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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where the truth lies by John von Daler


I quit reading fiction a few years ago.

    Why?
    Perhaps Garcia Marquez forced it by writing
"One Hundred Years of Solitude", convincing
me that I never would read a better book.   
    Or maybe I just got tired of being ignorant
and decided to learn something about the hidden
currents of the world in which I live. I wanted facts, not fiction.
    It did not occur to me then how our history
hides in the shadows of myths.
    Through the last third of the twentieth century,
a good friend frequently visited a South American
tribe. He grew to know them as a quiet lot,
well-fed, fairly lazy, charming. They had plenty
of food and no large problems. They sang no songs and told no tales, just talked and laughed quietly among themselves while they lay in their hammocks.
    On one of his recent visits he found them
threatened by guerrillas, by government soldiers and by international companies trying to get their land. Suddenly he heard them singing songs about
their glorious past and telling stories about heroes
unknown to him. The dire facts of their life became a foundation for as yet untold myths from their history.
    Some eight hundred years before, at Acre
Richard the Lionhearted rode through the waves
on a warhorse, wearing magnificent armor and
waving a jewel-studded sword: the stuff of fiction,
not fact. And yet it happened.  The man knew what he was doing.
    Quitting fiction for facts? Tell me about it. If you can get the story right.

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