“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One more thing, ahem

Gay Talese, at the below mentioned conference, said something that irritated me. It wasn’t his fault, really – the zeitgeist filled his mouth. He said he considered himself a story-teller. He said everybody has a story. He gestured ecumenically and said, there are hundreds of stories in this room.

Excuse me, but I can’t fucking stand this holy gargling around the word story. In truth, we don’t all have stories at all. Mostly, we have rumors. We are rumors to ourselves. Countless times, I have heard a person with whom I shared experience x tell a third party about x and censor, distort, exaggerate, and in general leave such a patchwork impression of the experience as might be admired by an old Marseillaise street of gossiping fishwives. And that isn’t even going into the major flaws with logic and continuity by which one sequence fits into the other in the ‘story’ of one’s life, as told by the lucky auto in the autobiography. Janet Malcolm made the point long ago in her book, In the Freud Archives, that those who really do live as though they were in a novel are those who most need psychoanalysis. To have a prayer of living a normal life, these folks need to be reduced to bearers of their own rumor. Then they can be safely ensconced in the suburbs.

Now, at one time, LI would have taken the kneejerk stance that it is far better to live as though in a novel than to live as though in some ADD fantasy. We would have claimed that psycho-therapy is the white magic of white magic. But LI has mellowed. LI thinks that it is all too easy and irresponsible to urge the wounded to go into battle. I suspect my own living-in-my-movie has done me a lot of harm: made me less loving and loved, lonelier, less powerful, less generous.

So: no romantic stance here for LI, no climbing the battlements. But I am saying: enough already with the story bullshit.

Stories cost. Stories exact a large price. Stories take the pound of flesh just for an entrée. The cutsification of the story is absurd – like trying to make a pet out of a river born parasitic worm that lays its eggs in the human brain.


Vermin Direct, LLC said...

At Vermin Direct, LLC, we try to provide life-related content narratives for people who need to outsource their stories. We're thinking about branching into providing personalities too, for people who may be too busy to develop their own. You'd be surprised, Roger, by the number of people who were effectively blank slates before we helped them develop their brand. Bespoke, or off the shelf, Vermin Direct, LLC can do it.

new york pervert said...

Oh, pul-leaze!

Miss Malcolm had to go to the psychiatrist because she didn't know how to live in a movie, the fool jealous bitch--and I'm sure said that about the suburbs because she lives in one even if it's 'in town.'

Well, this is a hilarious fucked-up post, though, and should definitely interest the management of Vermin Direct, LLC. They know you've got the stuff.

amie said...

so per Mr. Talese, everyone has a story. were it so simple!
methinks Mr.T hasn't tripped over Odradek coming down the stairs. or been accosted by The Unameable while enjoying a tall cold one at Le Falstaff.
...perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens,...

roger said...

Amie, surely Kafka himself was fascinated by the lines in Virgil's Aeneid describing rumor ("whose life is speed, whose going givers her force" in Book 4:

"Timid and small at first, she soon lifts up
her body in the air. She stalks the ground;
her head is hidden in the clouds. Provoked
to anger at the gods, her mother Earth
gave birth to her, last come - they say - as sister
to Coeus and Enceladus; fast-footed
and lithe of wing, she is a terrifying
enormous monster with as many feathers
as she has sleepless eyes beneath each feather
(amazingly), as many sounding tongues
and mouths, and raises up as many ears.
Between the earth and skies she flies by night,
screeching across the darkness, and she never
closes her eyes in gentle sleep."

Now, that is something wild, ain't it.

amie said...

LI, wild is putting it mildly, yikes! wouldn't be surprised if Fox News sues Virgil for defamation!

as for Kafka, you know quite well that he was more than fascinated by 'rumor'. what's that wonderful passage where he writes that given the choice between being a king or the kings messenger, everyone chooses to be a messenger...

amie said...

LI, wild is putting it mildly, yikes! wouldn't be surprised if Fox News sues Virgil for defamation!

as for Kafka, you know quite well that he was more than fascinated by 'rumor'.
"They were given the chance of becoming kings or the kings' messengers. As is the way with children, they all wanted to be messengers. That is why there are only messengers, racing through the world and, since there are no kings, calling out to each other the messages have now become meaningless. They would gladly put an end to their miserable life, but they do not dare to do so because of their oath of loyalty".