Jan 16

I write stories. What is a story? It’s a narrative that we express to others, the content of which is meant to convey a certain sort of information. I say information, because it is a generic enough term to apply to something like ‘story’. Without any preconceived ideas, it would be logical to assume that stories told are true stories; that is, that we are relating a factual rendition of specific events as they happened in the past.

But is that the case? No doubt there are inspirational and true stories from out of the past, as innumerable as the human beings that populate the planet (each life, a tale of its own). But perhaps the truly immortal stories are those that never happened. When we relate content that is meant to appeal to certain emotions (love, sorrow, what have you), fictional tales are the ones we refer to.

I have a degree in history and one of the first things I noticed was that people do not easily remember history. Exact dates and events are recalled by rote memorization, a process that takes discipline and even science if we are to keep the record of history honest and objective.

People remember mythology. We all are familiar with the myths of the Greeks, the tragedies and comedies of Shakespeare. Even if we don’t consciously know the acutal tales, their influence pervades our society, informs our world by explaining it to us on terms that our souls as well as our minds find acceptable.

Obviously, fictional stories such as these (thought perhaps based on true events) are not meant to reflect historical events. But does that make them any lesss real? The story of Romeo and Juliet contains plenty of raw, emotional power-enough that it can evoke real reactions from its audience. The trials of Orestes can make us all feel the struggle of family obligation opposed to social religious observance. The emotions we feel are very real, the events we experience while reading the story of watching on the stage or in the film are no less for them being fictional. At this point, the story, like all real art, is cathartic, it encompasses, exagerrates and transcends the human condition for us, allowing a release without ourselves and an immersion in a space where all things-even contradictory ones-connect and make sense, if only for a brief moment.

Then, we are finished, and close the book or exit the theater, feet padding quietly on popcorn strewn carpet, absorbing what we have seen or read, and incorporating it into who we are, what we believe and how we see the world.

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