Ours is a mongrel species consigned to wandering hybrid worlds — worlds that are never enough for us and yet always too much. To craft a tool, to plant a garden, to build a city, to launch a spacecraft is to infuse raw matter with meaning and purpose. To craft a weapon, to burn down a forest, to build an empire, to launch a war… Power and subjection, wealth and abjection, fame and rejection: the imaginary becomes real, fiction becomes fact. We are, separately and together, thrown into a world already made, and so it seems inevitable to us, inescapable, the imaginary inseparable from the material. Is it possible to pull them apart, putting them back together again some other way?
Fictional narratives are works of the imagination embedded in real-world pipelines and platforms, in cash flows and organizational flowcharts, in economic systems and status hierarchies and cultural milieus established long ago. For many of us the fictional tradition is no longer sustainable, trapping writers in economic precarity and readers in literary predictability. Fiction is a canary in the capitalist coalmine, a forerunner of a seemingly inevitable future collapse where workers’ wages approach zero while stockholders’ return on investment approaches infinity, where amid the incessant churn of the marketplace novelty stands in for excellence. Self-publishing seems like an alternative, but it’s just as untenable, with solitary writers making nickels and dimes and readers wading through unfiltered slush while the big online distributors rake in the profits for their investors. We deserve better than what we’re getting, however unlikely or implausible. Can’t something else be envisioned? Can’t something else actually happen?
Taking a stance in the midst and pointing at things that don’t exist, writers and readers of fiction occupy worlds in which the imaginary seems real. But can we complete the magical transformation? Ficticities is imagined as a collaborative laboratory — a collaboratory? — where, as readers and writers, learners and teachers, we fictionalists can collectively immerse ourselves in an alternative fictional multiverse and, through a series of experiments and simulations and pilot projects, start making it real.
My name is John Doyle. In rough chronological order I have been: a student, an engraver, a warehouseman, a vagabond, a bond underwriter, a teamster, a preacher, a therapist, a psychological researcher, a teacher, an AI engineer, an entrepreneur, a corporate executive, a thinktanker, a nonprofiteer, a consultant, a fiction writer. My fictions are available for downloading at salonpostisme.com. Although I am an isolated and disagreeable curmudgeon, I have in the past found myself involved in launching and coordinating a number of multisite collaborative projects across the US — experiences that might come in handy…
…This time though it’ll be different, he told himself — was it a promise or a warning, a hope or a fear? This time it’s personal. This time it’s fictional. This time it’s real.