English professor’s lecture gives deeper perspective on K-State’s common read

Traci Brimhall, Assistant Professor of English presents a lecture on Creativity and Craft in Mark Haddon's 'Curious Incident' in the Union on Nov. 7, 2017 (Alex Shaw | Collegian Media Group)

Traci Brimhall, assistant professor in English, explored how creativity informs the narrative structure of this year’s K-State Book Network common read in a lecture Tuesday in the Kansas State Student Union

Mark Haddon’s novel, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” focuses on what is true and what is perceived as true, Brimhall said. Brimhall focused on the novel’s main character, Christopher, who is very serious in everything he does and does not like figures of speech or things that cannot be proven as literally correct.

“A metaphor should be called a lie because a pig is not like a day, and people do not have skeletons in their cupboards,” Brimhall said. “Thinking about how a lot of the phrases we use are metaphorical, [Christopher] says that a metaphor means carrying something from one place to another. When we describe something by using a word for something that it isn’t, that’s a lie. A metaphor is itself a metaphor.”

Brimhall also talked about how there is a difference between a truth and a fact.

“If you go through a breakup and I ask you to tell me about it, you’d give me some version of events and a version of that other person that is true, right?” Brimhall said. “If I was like, ‘just give me the absolute truth,’ and you told me, then that would be true. If I then went across town and met your ex at a coffee shop and said, ‘okay tell me the truth,’ and that ex swore to tell me the truth, that would also be the truth.”

Using this anecdote, Brimhall explained that a person’s truth is not always fact.

“There’s something in the middle of those two stories that may be the more objective version, but that doesn’t mean either person’s version is untrue because truth and fact are different things,” Brimhall said. “We use truth to learn fact, but a lot of what we’re talking about is truth. It’s a subjective and big gray thing rather than a definable, verifiable thing.”

Brimhall finished by explaining that all lies begin with a truth, speaking about how our opinions and what we think is true is subjective and can change over time.