Last week, I read in two sittings Torgny Lindgren's In Praise of Truth. What follows are some of the things I noted while reading. A review of the book would be too long for a blog post. But a suite of marginalia might be of some interest. So more of these about this book will follow. This is the sort of thing I want to do more of on the blog.
Theodor Marklund, the narrator and protagonist, is a picture framer. He refuses to have exhibitions of work by artists living nearby, preferring instead to sell "the genuine oil paintings that a traveling salesman from Malmö supplied me with." His reason? "Really bad paintings are honest and genuine in a completely different way from mediocre serious art."
In Praise of Truth, of course, is about the question of what is genuine and what is fake. Are they really antitheses, or do they complement each other? Might the authentic be an ingenious combination of the two?
Marklund discovers at an auction and manages to buy a previously unknown painting of the Madonna by Nils von Dardel. It turns out to be a triptych and he puts it on display in the window of his shop. As a result, Marklund says, "people came, that's all I can remember. But I don't know in what order they came, in many cases I don't know what they wanted of me." One visitor hangs around for three days. "He was the only one I really talked to." Among the things they talk about is journalists:
Journalists and newspapers and radio and TV. About the way a high, bright space is constructed, and beneath that space a landscape one thinks one recognizes just because it is so unambiguously a landscape, but one in which nothing is true or unfalsified, and instead of real objects and living creatures and vegetation there are just words and concepts and fantasies.In Praise of Truth was first published in Sweden in 1991. But this is a nice pictorial analogy for what has come to be referred to as the "media narrative" - the interpretation of events presented as reportage.