When Truthfulness Is Not Accuracy

“Tell me a potent, powerful story that moves me, and tell me it’s all true.  And if I find out that the facts are not accurate, then I can call you a liar.”

Is the memoir format a journalistic one?  Should we hold it to the penchant for accuracy we have, or should we evaluate truthfulness?  After all, it’s so much easier to dismiss something because it’s innacurate rather than because it’s false, and dismissal is the way we do things.  “Well, he just made this up to [Insert Motivation Here: Sell Books, Self-Aggrandize, Get On Oprah, Whatever], so it can be dismissed in toto.”

Apparently, Mr Frey wanted to sell “A Million Little Pieces” as a novel, but his publisher knew that people want “true stories” more than the other kind (“false stories?) so it came out as a memoir. 

It’s not all perfectly accurate.  OK, sure.  Which of us, when writing about the experience of our lives, can be perfectly accurate about them?  While reporters may want to hold us to their standards, the experience of our lives is not the experience of us reporting on our lives.

I remember when one of my staff told a client that we were working on video compression techniques.  I was furious.  It was perfectly accurate, that statement — in the company, we did have people working on compression.  But it was also untruthful, because those people had no connection with anyone working on the product he was selling.  Accurate and untruthful because of the connections (or disconnections) that lay concealed.

The truth of our lives rarely lies in the facts of those lives.  Rather, it lies in how those facts connect, in the story that ties those facts together and drives us forward, the synapse chain that informs and activates our choices.

If we demand that the stories we are told be true then we are asking people to lie to us about accuracy, because truthfulness is not always accuracy.  It now appears that Bill Clinton really believed he didn’t have sex with that woman, that his experience of that encounter was that it was separate from “real sex.” While that understanding was factually inaccurate, it was probably true to President Clinton, and was the story we wanted to hear.

Don’t try to stuff me in a matrix or insist that accuracy means truth.  To a tranny, who has had to break free of some facts to claim a greater truth, the notion that accuracy is the only truth is just oppressive. 

“Lie about who you know yourself to be, or we will call you a liar about your biology and history.”   It’s a shitty, shitty choice.

Being a tranny involves too much heavy lifting that wears you down, too much building of sheilds and shells to get though the stigma.  And that lifing comes mostly because this culture venerates “reality” over truth, and thinks accuracy is the way to truth, that any innacuracy can erase truth.

But truth, well, it is a shimmering thing, shot though with perception, contradiction & ambiguity, and when we can catch a enough of it in symbols to reveal its shifting shadows beneath, what more can be asked?

I guess The Smoking Gun would know.