You want to know if it was real.
Tim Barrus

People need to understand that the concept of reality in an artistic context goes beyond the simple questions of “what does this mean?” or “did this actually happen?”

Poetry in particular can be extremely opaque. Anyone can write a poem about staring at their toe and make it sound like some sort of melancholic introspective journey through time and space if they really want to.

As for “did this actually happen?” it’s a fairly irrelevant question outside the memoir industry (which we all know you’re glad to be out of), and even then only if you’re caught, and even if you’re caught, only if Oprah or your publisher or the government or some guy writing an exposé for a magazine isn't in a forgiving mood at the moment.

Nowadays, everything’s a lie and everything’s the truth. When words are being aimed in one’s general direction questioning them is important, but figuring out what the answers are actually telling you about the person (or machine I guess, since algorithms are slowly starting to replace journalists and some generic types of content writers) behind them is a lot less straightforward than it sounds.

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