Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fairy tale


Where am I?

I had everything clear in my head just now—wonderful lines that swept and swooped and slid across the page, but they’ve emerged chopped and broken. They clatter upon the page, clunkenly. 

This damned conspiracy doesn’t want me to succeed. It resists and hinders me. It swivels my head towards the window and glazes my eyes over. Window-gazing. Windows glazing. I’m turning into a zombie. No, foul spot, no! I need to finish my story during the day before the clock strikes midnight and I turn into a vampire. Forgive me if I sound a little rushed (or stoned) but if you’ve accompanied me this far you’ll understand.

I scramble back to our original point of departure.

“This is not her story,” wrote Douglas Adams, alluding to the Rickmansworth girl. I’ve since revealed that her story is mine—and yours too if you want a slice of the action.

But if time and opportunity are so limited, why do I bother with stories at all? Why not tell it to you straight—do an article, write a thesis, or take out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times? Isn’t a narrative just a work of fiction? Why spend all that time, you ask, on something that isn’t even factual? A good read is all a work of fiction can aspire to, surely.

Not so. According to John Michael Greer, stories are extremely powerful. He claims that they’re the tools we use to understand the world. Not only do they contain lessons and morals, but as myths they shape the way that we relate to our environment and to life itself. 

So don’t worry. This isn’t a narrative in the conventional sense. By attacking the larger philosophical questions, I’ll break down—seven with a single blow—the straw, stick and brick huts of our cosmology. And then, never fear, I’ll go on reconstruct the wreckage into a giant beanstalk that will win us the golden goose. How’s that for a Grimm day’s work? 

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