Wednesday, October 27, 2021

A Likely Story

It’s an interesting argument Askold
Melnyczuk makes on behalf of fiction—

That in its fictive specificity,
Concerned with individual cases,

Fiction understands, for each character,
Any other character subjected

To the same experiences likely
Would react to them rather differently,

And, It’s this recognition that has led
Some fiction writers . . . to doubt the idea

Of causality. This doesn’t ring true,
Unless that some is a fairly small sum.

It seems foolish to posit convictions
Common across the spectrum of fiction.

But it’s interesting. Does fiction do this?
Can fiction shake faith in causality?

If so, fiction’s guilty of a large part
Of the grave sin of which it stands accused,

Of calumny against reality.
But what a gift it would be if it could—

If we told you a story, a fiction,
And you saw nothing causes anything.

Is it possible Melnyczuk’s confused
The sense of inevitability

With causality? Is it not the faith
In cause that causes a writer to think

A different character would behave
Differently—faith in character as cause?

But we long to salvage some part of this—
That a story, an invented sequence

Of events cooked up by a writer’s brain
Could be correlative to causelessness.

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