Everything is Fiction is the title of my Doctoral Thesis. I’ve chosen it here as well not only to broaden my meaning in that context, but because I believe it transcends that title and functions as a theoretical philosophy.
For the Thesis, my use of the phrase ‘Everything is Fiction’ was meant as a challenge. In that context, it embodied the precarious nature of my using two fictional accounts (novels by the English writer Ian McEwan) as ethnographies of Atheism. By using these sources, not only was I trying to challenge the idea that an ethnography, by necessity, must appear as an objective text written from a trained professional in the field of anthropology, but that even those sorts of texts, by their inherent ‘artificial’ nature, were fictions in their own way.
In the context of this blog, I am attempting to do the same, but on a larger scale. As I stated in the first post, by ‘fiction’ I mean that ‘everything’ is based on a construction, the most predominant form being that of a story. As I said there:
EVERYTHING IS FICTION means two things:
- Meaning, such as ‘reality claims’ all derive from stories. Stories are how we communicate. They function on dialogue and interaction, and it is through interactions with others that we begin to understand ourselves. Stories are how we shape our lives, make sense of disorientation, and re-orientate ourselves in the face of disappointment or triumph. Religion, history, culture, science, and philosophy: all of these are products of stories. However, because stories function on dialogue and communication, stories are also discourse. Therefore, stories are neither true, nor false, neither fiction, nor fact. They are just discourse, and can only be perceived and examined as such.
- As discourse, stories are constructions, so that the meaning or ‘truth’ sourced from within them is dependent upon discursive contextualization. In this way, much like how Kliever or Miller depict all claims of reality or all human knowledge as ‘fabrications’ or ‘constructions,’ translated herein, ‘fictional construction’ does not mean something ‘made-up’ or ‘false.’ Rather, it means something ‘made-from’ or manufactured as well, what Geertz refers to as ‘faction,’ a precarious portmanteau that depicts even the most objective of ethnographic texts as “imaginative writing about real people in real places at real times.” (Clifford Geertz, Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989), 141.
EVERYTHING IS BASED ON A STORY, STORIES ARE BASED ON DISCOURSE, AND DISCOURSE IS ALWAYS CONSTRUCTED.
EVERYTHING IS FICTION is my way of discussing, analysing, and critiquing discourse.
This blog, then, is my attempt at making sense of the ‘fictional’ things that I perceive, stories that I intend to tell via stories that I have myself constructed. As well, the focus of these posts will likely have something to do with Atheism or anthropology or writing, as these are the things I know most about (or that are most occupying my interests) at this point in time. What this also means is that the posts that appear within this context will vary in style and appearance, sometimes looking like very distinct research articles, and sometimes taking the shape of more reflexive or narrative-based opinions.
In this way, not only will I be attempting to further my argument that ‘everything’ is fiction, I will be doing so in a number of ‘fictional’ ways.
For more information on me, here’s a quick bio and some useful links:
I’m from southern California, and grew up in a small town called Ramona, a good forty minute drive from most of anything. After avoiding university for a few years and learning to truly hate working retail jobs, I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of California, Riverside. I then went on to California State University, Long Beach where I received a Master of Arts in Religious Studies, with a focus on early American religion and New Religious Movements. From there, I took a detour to Texas where I attended Baylor University, earning a Master of Arts in American Studies (emphasis on fundamentalism, Atheism, and New Religious Movements in America) and a Master of Arts in Church-State Studies at the now deceased J.M Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies (emphasis on the ‘legality’ of Atheism under the US Constitution’s First Amendment). After that, I came to Edinburgh where I have lived for four years working on my PhD. Here, my focus has been on Atheism, mostly through a discursive lens, attempting to make sense of it beyond the restrictions of mere ‘definitions.’
The Religious Studies Project: http://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/persons/ethan-gjerset-quillen/