My friend Karl and I were pulled up the escalators of the old American National Bank on 6th street, the white marble pillars bruised with gray at our flanks. Spread across the new floor we ascended to, was a herd of chairs - hairy and waiting in silence
Above them, directly in front of us, spanning some thirty feet were the shapes in Seymore Fogel's mural - sharp angles and arguing colors meant to tell a softer story, I think.
In complete silence, I felt nostalgic for a time I never knew. For a mid-century place I've never been. For a people and an existence that may have existed, but not in the way I could ever understand.
I wish to have been there when angles were first shifted and colors first known in a new way. When simplicity and stark contrast were shelved together. When Don Draper smoked cigarettes and drank scotch whiskey at 9:00 in the morning.
When you could invent anything and, with the right story and artwork, people would believe in it.
Is this fiction - the existence I've created in my head of a world I wish to know so desperately? Can a man want something so terribly that doesn't and will never exist? What does that do to him - to lay asleep heavy in his bed and believe in a fictitious place, in a conversation around a boardroom table with skinny ties and rolling chairs?
This makes me wonder if fiction is actually real the way Hemingway calls it in his introduction to A Moveable Feast:
If The reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.
Recently, my friend Richard was working through a piece of writing - he told me he was trying to describe a conversation with someone he admires, but the scene that actually occurred wasn't real enough. Richard said, I need unreal events to describe a real man.
Perhaps fiction is real emotions we can't see or realize in this life unless we extract them and drape them onto someone else in some other world - someone we never have to think inside of.
This way, their actions don't echo inside of us individually, but they echo amongst us.
Maybe fiction works because it's the life we lie to ourselves about manifested before us. It's the world we believe in, but haven't the bravery to create within. As Richard puts it, In fiction, actions are depicted that reveal true emotions better than if we only tried to describe them.
This is why I believe in telling stories, in showing the world to others in a new way (But really it's a way we have all known). Fiction is the truth of human emotion, the shard of a bone-deep feeling, the hum of blood in our veins that longs for a Narrative.