Books are a forest and it’s hard to see the trees, except the tall ones or the old ones. But when you enter the forest, it’s the new growth that emits the sunlight....

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

True or false? The imagination as scientific theory

**Claude:  A Dog of the Sixties is FREE Kindle Nov 26-30**

Imagination usually has a positive connotation. Lies are “falsehoods uttered or acted to deceive”, my old Webster's dictionary says. There was a period, it seems in the 1990's, when some interviewed about the fictional process claimed facetiously that they were good liars.
I guess a person uttering a falsehood without knowing the truth is not a liar. They are incorrect. A lie operates with the intention to deceive.
The term “meant to deceive” is used by antique dealers, less often by used book dealers. I discussed with a seasoned book dealer the issue of signed copies and whether people could get away with forgeries, thinking it could be risky to be certain of an autograph.  One grade school year, I practiced handwriting by copying the signatures of my parents, one backhand and the other forward. I didn't think about signing checks, however a person can get pretty good at another person's signature.
A few years ago, I found a confusing book at an estate sale. It was a perfect copy of A Christmas Carol  marked only with Chapman & Hall MDCCCXLIII.  I wanted it for the original illustrations but of course, the perfect condition was suspicious. Usually, facsimile copies are marked by the publisher as such and the publisher is identified on the copyright page. I would not be a liar and yet it made me wonder what would happen if a person knew how to dirty up the book and wear off the edges of the binding. Charles Dickens self-published A Christmas Carol, but soon afterwards Chapman & Hall became the book's first publisher. I see on Abebooks today that a First Edition copy is priced at $9000.

Photo from Wikipedia

At the time, I didn't see what is on Abebooks today, that Chapman & Hall published a facsimile of that 1843 book, however they didn't mark it as a reprint or facsimile. I felt that my book, in its condition, would have had to have been stored in an lead box and kept in a cool place to be a book from 1843. I researched it, and couldn't find the information about Chapman & Hall's facsimile. Yet the spine binding, I felt, would prove its reprint or facsimile status. Its components, a color dye, seemed to be  from a later period. I guessed my book could be from the early 1900's.
Chapman & Hall might have published the facsimile before their business merged with another publisher in 1930. That was all I could figure. But it looks as if I was right and re-sold my copy with acceptable information.
After I began working with antiques, I started an inkwell collection. I made a mistake with a porcelain inkwell that was probably “made to deceive.” On the internet was a Limoges inkwell in the French style, and quite beautiful.  When I got it for too good a deal, I was still stunned at the Limoges mark – looked like someone wrote out longhand Limoges. After that, an antique dealer told me that inkwell reproductions were being made in China. I knew I had one and I re-sold the inkwell, making it clear that it was not Limoges of France. I didn't lose much from that lesson.
The informed reader often comes across books where the settings or the characters seem replicated from other media or produced from a wishful imagination because details give away the author's ignorance. Yet many can be fooled and don't mind it. 
Then there are the authors who are not trying to deceive but they prove to be incorrect. I haven't read a lot of science fiction but the speculative nature of it makes flaws acceptable. The book Perelandra by C. S. Lewis was a favorite of mine way back in the 1960's. Then I re-read it after the Venus probes.  I couldn't finish it, a book I had loved. I tried to re-imagine for C. S. Lewis, that a watery planet with floating islands was in another solar system rather than ours. But my disappointment about Venus kept intruding into the story.

Image arztsamui @

Image Victor Habbick @

When people don't know, the imagination is like scientific theory. From ancient times, prophets were hailed or cast out for their true or false predictions. I like to think of fiction that way, as a speculative venture, based on what an author knows, researches, or fathoms. The unknown fascinates and the author tries to fill in those gaps.