Also issue 30 Trying to exit with grace and dignity
Also we're on Timbler.com
On the cage of the narrative
"There are no stories in the world. There is no such thing as a story, there are only events and occurrences. We tend to deny this, but it is the only truth. These occurances are totally without moral interest or value. We ascribe, we create, the moral aspects and the value to the events. We pick the events and subevents that we find salient or convenient, those that we desire and link them together and turn them into a story. It is at once a skill but also a natural movement. Inescapable. It is something we have in us, impossible to stifle. It is a natural urge, a tic, a fault really. I call it a fault because consider how frequently our lives are made worst by story creation. Consider how much our lives would be improved if we could just accept the randomness of events, could just accept that things happened for no reason. Consider how much happier we would be if we didn’t get stuck asking the why questions, or trying to figure out the how’s of the world. We would be so much happier, really. We would be freed from a lot of time spent ruminating and worrying. Of trying to connect disparate points. We would just accept that things happen, nearly always for no reason or at best out of chance.
We wouldn’t look for reasons behind disasters or pain or atrocity. We wouldn’t look for retribution or revenge or any of that. We wouldn’t try to live our lives like stories with defined heroes and villains and narrative arcs but would simply accept what happened, what came to us and let it be, knowing that nearly nothing occurred because of our own choosing but nearly always from outside sources and causes. Not only in ourselves this would free us up from other, and from creating narratives for larger things, like businesses, countries, religions.
Interesting how religion is just a narrative. It is a story you tell yourself that then guides your actions. Too narratives of the future, i.e. if I do this now then these good things will happen to me in the future, these good situations will be made inevitable somewhere down the line. How do these help us? Do they ever really come true? Do these things come true most of the time or some of the time or never?
These narratives of the self, perhaps most disrupting, allow us to feel self-pity and indignation and so on. We create one story for ourselves and when that story does not fulfill we get angry and shunt these feelings to other places. We sublimate these feelings in a way and end up in these locked in cycles that just make us feel bad.
I guess none of this is new. I think the really interesting part is how it is pretty much impossible for us to keep ourselves from making narratives from random events. Like what would it be like to totally train yourself to stop doing this? What would a person who could do this be like? How would a person who had removed the narratives of their lives live? Would this person be happier or feel more free or be aware of this trait (I guess they would have to be because they would force themselves to do this)? How would this person interact with the world, how would this person approach things. It makes me thing that they would be really strange, that they would be really unusual. It makes me thing they would stand out in a crowd, or in conversation.I mean but really this would be impossible. It just wouldn’t work. This need to make stories. This need to string together events and connect them. This need to connect ever part of these events into a coherent string so that each part follows (logically, I guess) from the once proceeding it. The tendency to take distinct points in time and space and connect them and ascribe some value to those points and then some value to the whole so that one ends up with this coherent package, this thing that can be pointed to."