We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It seems to me that stories confer value, or at least meaning, generally. Not just to objects. The brain is a creative machine, as Eric Kandel says. We indeed live in stories: stories about ourselves, our families, books, movies, songs, legends.
My work is all about stories. I rarely worry about objective truth during my workday unless I am concerned about being lied to. My concern is with psychic themes and subtexts.
In my non-work life, I care a lot about truth and rebel against self-serving "narratives" presented to me in advertising, by politicians, or anywhere else. As a shrink, I have a pretty good BS Detector.
In my field of study, work, and interest, the wonderful Roy Schafer made a major contribution to the field by highlighting the analytic attitude towards the patient's story. He noticed that the life story, and the day's story, changes as maturity and insight develop. Donald Spence's Narrative Truth And Historical Truth condenses many of these themes.
Politicians, activists, and the like have learned the power of narrative from the Psychoanalysts and the authors, and bent its power to the dark side. Propaganda no longer has simple big lies. Now it has whole stories which appeal to emotion for self-serving purposes, usually money, and/or power over others.
Propaganda, whether commercial or political, now appears as manufactured story-lines. "Truthiness," and all of that. Mark Twain: "A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."
The solipsistic fallacy is that there is no truth, just psychological truth. While that is often the Psychoanalytic approach to the soul and mind of a patient, when applied to the real world it becomes insane, and possibly dangerous.
And then, along comes a Gordian Knot cutter --who oddly does not operate in the future, but the past, and in a destructive way, by going back in time to waste all the time spent in the tying of the knot.
Do we exist without stories? I see self as a narrative, woven into our lives and psyches, which we revise and edit over time. It has a basis in truth, if not a foundation, and it's told by narrators both psychological and intellectual. We weave the tale, giving the self contours and significance in a world of contradiction and uncertainty, but we can lose the thread of the plot. Since we're capable of defending the self from difficulties with fiction, the narrative's basis in reality can be obscured. If we lose enough of the rational content of our narrative then it becomes a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. A variety of madness ensues.
Margaret Atwood: "...we know that people learn and assimilate information much more through stories than they do through charts and graphs and statistics. You might want to back up those things with the math. But what really hits people is the story because it’s not an intellectual thing and it’s not just a scream. It’s not pure emotion; it’s a melding of those two things, which is where we exist as human beings."
Next week I'm attending a panel discussion on why we tell stories. It's wonderful, but unsurprising, to find Maggie's posting on this subject. Bravo!