Tag Archives: wisdom

What is Fiction?

robert-fordAt one point in HBO’s Westworld (don’t worry, no spoilers) Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) gives a speech about stories, about the value of fiction. He references a belief that fiction elevates — or at least illuminates to good value — the human condition. The belief also holds that those who read a lot of fiction are in some sense “better” people.

The idea is controversial on several grounds. Firstly, it’s hard to define what makes people “better,” and you can’t measure or test what you can’t define. Secondly, even if “better” is defined, not everyone will agree with the definition. Thirdly, there’s a nature-nurture aspect that makes comparisons like this very hard to tease out of any data you can gather.

Maybe a place to start exploring the idea is to first define “fiction” and go from there…

Continue reading


Over Yonder Hill

One of the things that drives this blog and informs its content is that I have a sense of being on the downward part of the hill.

The hill in question being the one they say you’re over when you’re past your prime. Mind you, I’m not far over it, but the path definitely leads downwards these days. As a great poem puts it in another context, “But at my back I always hear, Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.

[That poem, by the way, is a hoot. It’s about an 17th century guy giving his gal the old line: ‘Time is short, let’s get it on, baby!’ And you gotta love a poem with the couplet, “The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace.“]

Continue reading