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June 25th, 2004


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06:36 pm - Stories and humility
On Friday, I'll be standing in the same gap I was when I nearly lost a friend to the mountain. I hope I don't this time through.

The mountains aren't terribly forgiving if you aren't ready to fight for your life. It's highly unlikely that the mountain will be friendly, and I've had my share of close scrapes. Unfortunately for me, they happen to mostly be my less glorious experiences. There's nothing romantic or adventurous about being cold, wet, and tired, out of potable water, and 50 miles from the nearest human soul.

To tell the stories, sometimes, borders on egotism, for it's usually a story of personal triumph over something you shouldn't be able to win against. The story is always one of personal struggle, in which the human participant becomes the giant, a larger-than-life hero who was doing little more than survive.

It's amazing how, when these stories are told, they grow to substantial proportions, and the adversity always multiplies itself by much more than the hero.

This isn't a conscious thing, I don't think. I suspect that most of it has to do with how the person wants to show who they are, and that worries me a bit. When I think back to the stories I could tell, and there are many, am I remembering actual events, or am I remembering how I wish I had acted? Is my memory intact, or am I creating my memories as I go?

Finally, does it matter?

If I were telling memories that never happened, am I lying? How would you see it? If the memories seem fully real, then did they happen? If they're real memories, but I modify them, then is that an outright lie still? If there was no memory, but by the end of the day I've told the story so often that it has become part of my memory, does that make it real?

I don't know. I don't really care. I'm unhappy with stories that I feel have lifted me beyond who I actually am, which have given me powers over things I should not have power over, which have attributed to me what should be attributed to dumb luck.

Some of my stories might never be told because of that. Is that a good thing?
Current Mood: cynicalcynical
Current Music: "Savannah Fare You Well", -JB

(8 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:smithing_chick
Date:June 25th, 2004 08:59 pm (UTC)
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Damn, dude. Don't be so hard on yourself.

Stories have their own life- that's why so many of them grow in the telling. It's their nature to do so. The really good stories get to become myths when they grow up.

You shouldn't worry about making yourself look bigger or better than you are- stories magnify the characters in them. Since you're such a great guy to begin with, you're bound to come out well in the end. :)

Have you seen the movie Big Fish? If you haven't, you really ought to. It's got a lot to say on the nature of stories that might let you be a bit less cynical.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 28th, 2004 07:29 am (UTC)
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?Have you seen the movie Big Fish?

Of course I have. And I identify very well with the father.

Problem is, *that* bothers me. I don't mind stories defining my life, but I do mind them being untrue stories that define it.
[User Picture]
From:odinkar
Date:June 26th, 2004 06:48 am (UTC)
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Hey, we're in the age of Contemporary literature. If you want to write a story in modern times talking about the hardships of nature, the futility of man's plight in the world, and how nature is a cold and uncaring mistress, then you could very well be the next Stephen Crane!

Naturalistic stories can be very depressing, but also very good.

As for the memory question; I cannot tell. I often wonder if things that I remember happened how I remember them, if they even happened before. It's because we have no way to prove if anything truly happened that I believe that reality is defined by the person living it, and is therefor completely subjective.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 28th, 2004 07:28 am (UTC)
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It's because we have no way to prove if anything truly happened that I believe that reality is defined by the person living it, and is therefor completely subjective.

That's how I lean. However, my training as an historian fights that pretty hard. Honestly, there's a lot in my life that's dependent on memories that I'm not sure whether they're true or not, but they still shape me.

Part of this is drawn out of the idea of mythologization and the sacred drama that I wrote about for my last class. It made me very self-reflective.
[User Picture]
From:bean_drui
Date:June 26th, 2004 08:42 am (UTC)
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Everybody does that though. It's human nature, because you can never look at yourself objectively. All you can do is tell your stories the closest to how you remember them, and while that may not equate 100% to the reality of the situation, it is the closest anyone can get. Besides, the truth in the situation doesn't always lie in what happened step for step in the outside world, but how you dealt with everything and reacted, and changed.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 28th, 2004 07:24 am (UTC)
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True. I find it useful to be self-critical occasionally, though. I need to find a way to figure out what really is true in my writing, and I need to come to terms with the idea that what is true is not necessarily objectively true.
[User Picture]
From:misslunakitty
Date:June 26th, 2004 11:22 pm (UTC)
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Allow me to butt in on what appears to be a fiercely personal sounding livejournal entry to say hello. :] Saw you posting in the Ohio Pagan Community, yr bio is pretty rawkin' so i thought i'd be random and post. =^..^=
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 28th, 2004 07:22 am (UTC)
(Link)
Random is never a bad thing. :) And as for "fiercely personal", everything I write is that way. Of course, it's not always so annoyingly melodramatic.

So, um, Hi! Swing by my webpage for a fuller picture of who I am. The Essays section is probably most enlightening.

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