05:15 am (UTC)
Well, it is kinda shitty that it lied about it not being true. He could have easily said it was a fictionalized account of his life. However, I have to say for him, it probably makes his writing more powerful if people are believeing it. Because thought it shouldn't matter, and really it doesn't, would Oprah have praised it so much if she knew it was all fake? Maybe, yeah.
Anyway I can totally see both sides of it, I just don't think the guy should be crucified or that this should be a scandal.
Sometimes, when you've told a lie, or an exaggeration, so much...you start to believe it. This guy has formed these ideas about his life in order to write them down, who knows how long he meditated on it, took him to write it, re-write it. And writing it in first person constantly jamming the stuff into his head. I can imagine it'd be very easy to come to believe something you know is fiction is either entirely or mostly true. Especially if it's based on his feelings, which are totally real. He might not have been the victim of that train wreck or whatever it was, but if his feelings were so connected to it, and he wrote like he was, it wouldn't take much for him to actually believe it was true, as you say. And it shouldn't matter to us either.

I'm rambling now. I like my icon too. Maybe someday, if you're REALLY lucky, you won't just find yourself in a strip club, you'll find yourself in MY stripclub. But I can tell you, it's not you thats the lucky one...its any girl who gets to dance for you. Because honestly I can't really imagine a better customer than what I think you'd be. Unless you were a millionare, perhaps. :)
[User Picture]
Date:February 9th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
*nods* In the process of promoting the book as "non-fiction", I do believe that he probably internalized the myth enough to really believe that it was true. The number of times he expressed the difficulty of his "past life" as a drug addict would have caused him, I think, to seriously begin to believe it on some level. I'd call it "internalization of a mythic history", personally, but then, I call lots of things that :)

As to strippers:

Well, I tip waitresses well, so I can't imagine what I'd tip strippers. . .

You, well, you'd get the best tips I could possibly afford.

Though I could almost certainly use some coaching on how to tip/treat strippers, having never been to a club before. I don't know how much a lap dance should cost, for instance, or how even to ask for such a thing.

But I'd try to find out before I went, rather than fumble through it :)
[User Picture]
Date:February 9th, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC)
Well, I could give you a basic tutorial if you'd like. :)
[User Picture]
Date:February 9th, 2006 03:59 pm (UTC)
One might be in order. Then again, I'm trying to work out plans to end up in the Pacific Northwest at some point in the near future, as my bro lives in Seattle. If you're still working there, I can see us making a trip down, if for no other reason than just to see ya again.
[User Picture]
Date:February 9th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
That would be AWESOME. I'll be here until September. :)

In the meantime...here's what you need to know.
1.Stage tipping. If you are sitting at the stage, you should tip minimum $1 per song. $2 is nicer. That's $4 a set. If there is more than one girl on stage, leave your money near the girl you like the best. If you aren't sitting at the stage, but at a table nearby, periodically get up to give however much money you want, from $2-$10 abouts, at the stage of a girl you like.
2.As far as lapdancing is concerned, the price will likely vary from club to club. Our club has dances for $20 and VIP dances (a different room) for $25. Girls may approach you to talk to you, since you're cute especially, and they might ask for a dance. At any point you are more than welcome to approach any girl, whether she be on stage, off stage, whether or not you've talked to her, and ask for a dance. Most girls will probably respond better to you, and maybe even give you a better dance, if you've talked to them first, gave them a compliment or a drink or something. You can also tip more than the cost of the dance. For instance, for VIP dances, I frequently get $30. That's nice.

And...well...thats it, really!
[User Picture]
Date:February 9th, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
*grins* Yes, the central reason, perhaps, why I haven't made it to a strip club: one must go prepared to spend money :)

(It astounds me that I've met people who were unhappy with the service they received when they didn't tip well. . . and freely admit it)

Good to know what the prices are like. . . I'd have probably expected more, and am actually likely to pay more, anyway (after all, as noted above, a person is there to spend money). I'll do my best to make it out there before Sept. I really want to visit my bro (red_sput), for sure. And if I'm going to be out there, there's no question that I'll be making some side-trips here and there.

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