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Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry

Megan: The Importance of Stories

I have been putting off writing this blog post for longer than I should have- distracted, ultimately, by all the things I would rather be doing. It’s not as if I do not enjoy philosophising immensely, far from it; it’s simply that I’d rather be writing other things at this particular moment in time.

And this got me thinking- About stories; about why I write them, about why I’d rather be writing them that writing this blog post, about why I find it easier to express myself when it’s not technically “myself” speaking. Because that’s odd, isn’t it? I’ve been working on a philosophy project this past week and we’ve been writing a series of stories- I’ve loved it. My story is from the perspective of a mother currently in jail, put there by her estranged son. I have nothing in common with her yet when I speak through her words I find myself able to describe all the feelings and emotions and ideas that I store inside myself. I can show people what I mean and they understand.

I never really understood the importance of stories to me, until I reached high school. It was then that I began re-reading recent stories and ancient stories and in each one, I saw my view of the world at the time.

We’ve been spending a lot of time in class lately discussing “reality”, and how all we can really base it off is what our senses perceive. And I agree, I guess. If I was writing this in a story, I could probably tell you my ideas exactly.

But this isn’t a story, this is just me talking, so I’ll try my best.

Anyways, I continued thinking about those ideas the rest of the week. I began to think about stories and I began to think about facts and I found it more and more difficult to decide which were more “real” or “important” or whatever you want to call it. Facts are what our senses tell us and what we can all agree upon as “true enough” (I won’t say entirely True because that’s a completely different issue). Stories are the way we interpret this information and tell it to others and ourselves, because isn’t anything a story if we put it into a sequence of words which makes sense? I realize there is a line between these two things, and it’s possible to say that the facts, before they are interpreted, are more important than the stories which emerge afterwards, but I disagree. It’s through telling these things to others that they gain meaning. Stories, not necessarily the made up ones which I was thinking of initially, are how we communicate with each other, it’s how we transfer ideas. The facts are only facts until they’ve been observed and internalized by a person and shared, because at that point they have changed- Perhaps only slightly, but they’ve changed to fit into that person’s head and that makes them unique. They’ve been put into a sequence including every other event that person has already lived through and they are no longer a single event to be viewed from a completely subjective point- They become part of a never ending story of that person’s life, and the lives of everyone they choose to share it with.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that reality may be based on facts, but facts are nothing without a person and a story to absorb them. I think that’s how we form our realities, and that is why we each have a slightly different version. No matter how much we may agree on what our eyes see and what our noses smell, it’s never identical to the person beside us, and to try to share it with them is to tell your story and they’ll tell theirs and we’ll all find a happy medium to entitle “Reality”.

So perhaps I don’t feel bad about finding it easier to communicate through stories. Perhaps I’m normal. Humans do it all the time, even when they don’t realize it. Life is a story. This blog post is a story of my thinking process this afternoon.

Characters and plot twists and magical lands are just embellishments.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Megan: The Importance of Stories

  1. You should never feel wrong/bad about communicating via stories.

    I find little that is absolute about reality or facts, they all are rooted in context, and are enmeshed with the stories we use to frame them.

    Your opening about writing and not expressing yourself reminded me of an interview I watched recently with Ray Bradbury where he said that his characters actually write his stories, and what he does is seek out those characters (and many of them emerge from his every day interactions). It was fascinating to hear him described his writing craft
    http://www.openculture.com/2012/08/ray_bradbury_the_things_that_you_love_should_be_things_that_you_do_books_teach_us_that.html

    Posted by Alan Levine (@cogdog) | September 24, 2012, 4:02 am
  2. Liked this post, but then I’m partial to narrative methodologies – so perhaps a bit biased. Nevertheless, worth re-iterating that every fact is a story and no story is neutral.

    Posted by Tobey Steeves (@symphily) | September 24, 2012, 5:22 am

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