Monday, January 18, 2010

Appropriateness Of Story

Can I tell a story not my own? The Politically Correct Post-Modern era seems to imply that I need to stay within my cultural bounds and out of other people's. But can I tell anything but another's story? My story is, of course, mundane to me because it is I who lived it. There is a pronounced duality between that and my love of hearing other people tell my story. But this era tells me to keep my nose out of other people's business while progressively taking away my privacy. This is the era of contradiction for the sake of not offending somebody. But by attempting to remain vanilla, we offend ourself, our basic nature as humans – we ignore our desires for individuality, recognition, and the observed truths of our lives in favor of a PC existence that avoids confrontation. Confrontation is good – it is the only way I learn. Like iron sharpens iron, so me arguing another becomes. Stereotypes come from somewhere and they are not the whole story. Must that be a contradiction? Do we have to completely deny stereotypes to tell the whole story, or must we ignore the story to tell the stereotypes? It seems writer's these days think so. I must tell another's story, because that is what is fresh to me, that is what is puzzling, and that is what is worthy of illumination in my own mind. And explaining the stereotypes are one way to get there. If you want to read it, feel free, but I intend to offend. It seems that on the one hand, without experiencing it I cannot fully communicate it, but on the other, I can explore it more, push its boundaries; by looking from the outside I see things those on the inside miss. But this does not deny needing a base understanding to work from. Research is key, but can overpower too easily. Dichotomies do not exist. It is how we work things together where the genius lies, where the making is.

Part 2: After talking to Matthew, of Matt's Motoblag, we came to a broader consensus concerning these brief thoughts. We related this back to War Stories, using the Historian to illuminate the quintessential person telling another's story.

1. There is a consistency of quality of the person telling their own story. Though it is often not great. Stories like We Were Soldier's Once, and Young are good, but the amatuer author falls into cliches too often. This is forgivable because we imagine the experience would start to define the cliche for the experienced, but it still saps potential power from the story for the reader.

2. The consistency of quality for the other telling a story is much more diverse, though there is a greater possibility for it being better. It could be better because: the writer is a writer, and as such, can write; the writer is outside of the situation, so is more likely to be writing only because the story interests them, which could make their writing more exciting all around, and usually leads to a broader depth of knowledge from research (Richard Rhodes is an amazing historian). But it could be worse, and often is, because the writer does not understand the minds of the experienced and, further, may just be trying to cash in on a passing fad, which generally turns out terribly.

3. For the writer telling another's story, the research base must be broad, but too much research can overwhelm a story.

Thanks Matt!

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