Shelby Foote, in the Bibliographical Note to the first volume of his history of the Civil War:
". . . I have tried for accuracy because I have never known a modern historical instance where the truth was not superior to distortion, by any standard and in every way."
I don't espouse what some people call "realism." There's the truth of the dream and the truth of desire as well as the truth of the camera. But they all have inconvenient, fishhook details that catch and seem to want to pull against the story, so there's always the temptation to hammer them straight and to shear off the barbs.
Foote was speaking as a novelist and a historian, but he sums up my position on poetry and science too, and on intellectual endeavors of all sorts. The truth, and the truth, and always the truth: nothing else will do. If it seems to clog and complicate the story, that's only because there's a better, deeper story that I haven't achieved yet. Any time I want to bend a detail to the story, I need to remember that I'm not just betraying the detail: I'm also betraying the better, deeper story that I could have told if I'd kept my commitment to truth.