There is a facebook group titled ‘Disney gave me false expectations of love.’ I may go a step further and start one called ‘Stories gave me false expectations of life’.
I believe the grand narratives are far from dead. Around us, in movies, tabloids and the multitude of stories we surround ourselves with, the grand narrative is strong. There are stories like ‘boy meets girl and finally they marry’ – or ‘good guys catch the bad guys’, or at least there is a mystery that then gets solved. Or even if it doesn’t get solved per se, there is some form of closure. These ‘memes’ or fragments of narrative are reiterated all around us. There are beginnings, endings, plots, protagonists, antagonists, inciting incidents that are woven together to stories.
Many people have unrealistic expectations of life due to this process – call it ‘narratization’ of life. We yearn for closure when there is a riddle. A change in life may be interpreted as a beginning, necessitating a plot. Something needs to happen! Take the severed limbs found in the sea in the West Coast of Canada. There is a story in there somewhere, but how to put it together? There is no antagonist, no clues, no motifs. The limbs keep showing up, which we in our narrativized minds interpret as ‘plot thickening’ – we desire to bring the fragments of limbs together just like we want to stitch up stories together, forcing a narrative on courses of life’s events.
There is a sense of being in control of life when you expose yourself to a story, neatly bundled in a beginning, end, and everything in between. Even as fragmented as the postmodern stories may be, the elements of the narrative are present, per definition, in a story – in a narration. The narratives purify us from a sense of randomness and meaninglessness inherent in life, and we’re hooked.
This yapping about narratives seems to be my preferred narrative. As it happens, I’ve already written a similar post a few years back. Oh well.