Unreal Nature

October 26, 2018

What Really Happened

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:35 am

… experience is what really happens to you in the long run; the truth that finally overtakes you.

This is from ‘St. Augustine and the Bullfight’ by Katherine Anne Porter:

… W.B. Yeats remarked — I cannot find the passage now so must say it in other words — that the unhappy man (unfortunate?) was one whose adventures outran his capacity for experience — capacity for experience being, I should say, roughly equal to the faculty for understanding what has happened to one.

[line break added] The difference then between mere adventures and a real experience might be this? That adventure is something you seek for pleasure or even for profit, like a gold rush or invading a country; for the illusion of being more alive than ordinarily, the thing you will to occur; but experience is what really happens to you in the long run; the truth that finally overtakes you.

… Adventure may be an afterthought, something that happens in the memory with imaginative trimmings if not downright lying, so that one should suppress it entirely or go the whole way and make honest fiction of it. My own habit of writing fiction has provided a wholesome exercise to my natural, incurable tendency to try to wrangle the sprawling mess of our existence in this bloody world into some kind of shape: almost any shape will do, just so it is recognizably made with human hands, one small proof the of the validity and reality of the human imagination.

[line break added] But even within the most limited frame, what utter confusion shall prevail if you cannot take hold firmly and draw the exact line between what really happened and what you have since imagined about it. Perhaps my soul will be saved after all in spite of myself because now and then I take some unmanageable, indigestible fact and turn it into fiction; cause things to happen with some kind of logic — my own logic, of course — and everything ends as I think it should end …

… Literary art, at least, is the business of setting human events to rights and giving them meanings that, in fact, they do not possess, or not obviously, or not the meanings the artist feels they should have — we do understand so little of what is really happening to us in any given moment.

-Julie

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