Melissa and I seem to be thinking on the same wave-length this week, which I’m sure must be frightening for her. Lately I hear and read a lot about relativism, truth, certainty, and knowledge. I think, to a large degree, people use these terms in discussion and debate without ever coming to agreement about what they mean. Let me start by saying that in my personal thinking and for the purposes of this post I am going to define knowledge as ‘determinative power’. To know something is to be able to speak of its innate substance (to determine that things truth), yet as humans we are incapable of understanding the innate substance of that which surrounds us. We must place out trust in something internal, our senses, our feelings, our logic, etc. Let us say that I place my trust in only what my senses tell me, then I must assume that my senses are trustworthy and can accurately tell me about the world.
If I place my trust in my feelings then I must assume the same, the same for logic; thus I, as a human, am incapable of saying anything about the intrinsic nature of anything else, only about my understanding of that intrinsic nature (this is what we normally mean when we say knowledge). Because of this I can speak only of my understanding, and the beliefs I form around it. This is not a denial of truth or an acceptance of relativism, do not assume so, it must be accepted that there is one truth and that truth is absolute (truth=reality), however my ability to understand and form beliefs about that truth is limited. This is also not an argument that all beliefs lead to one truth. It should be obvious to anyone that two contradicting beliefs cannot both be correct, though they may have objectively equal truth claims (e.g. a woman and her clone both claim to be the original, both have exactly the same memories, dna, personality, identifying marks, etc, thus their truth claims are objectively equal, but only one is actually the original). Lastly, this is not an argument against certainty. I can, and do, have absolute certainty in my beliefs. I believe that my beliefs are an accurate reflection of the truth (if I did not, I would not believe them), but I am, and must be, willing to accept that I could be wrong (however unlikely I think this to be).
Why does this matter? As an author I create worlds, thus I know what is and is not true within my worlds (knowledge=determinative power). While my fans may read my writings and form beliefs about my worlds, they cannot ‘know’ what is true about my worlds, unless I tell them. In the real world we are all in the same position. God is the creator and holds creative authority over the real world, just as I hold creative authority over my fictional worlds. Thus, as only I may hold knowledge about my fictional worlds, only God may hold knowledge of the real world. Just as my readers opinions, beliefs, and convictions about my world may reflect the truth of that world; my opinions, beliefs, and convictions about the real world may reflect the truth of God’s creation.
In your literary world you are, effectively, god. Your word is creative power, and true knowledge is limited to your mind. There is nothing that you can’t do in your world, though there are certainly things that you shouldn’t do or that your fans won’t like (God doesn’t have to worry about critics, editors, and selling copies afterall). While our readers may inform our decisions (as can our own characters – Moses after the breaking of the Ten Commandments, anyone?), they cannot determine those decisions. Remember that, no matter what anyone else says, you know what can, should, and will happen in your world better than they do…even if they know the details better than you. This is an important distinction because it gives you the freedom to do what you need to do, even if someone else might not like it. Glen Cook, one of my favorite authors, made the point that, in spite of critics, a writer has to write the way he writes. So write the way you write, and then find people that like it.
We must also realize that not everyone is going to like what we write. The same is true with God, there are a great many people that don’t believe in him, or that don’t agree with him (this is true whatever religion you are from), and, just like our readers, they have a right to disagree. In this case disagreement will (according to many religions) bear somewhat greater consequences than missing a great book, but it is still their choice.
Among the Neshelim is now available in eBook on Smashwords and Kindle and in print from Amazon.com, I’ll have a link for the print copy coming soon. I am curious what people think of the blub. Does it draw you in? Make you want to read the book? If not, why not?
Among the Neshelim
Understanding. One little word, and yet it means so much. We spend our lives pursuing it in one form or another. We long for it, we seek it, but it is always a rare commodity.
Chin Cao Yu, priest and scholar, has sacrificed all he held dear in its pursuit. Now he undertakes the journey of a lifetime, a journey among the mysterious Neshilim, a people of power unlike any he has seen before. This journey will turn the world he thought he knew upside down and challenge everything his dearly held beliefs. Has he found the ultimate truth or the ultimate lie? And what will he do with it when he learns?