fiction and nonfiction

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Deckard
 
Reply Sun 31 Jan, 2010 11:11 pm
I generally prefer nonfiction to fiction but I think its healthy to include some fiction in ones diet. I think at the bottom of it all, my preference for nonfiction is really more aesthetic than practical. Given a choice, I usually read nonfiction that doesn't have any practical application to my life. I just like the way reading nonfiction feels more than I like the feeling of reading a made up story. But I'm not a purist; I like the idea of blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction - making up fake nonfictions and telling true stories as if they were fiction.

Which do you prefer: fiction or nonfiction? A perfect balance of both? Is this a false dichotomy? Are there other categories that should be mentioned here?
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 05:05 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;123985 wrote:
I generally prefer nonfiction to fiction but I think its healthy to include some fiction in ones diet. I think at the bottom of it all, my preference for nonfiction is really more aesthetic than practical. Given a choice, I usually read nonfiction that doesn't have any practical application to my life. I just like the way reading nonfiction feels more than I like the feeling of reading a made up story. But I'm not a purist; I like the idea of blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction - making up fake nonfictions and telling true stories as if they were fiction.

Which do you prefer: fiction or nonfiction? A perfect balance of both? Is this a false dichotomy? Are there other categories that should be mentioned here?
I find history so much more interesting than any imagined story. I have that terrible fault of guessing the ending of a fictional story and usually I'm correct, I really annoy myself.
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 05:39 am
@xris,
Last years I read lots of cooking-books. Most interesting was to compare the older ones. Lots of facts. Lots of stories. Lots of economy as well!
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 06:15 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;123985 wrote:
I generally prefer nonfiction to fiction but I think its healthy to include some fiction in ones diet. I think at the bottom of it all, my preference for nonfiction is really more aesthetic than practical. Given a choice, I usually read nonfiction that doesn't have any practical application to my life. I just like the way reading nonfiction feels more than I like the feeling of reading a made up story. But I'm not a purist; I like the idea of blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction - making up fake nonfictions and telling true stories as if they were fiction.

Which do you prefer: fiction or nonfiction? A perfect balance of both? Is this a false dichotomy? Are there other categories that should be mentioned here?



Miss Prism. Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.
Cecily. Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don't like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.
Miss Prism. The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.


(The Importance of being Ernest by Oscar Wilde. Act 2)
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 11:02 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;123985 wrote:
I generally prefer nonfiction to fiction but I think its healthy to include some fiction in ones diet. I think at the bottom of it all, my preference for nonfiction is really more aesthetic than practical. Given a choice, I usually read nonfiction that doesn't have any practical application to my life. I just like the way reading nonfiction feels more than I like the feeling of reading a made up story. But I'm not a purist; I like the idea of blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction - making up fake nonfictions and telling true stories as if they were fiction.

Which do you prefer: fiction or nonfiction? A perfect balance of both? Is this a false dichotomy? Are there other categories that should be mentioned here?

It is all fiction...We are as incapable of telling the truth as we are of knowing it...In statements of social problems, it is much easier to present the problem as analogy, as the Wizard of Oz, or Animal Farms show... Since the object is to change minds, it is easier to show change in a single mind...Look at the religious songs All Along the Watch Tower, or Locomotive Breath...These are powerful statements that effect people whether people realize what they say exactly...They work literally, or through the use of archetypes, but understanding them rationally is not necessary to getting their sense, and yet it is the sense that changes people...
 
Rubix Cube
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 11:44 am
@Fido,
Deckard,

If you enjoy non-fictional works more than fictional ones, but still enjoy fiction for it's, say, creativity, I'd suggest you read historical fiction or factual novels. The Killer Angels is a great Historical Novel about the battle of Gettysburg and is one of my favorite reads. It's both very informative/factual in regards to details of the battle and its lead up, but it still retains the feeling of a good novel. I highly recommend it.

As for my thoughts on fiction v. non-fiction I find that I most enjoy a balance of both types. I read practical guides/manuals when I need to (cook books, computer language books, electrical guides... really whatever I happen to be tinkering with at the time). I read fictional works from Novels (All quite on the Western Front and The Catcher and the Rye are a few that I really enjoyed) to fantasy and Sci-Fi., but I also read History books and books on philosophy. In general I feel that mostly all works of literature or otherwise have their merit and should be considered in the grand scheme of human creation.

-James (Rubix Cube)
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 03:15 pm
@Rubix Cube,
I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction. A rounded education will include an equal measure of both.

I also enjoy works that purposefully blur the distinction. Kerouac's mature novels do some of this by relying so heavily upon the narrator's immediate impressions, as opposed to the more traditional first-person protagonist like Jake Barnes.

Hunter Thompson goes a step further with his 'Gonzo Journalism'. I think it was Mankiewicz who said that Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 was the "least factual and most accurate account" of the campaign. And he was talking about that professional journalist's reporting for Rolling Stone magazine, which was later compiled into the book.
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 05:02 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;124190 wrote:
I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction. A rounded education will include an equal measure of both.

I also enjoy works that purposefully blur the distinction. Kerouac's mature novels do some of this by relying so heavily upon the narrator's immediate impressions, as opposed to the more traditional first-person protagonist like Jake Barnes.

Hunter Thompson goes a step further with his 'Gonzo Journalism'. I think it was Mankiewicz who said that Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 was the "least factual and most accurate account" of the campaign. And he was talking about that professional journalist's reporting for Rolling Stone magazine, which was later compiled into the book.

Equal measure??? Fiction is the stuff of childhood, unless your aim is money, and you do it right...
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 07:57 pm
@Fido,
I suppose The Sun Also Rises is a children's book, then?

I simply have to disagree with you, Fido. Sure, today the most popular fiction is a matter of entertainment rather than art. But if you read Willa Cather's The Novel Demeuble, she makes this important distinction, between fiction for the purposes of amusement and fiction for the purposes of art.

And I am under the impression that art is not merely for children.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 08:17 pm
@Deckard,
The distinction isn't really that useful. You can have completely realistic fiction. And most books that are considered non fiction contain fiction, like history books and especially autobiographies.

I generally turn to fiction for entertainment and non fiction for substance. But there are few things better than substantial fiction. It has an unparalleled ability to communicated the intangible feel of substance. On the other hand, it can also convincingly communicate bs.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Mon 1 Feb, 2010 08:49 pm
@Deckard,
Are dialogues (e.g. Plato's) fiction or nonfiction?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 08:38 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;123985 wrote:
Which do you prefer: fiction or nonfiction? A perfect balance of both?


I don't really have a preference per say. What I enjoy more, of the two, depends on my mood and purpose for reading at that particular time. Over the long haul; however, I've found a quantitative balance of both helps me to not burn-out. I think that if more people included a regular variety, they might not get bored with reading as often as they perhaps do.

Deckard;123985 wrote:
Is this a false dichotomy?


Not at all; and I'd say that anyone who says 'Its all fiction anyway' unnecessarily blurs the distinction. Sure, its readily conceded that Nonfiction isn't always the objective truth, but as we've concluded many times, truth is a matter of perspective and available information. What lies outside us - that absolute truth - though it probably exists, may or may not correlate precisely to what we believe is the truth. This isn't a reason to blur the distinction, nor is it prudent justification to disbelieve everything presented. Skepticism is good, annihilation of all 'trust' isn't

Also, Nonfiction tends to deal with 'facts' that can be quantified (facts being events, chronologies, quantities and specifications) and then proceeds to present those facts in a setting. A "setting" in this context may be to propose a conclusion about the facts, to simply inform or to lead the reader to a certain conclusion. What is very important here, I think, is that we separate 'facts' from how such facts are used.

When I read Nonfiction, I often find that most (if not all) facts[INDENT].. are either true (insomuch as they've verifiable)
.. were believed to be true at the time or from that perspective
[/INDENT]But this isn't the largest "Fictionizer" of Nonfiction; from what I've seen, what 'invalidates' most nonfiction (where such as been the case) is what I mentioned above: How accepted facts are used, that as presented may lead to false conclusions. It's like statistics; they can be spun to influence people in virtually any direction - by omission of variances or emphasis/de-emphasis.

So yea, being skeptical is good. But we derail our own reading experiences if we categorically distrust everything - join me in a dance of "Everything's Absurd?". Nah, no reason to do this. What I do is this:

  • I'll initially 'trust' that what an author presents as truth, is. I, the reader, consciously retain the right to ultimately make up my own mind.


  • Then as I run across information presented as fact, I give it a Gut-Check: Does it jive with what I've seen, believe I know or experienced? If so, I leave it alone...


  • ... If not, I do some checking. In my library I keep a laptop up and connected for just such occasions; can I verify <yada>? Most times, and in most cases, the author's accurate.


  • But this isn't the biggest pitfall; The biggest issue that can blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction isn't the accuracy of items presented as fact, it's the conclusions drawn that can be spurious.

I think we all should read critically; but give the authors the benefit of the doubt. Plato probably sincerely believed what he wrote - I won't begrudge him that, nor does that example nullify any subsequent author's fidelity or intent.

Thanks
 
Fido
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 12:41 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;124262 wrote:
I suppose The Sun Also Rises is a children's book, then?

I simply have to disagree with you, Fido. Sure, today the most popular fiction is a matter of entertainment rather than art. But if you read Willa Cather's The Novel Demeuble, she makes this important distinction, between fiction for the purposes of amusement and fiction for the purposes of art.

And I am under the impression that art is not merely for children.


Heminway was good at childish books...All that stuff, war, fishing, drinking, violence, running with the bulls is the stuff of childhood... Some people never grow up and face the facts...From my perspective, fiction may be as close as we can get to the truth...Try to tell a social truth in a non fiction fashion and you could fill a library with facts no one will bother to read... One can frame the same argument for social progress that the facts support in a simple story that may reach millions...If one dispenses with the notion of truth to begin with it is possible to approach the truth without troubling with veracity...Tell a story, but Art is subject...Make the subject a worthy one...Uncle Toms Cabin was a damned lie....It never told how bad things were, or how good they might be... Yet the subject carried the day...
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 01:16 pm
@Fido,
How about nonfiction that analyzes fiction i.e. literary criticism? You have to read the fiction to write or fully understand the non-fiction criticism and many of the facts involved are the facts of what was written as fiction. In fact this branch of non-fiction couldn't exist without fiction.
 
Lily
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 01:24 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;123985 wrote:

Which do you prefer: fiction or nonfiction? A perfect balance of both? Is this a false dichotomy? Are there other categories that should be mentioned here?

Fiction! Or, well, I read cookbooks and my schoolbooks, but fiction is just a lot more fun. I want to read a story, for me reading is escaping reality, so reading about reality is not something I like to do. I think it's like this: you get wiser by nonfiction, but you get to experience more by fiction. I mean, how often do you run across a dragon in real life?
 
Fido
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 02:06 pm
@Lily,
Lily;124403 wrote:
Fiction! Or, well, I read cookbooks and my schoolbooks, but fiction is just a lot more fun. I want to read a story, for me reading is escaping reality, so reading about reality is not something I like to do. I think it's like this: you get wiser by nonfiction, but you get to experience more by fiction. I mean, how often do you run across a dragon in real life?

I had an uncle who was a PHD, and head of the Nat Sci department at Moo U. for many years...It always made me wonder at the amount of spy fiction he used to read...I often wondered if the Goverment was not paying him to do so, checking for good, or leaked ideas...I started out out with fiction, and have even tried my hand at it, some... But it got me into philosophy and there I have kept, and at general knowledge...I will never know enough, and will never be properly educated...It would slow down my education to go to school...But the contrast between myself and my Uncle is telling...He knew everything, and could afford, I guess, to play at reading...I played at reading when young, and can hardly bear to read any fiction not a classic...And there is too little of life and too much to know that one can say can be known...Fiction may help people think, but I want to know
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 03:31 pm
@Fido,
Fido;124412 wrote:
Fiction may help people think, but I want to know


Interesting distinction but one has to think about things before things can be established as knowledge, right? A lot of new unknown or at least unconsidered ideas come in through fiction.
 
Fido
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 04:50 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;124442 wrote:
Interesting distinction but one has to think about things before things can be established as knowledge, right? A lot of new unknown or at least unconsidered ideas come in through fiction.

Not at all possible... We learn long before we can think, and cannot begin to examine all the knowledge we arrive with complete in the form of culture, which is knowledge...And we cannot add but little or none to the accepted knowledge of human kind...One must have facts to make thought more than speculation...
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 06:00 pm
@Fido,
Fido;124483 wrote:
Not at all possible... We learn long before we can think, and cannot begin to examine all the knowledge we arrive with complete in the form of culture, which is knowledge...And we cannot add but little or none to the accepted knowledge of human kind...One must have facts to make thought more than speculation...


Right now I am thinking about what you are saying but I don't know what you are talking about.
 
Fido
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 06:48 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;124497 wrote:
Right now I am thinking about what you are saying but I don't know what you are talking about.

You must know much to think little, whether you know you know, or know how you know, or not..
 
 

 
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