Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why sometimes school makes sense

I was reading one of those boring scholarly articles for class the other day ("The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality" by Hayden White, if you're interested), when suddenly the dim blur of words in front of me sharpened into a stark contrast of black against white, and suddenly, yes, suddenly it all started to make sense. Because, you see, even though White was actually talking about Les Grandes Chroniques of medieval French literature, he could just as well have been talking, I decided, about blogging. Well! Finally, something I could relate to! Here, take a look for yourselves:

This value attached to narrativity in the representation of real events arises out of a desire to have real events display the coherence, integrity, fullness, and closure of an image of life that is and can only be imaginary. The notion that sequences of real events possess the formal attributes of the stories we tell about imaginary events could only have its origin in wishes, day-dreams, and reveries. Does the world really present itself to perception in the form of well-made stories, with central subjects, proper beginnings, middles, and ends, and a coherence that permits us to see "the end" in every beginning? Or does it present itself more in the forms that the annals and chronicles suggest, either as mere sequence without beginning or end or as sequences of beginnings that only terminate and never conclude? And does the world, even the social world, ever really come to us as already narrativized, already "speaking itself" from beyond the horizon of our capacity to make scientific sense of it?

What do you think? When we blog, or write, or tell stories about our own life, is it out of a desire to conform to some imaginary ideal that can never be more than a fantasy? Is reality ever as tidy as the stories we create about it? Does that make our stories, then, less "true?" And, what I'm particularly interested in knowing from you other bloggers: How has blogging changed your perspective of your own reality?


  1. wow-- THIS is brilliant! -- I just proposed a course for next year on the personal narrative and am absolutely going to hunt down this essay.

    Um, for myself-- I think blogging is storytelling, how we get through life sharing, and help-- I need encouragement. Do I think it is stylized? Absolutely. I believe once you begin storytelling in ANY fashion, a persona develops-- just as teachers standing in front of the class have a style-- what was it old Billy S said? We're all actors, non?

    I don't know about truth. I do know that the RESPONSE I have received to my posts has changed my perspective on my own life-- not my own journal entries, per se.

  2. im an inveterate liar so, yeah, i guess i agree.