This afternoon I had a lively discussion concerning my particular distaste for fiction. Admittedly, by fiction I do not necessarily mean the same thing that Amazon.com designates by the same name. Rather, fiction, providing the raw materials from which something like truth could become fashioned, is defined by its inability to surpass the domain of fiction. Fiction, therefore, is fiction, only when it approaches pure fiction — fiction as fiction. For example, my claim is that Kafka’s work is the work of fiction precisely because it does not offer itself up as anything other than what it in fact is – it has absolutely no masquerade or pretense. Fiction is only fiction when it has no other pretense – if fiction poses as truth then it is no longer fiction. This is why I believe that most good science fiction is in all actuality just honest theory. Good science fiction has a world closed in on itself, complete with concepts, equations, etc.
Good fiction, that is, fiction which I find particularly interesting, prides itself on admitting itself as fiction while nonetheless proffering itself as truth. This is what I call theory. Fiction is always fiction as fiction, and theory is always fiction as truth. Lacan famously claimed that truth has the structure of a fiction, and this is precisely what I mean when I state that theory is grounded in works of fiction. Yet, theory supersedes works of fiction by approaching truth. Fiction, for me, is something like the empty speech of the analysand during clinical work – it forever circles truth but never allows itself to approach it. The endless rambling of fiction requires theory’s intervention in the form of the concept. The concept pins together meaning, offers an interpretative apparatus from which one can approach an understanding of the truth of fiction.
Finally, what I want to call politics refers to truth which conceals itself as a fiction. Politics always involves this sort of masquerade. Politics occurs when a solution is proclaimed with great conviction but without any admission of the fictional cloth from which that solution was cut. Politics is the great concept pusher insofar as it produces concepts without technique. This is why politics always requires gifted speakers. The goal of politics is always to produce understanding; this runs contrary to the goal of fiction which is to change or distort understanding.
Fiction is always fiction as fiction,
theory is always fiction as truth,
and politics is always fiction masquerading as truth.
And then, finally, I will claim that mathematics or geometry is always truth as truth. I have to tread carefully here because I know this is contentious. Here, my claim is simply that mathematics is ontology and truth as truth is always truth as ontology rather than truth as fiction. It is at this point that we can bring in Badiou’s claim that mathematics is ontology. For now, I will leave it at that.
The table for this would look something like this:
Fiction – Fiction as Fiction
Theory – Truth as Fiction
Politics – Fiction as Truth
Mathematics – Truth as Truth