The Counterfeited Blog Post

Posted on Sat 22 February 2014 in Random

I've been reading E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and in it I came across a discussion on the French writer André Gide, specifically about his book Les faux-monnayeurs(The Counterfeiters).

The book is a merge of reality and fiction, Gide himself keeps a journal of his life as he writes the book and appears to merge the two. The writer is celebrated in Aspects for hurling himself into the novel and for not being bound by the style at the time or "All that is prearranged". There's a good example of it in this passage. When brought into a discussion about the book Edouard(who is Gide's representation in the book) responds on it's subject. I suggest you read this passage but keep blogging in your mind.

"And what is its subject?" asked Sophroniska. "There is none," said Edouard sharply. "My novel has no subject. No doubt that sounds foolish. Let us say, if you prefer, that it will not have 'a' subject.... 'A slice of life,' the naturalistic school used to say. The mistake that school made was always to cut its slice in the same direction, always lengthwise, in the direction of time. Why not cut it up and down? Or across? As for me, I don't want to cut it at all. You see what I mean. I want to put everything into my novel and not snip off my material either here or there. I have been working for a year, and there is nothing I haven't put in: all I see, all I know, all I can learn from other people's lives and my own." "My poor man, you will bore your readers to death," cried Laura, unable to restrain her mirth. "Not at all. To get my effect, I am inventing, as my central character, a novelist, and the subject of my book will be the struggle between what reality offers him and what he tries to make of the offer." "Have you planned out this book?" asked Sophroniska, trying to keep grave. "Of course not." "Why 'of course'?" "For a book of this type any plan would be unsuitable. The whole of it would go wrong if I decided any detail ahead. I am waiting for reality to dictate to me." "But I thought you wanted to get away from reality." "My novelist wants to get away, but I keep pulling him back. To tell proposed by reality, and the ideal reality." "Do tell us the name of this book," said Laura, in despair. "Very well. Tell it them, Bernard." "Les Faux Monnayeurs," said Bernard. "And now will you please tell us who these faux monnayeurs are." "I haven't the least idea." Bernard and Laura looked at each other and then at Sophroniska. There was the sound of a deep sigh. The fact was that ideas about money, depreciation, inflation, forgery, etc., had gradually invaded Edouard's book - just as theories of clothing invade Sartor Resartus and even assume the functions of characters. "Has any of you ever had hold of a false coin? " he asked after a pause. "Imagine a ten-franc piece, gold, false. It is actually worth a couple of sous, but it will remain worth ten francs until it is found out. Suppose I begin with the idea that — " "But why begin with an idea?" burst out Bernard, who was by now in a state of exasperation. "Why not begin with a fact? If you introduce the fact properly, the idea will follow of itself. If I was writing your Faux Monnayeurs I should begin with a piece of false money, with the ten-franc piece you were speaking of, and here it is! " So saying, Bernard pulled a ten-franc piece out of his pocket and flung it on the table. "There," he remarked. "It rings all right. I got it this morning from the grocer. It's worth more than a couple of sous, as it's coated in gold, but it's actually made of glass. It will become quite transparent in time. No—don't rub it—you're going to spoil my false coin." Edouard had taken it and was examining it with the utmost attention. "How did the grocer get it?" "He doesn't know. He passed it on me for a joke, and then enlightened me, being a decent fellow. He let me have it for five francs. I thought that, since you were writing Les Faux Monnayeurs, you ought to see what false money is like, so I got it to show you. Now that you have looked at it, give it me back. I am sorry to see that reality has no interest for you." a pity," remarked Bernard.

Whilst reading this I couldn't help but think of bloggers in general. Reality interests bloggers, it's what we typically write about. However reality too sometimes puts us out. A lot of bloggers(myself included) tend to write about things were really excited about, that's understandable. Why would you write about things you don't find interesting? The problem however is how we present our reality. People tend to get a snapshot of things at the peak of the writer's enthusiasm. So things become overly positive (or overly negative depending on their personality).

I may write a post about an incredibly productive trick I've found only to find a month later it's stopped working. Or some step I took in simplifying has ended making everything more complicated. Either way we're still trying to pawn off a counterfeit coin as real and it's something that should be addressed. These posts are snapshots in time but that's not how life works. For myself I'm hoping to cultivate a habit of reviewing my last month of posts and adding addendums in the hope there is a slightly more honest looking coin on the screen.