Lawyers for non-representational art!

I love the legal disclaimers at the beginning of novels that say “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Well, so much for the preface to The Portrait of a Lady: “Recognising so promptly the one measure of the worth of a given subject [of fiction], the question about it that, rightly answered, disposes of all others–[is] is it valid, in a word, is it genuine, is it sincere, the result of some direct impression or perception of life?…The spreading field, the human scene, is the “choice of subject”; the pierced aperture, either broad or balconied or slit-like and low-browed, is the ‘literary form.'” Those little disclaimers are ideological dynamite, like the bloated pig corpses stuffed with explosives that sappers used to dig under the walls of enemy castles during the Middle Ages to bring them down. It looks like the legal profession is not in favor of realism in fiction. Any resemblance to “persons…events or locales”? Wow, what does that leave? Allegories, like the medieval stories about Piety, Chastity, Jew-Baiting and Witch-Burning traveling to Paradise together, or perhaps reverse Aesopian fables, where the human characters actually represent animals? In any case, novelists often like to pleasure themselves with endless debates about whether their work is any longer “relevant” in the wider world. I say their irrelevance is contractually mandated. Aren’t “unflinchingly true portrayals” inherently a breach in code?

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