A Million Little Catfish Pieces, or, the Question of Truth
Damn near a month ago, Blake saw Catfish and posted about it here. Well, Catfish finally came to my quaint Canadian town, and I saw it last night. It was good. It was scary.
But what strikes me about this film is the obsession (re)viewers have with whether or not it is true. And sure, I’m no different. After I saw the documentary, I went home and immediately plugged into Google to find an answer.
What is our obsession with authenticity? Why do we “have to know” if something is real or not? Of course, not so long ago, there was a big “to do” about James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, if only because he called some real that was not real. Why does it matter though?
The art of writing is a very futile business if it does not imply first of all the art of seeing the world as the potentiality of fiction. The material of this world may be real enough (as far as reality goes) but does not exist at all as an accepted entirety: it is chaos, and to this chaos the author says “go!” allowing the world to flicker and to fuse. It is now recombined in its very atoms, not merely in its visible and superficial parts. The writer is the first man to map it and to name the natural objects it contains.
Nabokov also said:
Literature is invention. Fiction is fiction. To call a story a true story is an insult to both art and truth.
Such being the case, why do we obsess ourselves with whether or not something is true? Does it matter if Catfish is true or if A Million Little Pieces is true or if Swann’s Way is true? To me, Proust offers more truth than Catfish and A Million Little Pieces. But that’s me.
We are all voyeurs, and we just want make sure what we’re spying is not a ruse. We don’t want to be made the fool.
[Note: To me, the most fascinating thing about Catfish was whether or not the characters were being ironic. I mean: did he really think that girl’s music was good? Did he really think she was that hot? He seemed like a hip New York artist. I expected him to have better taste, or, at least, more nuanced taste. But again, that’s me.]