In Lie to Me: Fiction in the Post Truth Era, Adam Kirsch presents the problems that writers have faced and continue to face. What can be taken at face value and what is credible? How do you make sense of the world that we are living in, considering that it is one ridden with lies and doublespeak? While fiction involves the suspension of disbelief, it is also a writer’s way of revealing the truth. He speaks of something called ‘reality hunger’ that has led to the rise of memoirs. On the other hand, there is a craving for what is not real.
The problem with our “post-truth” politics is that a large share of the population has moved beyond true and false. They thrill precisely to the falsehood of a statement, because it shows that the speaker has the power to reshape reality in line with their own fantasies of self-righteous beleaguerment. To call novelists liars is naïve, because it mistakes their intention; they never wanted to be believed in the first place. The same is true of demagogues.
Another essay that speaks about politics and the novel is Considering the Novel in the Age of Obama by Christian Lorentzen. Every presidency in the US has been linked into a corresponding order of fiction. So what was Obama lit like? The author discerns distinct styles: autofiction, meritocracy novels, the retro novel and the novel of trauma. A fantastic read.
Politics and speeches go hand in hand.Robert Lehrman writes about the dumbing down of speeches in Do Trump’s simplistic speeches respect or insult Americans? Does dignity and grandeur stand a chance in this brave new world? Time will tell.