Nothing Is True, Everything Happened for Real

Postmodern novelistic strategies violate epistemological paradigms in a meaningful way, especially when the focus of the game involves the lexicon of fundamental concepts – history, facts, reality, rationalism, reference. Such play is also engaged in by the Czech writer Josef Urban, author of a novel whose title not coincidentally corresponds to the object of the historical and literary quarrel discussed above – Poslední tečka za Rukopisy (The Final Mark on the Manuscripts, 1998). The “driving force” of the author’s concept, placed at the dividing line between two cultures, the world of seriousness and the world of fun, lies not in the possibility of heightening tension between them, but rather violation of the antinomy itself and the functions arbitrarily assigned to both spheres. Here we can talk of a parody of the literature of fact or, holding with the formula suggested by the narrator, of a “new literature of fact” (notlitfak for short), a particular way of engaging in “new journalism,” an ironic commentary on authentic literature, an intertextual carnival, a paradocumentary game, the Czech national imaginary in miniature, a “double hoax” (Joanna Czaplińska), a polemic with scientific axioms (Lubomír Machala) or a new emancipatory novel, whose liberationist element would inhere not in the projection of a conspiracy theory, but in the intention of revealing the skeleton of such a theory. Such a novel would thus be situated close to the concept described by Leszek Kołakowski of a “philosophy of the clown,” and thus would to a certain extent be “a vehicle of change and an appeal to rethink the foundations of our culture anew.” The driving mechanism of its functioning turns out to be fiction, but fiction that has undergone multifaceted redefinition.