Thursday, June 18, 2015

Creases Of The Soul

He must attain and maintain that lofty sight where facts yield their secret sense, and poetry and annals are alike. The instinct of the mind, the purpose of nature, betrays itself in the use we make of the signal narrations of history. Time dissipates to shining ether the solid angularity of facts. No anchor, no cable, no fences avail to keep a fact a fact. Babylon, Troy, Tyre, Palestine and even early Rome are passing already into fiction.

The Garden of Eden, the sun standing still in Gibeon, is poetry thence forward to all nations. Who cares what the fact was, when we have made a constellation of it to hang in heaven an immortal sign? London, Paris and New York must go the same way. “What is History,” said Napoleon, “but a fable agreed upon.” This life of ours is stuck round with Egypt, Greece, Gaul, England, War, Colonization, Church, Court and Commerce, as with so many flowers and wild ornaments grave and gay.

I will not make more account of them. I believe in Eternity. I can find Greece, Asia, Italy, Spain and the Islands; the genius and creative principle of each and of all eras in my own mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote those thoughts in his 1842 essay History. Facts turn into fiction as time moves through our minds. It’s hard to distinguish between fact and fiction because we like to turn fiction into facts. Writers write facts, but those facts are covered in the unique flavor of fiction. Fiction is an assortment of facts turned inside out to express possibilities. Experiences are composed of endless facts. Some of those facts become beliefs; some become lies. We judge facts and label them.

Our beliefs create a snapshot of the reality we call factual, but within our beliefs there are kernels of fictitious growth. Our reality is a mindful experience as well as a physical one. The mindful experience is registered in the creases of the soul. In those creases, fact and fiction are the same. In our physical experience facts rule until they fade into the fiction we call history.

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