Bernard Page 6
 
 
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?