Questo è quello che si nasconde sotto 'l manto di queste favole, ed è una veritade ascosa sotto bella menzogna.
“This is the one,” says Dante in his Convivio, “that is hidden beneath the cloak of these fables, and is a truth hidden beneath a beautiful lie.” The poet is describing the allegorical mode of signification, which he considers superior to the literal mode of signification consisting merely of parole fittizie, “fictitious words.” Language, to Dante, is involved in a process of debasing the truth of the world which it describes, and, in its metaphoric application, becomes an algebraic variable in the factorization from a truth which is material to a truth which is knowable, or, to Dante, anyway, spiritual. Thus the fable, or the story, is merely a catalyst which, through the compound algorithm of a double interpretation, facilitates the ascension from the surface of the letter to an ineffable truth, and the fictive substrate undergoes an aesthetic apotheosis in the process of conducting this literary alchemy. Indeed, the allegory is itself a kind of arch-symbol composed of simpler symbols, strengthened through the perpendicular reinforcement of the words, which stand for the events in a story which never happened, and the corresponding analogy between the story as a symbol itself and the unapproachable idea which it represents. It would seem, then, that the beauty which Dante appreciates in the lie exists in its sacrifice, its willing submission to the truth, which is perceived as an aspect of a somehow higher level of signification.
But the consistently agreeable ideas of truth and beauty are not resolved in Dante’s religiously informed narratology. In contrast to the objectivity and supremacy of Dante’s truth, beauty is notoriously semantic, subject to the roving critique of the beholding eye. A rudimentary formula of aesthetics lies in this dichotomy: beauty, in opposition to the inalienable truth which oozes out of everything as knowable data, is beholden to the subversion done by fictionalization, by confabulation. Indeed, if, in order for a thing to beautiful, it has to be made, then the beauty must lie as much in the recognition of the process which created the thing as in the material substance of the thing itself, and we’ve been saying all along that writing is a process of information production. Given that revolution begins as fiction, then, and that the ultimate revolution is a kind of universal reversal which rewrites everything, the ultimate revolutionary project is the adornment of the whole world in a fictional bunting which will make it beautiful, and this is what we stand for, in the end, what we want: the beautification of the planet. It must then be recognized at the outset that beauty is fundamentally in opposition to truth, or at least to a certain concept of truth.
In his Semantic Conception of Truth, Alfred Tarski asserts that the idea truth only pertains to sentences: truth is not a property of reality, but a semantic or formal stipulation which is specific to the language in which the truth is claimed. What Tarski means is that the idea of truth exists in the context of the relationship between a thing and a statement about that thing. The world is the way it is, says Tarski, and statements about that world either do or do not correspond to the situations which they purport to signify: the fact or fiction of this correspondence is truth. On the other hand, Tarski simultaneously establishes that the idea of truth as it pertains to sentences within a language can necessarily not be defined within the framework of that language. Otherwise, what would come of the recursive ambivalence of a sentence like This sentence is not true? In order to resolve the paradox illustrated by such self-negating statements, Tarski resorts to the devices of an object language, which makes the statement, and a metalanguage, which talks about the object language: the specific statement of truth itself becomes a symbol in the vocabulary of the metalanguage. All statements, by virtue of being made, imply verity, and the factuality of falsehood of that truth can be established only outside of that system of language, through an algebra in which the statement “q” corresponds to a state Q.
It’s previously been established that information (and statements are information) comes into existence simultaneously with the situation described by the information. When approaching the information with the intention of analyzing its validity, though, the application of the metalanguage immediately triggers a chain reaction of semantic regression. The statement, which insists by virtue of existing on the truth of the content which it conveys, becomes itself the content of an overarching clause which in turn makes its own declaration of parity in the true-false bivalence:
I feel strange.
I say that I feel strange.
It is true that I say I feel strange.
He wrote, “It is true that I say I feel strange.”
Thus the commitment to truth as a semantic measurement with a possible modality leads to an armillary infinitude of parentheses and quotation marks. This is because the integrity, which might easily be construed as truth, of a datum is implicit in the datum’s existence: the information exists because something happened, and that information, read in a physical arrangement which is a direct result of the event which it describes, is an index to the event itself. This perpetual grasping for the reconciliation of a sentence which you read with a world which you see, which are both, in the end, only the present, the perceived and ephemeral surface of the situations to which they correspond, is what substantiates time by creating a progress, or perhaps a regress, of stages of semiosis ranging through phases of sign production and interpretation. It is not enough to say that the sign is merely sent and received; it’s the dilemma of truth which leads to belief in the past and a theory of the future, the elements of a conviction of the self as a continuous entity, are the things which make us conscious of existence, rather than merely existent. So truth describes the recursive operation which separates consciousness from whatever is not conscious, and is wrapped up in all the spiritual hubris which humanity assigns to itself.
Dante penned his Convivio at the end of the Dark Ages, prior to the Comedia, as a kind of critique of the Latin poets of antiquity and a development of the nascent humanist philosophy which would inform his later masterpiece. Now we stand at the dawn of a new dark age, which will seemingly be characterized by the same preoccupation with the documentation of everything which marked the golden era of Roman Christianity. Just as the medieval scholars assiduously recorded the minutia of their mundane ecclesiastical universe, the modern program of society seems compelled to be constantly chronologizing itself, creating an indelible empire of characters, numerals, and punctuation which, taken as a whole, provide the formula for a simulation of the universe in all of its states which exists in the world at any given moment. Underlying all of this informational prodigality is a preoccupation with the primacy of truth, coupled, perhaps, with a lack of faith in the semiotic mechanisms inherent in the universe. So, in a world which seems to always be short of everything, we face an encroaching glut of data.
The Fabulist reaction to this situation is a commitment, not to be perceived, at least wholly, as an anarchistic impulse, to a program of rigorous dissemblance. Just as the truth is always exploding into increasingly convoluted encapsulations of what is happening as it happens, the Fabulist revolution will be a fiction executed using an expanding and progressively more complex vocabulary of situations and phenomena. So many of the fictions which I read today are still like the transmissions of a probe on an alien planet, relaying the most rudimentary data about the world as it could be, offering little more than the forms and colors of the worlds which they describe. The new Fabulist fiction will be characterized by a much more sophisticated system of signification. Public figures and celebrities will be used as our characters: they’re already attached to images, histories, and personalities which offer more than any writer could care to describe starting from scratch, and we never really start from scratch, anyway, because every term is loaded with etymology and a history use. Likewise we will freely adopt the things that other people have already written, or refer to other writing through citations remitting varying degrees of transparency, or alter it as required by our own constructs. Wherever possible, we will use the most concise and replete version of the thing which we’re trying to describe, striving for a certain economy of language achieved through the multileveled embedment of things within term which become themselves things subject to subsequent abstraction. The result of this righteous linguistic banditry, in conjunction with other Fabulist principles which have been and will be described, will be a beautiful monstrosity of literature, a Frankensteinian apparatus of references, a gothic construction bristling with information and semiotic nuance. This formidable architecture, with semi-colons as sconces and vast, compound sentences for turrets, will be the site of the revolution itself, a diabolical linguistic machine which will be the generator of the legion of fictions which we’ll send out into the world in order to efface reality and make it something else, make it Fabulist.