but only its appearance~that sometimes disingenuous literary 'value'
called plausibility, which we know that truth itself often suffers
from the lack of?"
"The truth" is an explosive device waiting to go off in every writer's
computer. It threatens everyone around him, from his spouse to his
agent, his parents to his publisher, his distant relatives to his
increasingly less distant (thanks to the internet) readers. It can
risk his career. It can endanger the writer's relationship with himself.
So: the writer has every incentive to appear truthful, and many reasons
not to be. Yet, without truthfulness, what is a writer worth, or the
writer's work? On the other hand, what value does writing have when
it fails to bury its talons in the reader's mind: when it is not "effective"?
The dilemma seems to run deeper still. The literary mind is often
averse to the demands of precise thinking and analysis. As Paul Valery
wrote in his preface to "Monsieur
Teste": "I have always been suspicious of literature . . . The art
of writing always requires a certain 'sacrifice of the intellect.'
We are all aware, for example, that literary reading is incompatible
with too much precision of language. The intellect demands of the
language of daily use a perfection and purity that just isn't in its
power. But then, rare is the reader who finds pleasure in thinking
strenuously. We win the attention of most readers by entertaining
them, and that kind of attention is passive." The literary mind is
sometimes a little too sure there is a succinct and simple phrase
for every thought, even if it's just a clicheť; that everything
significant can be said simply and clearly. This may come as a surprise
to many mathematicians and physicists. And if writers can't accommodate
their truths, what use are they?