The Many Ways of Truth

Some stories are like that, though, strange in the telling. Some people do not trust stories, thinking them inferior to the real, to what they like to believe is the truth. The truth, though, is never that simple. There are many truths, many ways of seeing the world.

Some of those ways are better than some others. It is almost a modern heresy to say it, but it is true. Well, as true as anything can be.

Some things are as true as they can be. Mathematics for instance. Not only is one and one going to equal two, if the maths says your bridge is going to fall down, or your aeroplane plummet through the clouds, then that is what will happen.

The numbers don’t lie, even if some of the people using them do.

I wonder what that has to do with stories, though.

I had an uncle, Albert. He knew how to tell stories. At every family gathering, there would be a group around him, listening quietly, intently, followed by a roar of laughter that made everyone else in the room wonder why they were where they were and not over there with Albert. He had the gift of stories, of telling tales, of being the one who spoke while others listened.

Of course, those stories, Albert swore, were nothing but the truth. But there was always a glint in his eye when he said it, he knew – perhaps instinctively – or with the talents of the storyteller, that truth is malleable, that it can bend and distort. He knew there were many ways of telling the truth that could –sometimes – be an outright lie.

This story, for example, is not true. I never had an Uncle Albert, but this is fiction, a story. A lie that pretends to be true, even though we know it is a lie, to sneak some other truth in under the lie that we pretend is true.

You have to wonder sometimes why people get so annoyed about inaccuracies and errors in stories. If the rest of it is not true, then why worry about the incident in the tale where someone does something incorrectly. For example, when the author confuses a revolver and automatic pistol, or the villain boards a train that didn’t exist in that period of history, or that faster than light travel is not possible.

If everything else is a lie, then why does one bit of that lie cause the whole edifice to crumble?

After all, most other readers will not have that an in-depth knowledge of late 19th century rolling stock or train timetables. So the error, if that is what it is, will pass them by. They will go on believing the lie.

Until someone points it out to them.

Now you know Albert did not exist, his stories have lost their lustre. Now you know his story telling was just a story, you no longer believe in him.

Ah, but there was a bloke I did know, though, who told great stories at parties. Everyone gathered around him and went home with their sides aching. It is just that his name wasn’t Albert, and he wasn’t my uncle, but I did love his stories.

It may have been him who first told me this story, or maybe that is merely another story too.


Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

5 thoughts on “The Many Ways of Truth

  1. Stories, to me, are a way to IMPROVE reality, to strip away some of the extraneous garbage surrounding most events in real life, and to show the truth inside and under.

    The fact that people like listening, like reading, is enough proof that this is necessary.

    Otherwise the garbage drowns out the REAL truth.


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