The facts of life: I read to escape our world, but everything brings me back

This, from William McIlvanney’s cop novel, Strange Loyalties. Take it as a tranquilizer if you’re desperate for immediate get-rid-of-him relief.

If I had belief in the fact, without proof of the fact, what could I do? I couldn’t plant the evidence that would establish the apparent proof, as some of my less scrupulous colleagues might have been prepared to do. That isn’t what I do. It isn’t what I do because it leads to madness. To pretend that subjective conviction is objective truth, without testing it against the constant daily witness of experience, is to abdicate from living seriously. The mind becomes self-governing and the world is left to chaos. That way, you don’t discover truth, you invent it. The invention of truth, no matter how desperately you wish it to be or how sincerely you believe in the benefits it will bring, is the denial of our nature, the first rule of which is the inevitability of doubt. We must doubt not only others but ourselves.

So I would doubt my own conviction for the moment. But I would find a way to test it. It is not enough to think the truth is there. It needs the breath of our acknowledgement to live. I had to find out how to give it the kiss of life.

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