Friday, February 27, 2009


Fiction isn't true, by very definition. But good fiction isn't exactly "false" either. Rather, stories represent a kind of distilled reality, where all the underlying elements of human life filter out though characters who, for whatever reason, seem really motivated to move their collective narrative along.

In other words, fictions works on the following basic principle: ignore the fact that most people are fairly non-confrontational.

And that's why I love it when people are unintentionally poetic. When, in normal conversation, someone will drop a line that's espectially profound, or so well composed that it seems thougtfully constructed.

One of my favorites was when a friend told me, "I know you don't understand, and I don't know that I can explain."

(I pause here to let you know that, although that line sounds melodramatic, it really wasn't in that context. We were talking about her buying a house.)

I wrote her an entire email back about how nice a line that was, what a good symmetry it executed (I know you . . . I don't know that I . . . ) but I'm pretty sure that she was only convinced of me being a crazy person who fixates on words.

But those poetic moments need not be so elegant. The one that really sticks with me came from a guy I knew who was always in debt. He had recently managed to pay off all his credit cards, and I wanted to know how. 

"Well, he said, it was simple. I took the $100-$200 a month I usually spend on crap, and put it towards my bills."*

That's not just poetic, folks, it's a damn revelation.

*He also once said, "Thank you, Sam, for coming along on the rolling, clanging freakshow that is my life." Remind me to someday name a band "Rolling Clanging Freakshow."

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