More Notes on Story

In terms of navigating and understanding the world we live in, few things are more important than the idea of story. Through the mechanism of story we piece together what we perceive as reality in terms of cause and effect. We are therefore part of a bigger story.

Story telling thus can give a supremely comprehensive picture of the world, and writers and artists and thinkers and scientists and philosophers have striven to bring to the world such a picture, with the full knowledge than storytelling can also equally be somewhat restricting. Why? If one, accidentally or otherwise, excludes information that contradicts or undermines our picture of the world or any aspect of it, then we can fall victim to error, fake news, or prejudice. As we are finite beings our ideas of how it is, of what’s the story, needs constantly to be updated, that is, until we die.

Sometimes we screen out what doesn’t fit into our notion of the story of the world, but facts take no prisoners. Reality has a way of crashing in, despite our most ardent denials. history is replete with examples of this.

We also can be given bad information, fed propaganda, inaccurate history, and total nonsense sometimes. The Buddhists have a saying: if you meet Buddha on the road, kill him. Its important to control ones own story, operate with a certain hermenutic of skepticism, be wary of agitprop, mass hysteria, and group think. Without falling into paranoia, skepticism is healthy. That being said, being open to new ideas keeps us traveling towards further truths.

Story, as a fundamental technology for mediating meaning, is hardwired into our brains. It is coded into our everyday consciousness as we pick up new information, correct inaccurate information and rewrite the narrative of life from moment to moment. Using the blueprint of story, we discover who we are, what we want and where we are going.

Stories are made up events, internal or external, glued together by causes. We use language, signs and symbols to tell stories. We have done this from primordial times. From the walls of caves to space age artificial intelligence, we are telling our story, rewriting, correcting, and gathering information to pint a picture of the universe.

Say, for instance, one day in future the story of the entire universe were discovered, on a drifting and abandoned space vessel from a distant future. There is, however, a problem. The scientific and philosophical community cries out in despair. No one knows what it all means, except that the science people are pretty sure here we have an answer to how we got here. The problem being these secrets were written in terms of exotic mathematical equations. What we have here is yet another language that would tell the story of what happened and how we all got here. The challenge is decoding and translating the language of these alien folks math/physics into comprehensible language. Then we would know the story of life in as much as each language is recursive into the other.

Until that day arrives, and we all hope it might, our knowledge of the world depends largely on people telling it how it is, truthfully, and realizing we all only have pieces of an infinitely complex puzzle. Thus we need each other to know the truth.

Story is universal, and our story of how it is is constantly being tested by reality, which it asymptotically approaches and drifts away from. How it is is constantly correcting how we see and determine our course in life and death. Being open to correction is thus a sign of sanity, maturity, wisdom, and involves having a very active sense of humor about things.