For years my appetite for fiction, once prodigious, has diminished, and in recent months, in reaction to what Wallace Stevens called "the pressure of reality," it has vanished altogether. Give me facts, give me philosophy; for the time being fantasy repels. I haven't read or seen, much less enjoyed, a story, novel, or film in months, but have I lived? Oh yes, I've lived a great deal these few months, for better and worse.
Intellectually I still see Aristotle's famous point that history merely deals in particulars, whereas poetry at its greatest deals in universals. However, there are stretches in life in which one is so bound by the brambles of particulars that universals are like the dark side of the moon. And fiction is, after all, a species of lying, that propensity that most distinguishes humanity from the other animals.
Fiction is a luxury of civilization, to be relished only so long as no barbarians are banging on the gates. But barbarians infiltrate the citadel all the time, one is never wholly safe...Even now I'm not sure whether art intensifies life or merely offers an escape therefrom.