Truth, Lies, and Art

I was rather notably struck by the relationship presented between Ronnie Fontaine and storytelling as art. The novel as a whole implores us to explore what, exactly, is art? And while it enables these ideas in a multitude of ways, I find Ronnie stories to be the most interesting.

That is, are Ronnie’s stories an art form? And if so, how, and perhaps more importantly, why? Sandro notes that Ronnie is, “complicated…You have to listen closely. He’ll say something perfectly true and it’s meaningless. Then he makes something up, but it has value. He’s telling you something” (199). This something is a part of the art that Ronnie creates. While his stories may not tell you truth, they serve a purpose.

So what is art in the novel? Is it all about purpose. Reno’s mission is only complete when she attains the Land Speed Record, thus initiating a purpose to her art. What else, perhaps, denotes the existence of art within the confines of The Flamethrowers? These are just a few of the questions I have struggled with while reading the novel. While I view Ronnie’s form of communication as an art form (and understand why I feel this way), I am interested in discovering how else art and the idea of art manifests itself “less obviously.”

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3 comments on “Truth, Lies, and Art

  1. I’m curious as to what you think the purpose of Ronnie’s stories are. I’m also reminded of Giddle and her stories. Do you think that they are meant to be art, and serve a purpose? If we are thinking along these lines, I think that her impersonation of a waitress could be a kind of story that she is telling. She is striving for authenticity-perhaps that’s what Ronnie and Giddle are trying to accomplish with their stories. Perhaps they are trying to find a more authentic version of themselves?

  2. I have the same question: what is art in this novel? It is hard to distinguish because even some of the artists themselves depreciate their own work. I also find that some of the unintentional works, such as the story telling as you mention, could be considered art. Samantha proposes that they could be trying to find a more authentic version of themselves, which I also think. However, the lying and twisting of the truth would contradict that in a way, because that is the opposite of authentic. I don’t believe Ronnie sees his stories as art, but I do. So, although I have no found an answer to the question, I still wonder who determines what is and isn’t art.

  3. kelsmac14 says:

    I think the idea of “unintentional” is interesting here. It seems that Ronnie intentionally makes up stories that have meaning and intentionally tells the truth without any. I believe that sometimes artists strive to create intentionally unintentional pieces in order to find and/or create meaning – and I get the feeling Kushner has utilized this technique. I’m not sure if this will make sense to anyone else besides myself, but it is the best explanation I can make for my impression that this novel has no clear purpose. I’m kind of hoping Kushner will end the novel with some statement(s) proclaiming the falseness of the novel and perhaps the need of people to find meaning in books, art, and time.

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