Wednesday, April 18, 2007

From The Brains of Others

It's a breezy, bluesy day here in small-town America. We've done the errand running thing today, and I'm hoping the afternoon will be filled with peaceful house straightening, new flower planting (yay!), and at least a solid hour of novel writing.

I'm a bit tired, which I can blame directly on Neil...he brought home the first season of Lost last night and we both stayed up too late watching the first few episodes. I've never seen any of the show and wasn't sure that I'd like it...but it's just so intriguing. Three and a half (I fell asleep) episodes in, I want to know what happens to these people. And why there's a polar bear in the jungle. And what in the world that mysterious monstrous creature is...

Anyway, since my own brain seems to be full of randomness, I figure I'll share with you a few interesting quotes that have challenged me lately...

"And know this: whenever you find yourself writing a single word or phrase or page dutifully and with boredom, then leave it out. Something is wrong. It is dragged in. It isn't your true self talking." ~Brenda Ueland

Also from Brenda Ueland - "For in fiction, Chekhov said, you can pose a question (about poverty, morality, or whatever it is) but you must not answer it. As soon as you answer it, the readers know you are lying, ie forcing your characters to prove something."

And this interesting view of story in our lives...
"You're given a mythology in this life, the way you're given a body, a family, a country. You can reject it if you like - starve it, laugh in its face, run away into exile - but it's still your mythology. There's always the chance of redemption." ~Ariel Gore, from The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show

To elaborate just a bit on the quote on's part of the expanded definition provided by Wikipedia: Myths are narratives about divine or heroic beings, arranged in a coherent system, passed down traditionally, and linked to the spiritual or religious life of a community, endorsed by rulers or priests. Once this link to the spiritual leadership of society is broken, they lose their mythological qualities and become folktales or fairy tales. In folkloristics, which is concerned with the study of both secular and sacred narratives, a myth also derives some of its power from being more than a simple "tale", by comprising an archetypical quality of "truth".

Looking at life in 'story' terms is appealing to me...maybe because my entire life, one way or another has been inundated in language, in the arcs of messages. Reading, obviously, brought me into this way of thinking...but I also attribute it to the years listening to my grandfathers and my dad preaching...the Bible, in itself, is a hugely taken for granted literary resource. And when ministers use it to convey some message - it's a powerful thing. Jesus Himself used parables to get ideas across to people - something in us, innately, responds to stories.
So do we each have our own mythology, our own story? I think so. Here are a few more quotes, taken from the pages of The Sacred Romance, that say exactly what I wish to say about all of this.

"We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have characters." ~Eugene Peterson

"Our loss of confidence in a larger story is the reason we demand instant gratification. We need a sense of being alive now, for now is all we have. Without a past that was planned for us and a future that waits for us, we are trapped in the present. There's not enough room for our souls in the present." ~John Eldridge, Brent Curtis

On scripture, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen "...or do you see scripture as being a cosmic drama - creation, fall, redemption, future hope - dramatic narratives that you can apply to all areas of life?"

Frederick Buechner ~ "It is a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight. It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things, too. It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusions and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily ever after, and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name...That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still."

And a final note by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge that explains the importance of sharing both our personal experiences and those stories simmering in the crock-pot of our brains...

"It becomes crucial that we become a generation of storytellers who are both recapturing the glory and joy of the Sacred Romance even as we tell each other our particular stories, so that we can help each other, through God's spirit, see His plan of redemption at work in us."


Anonymous said...

wow,just a few?LOL

Greg said...

some real depth of thought in all of that...just finished 'sacred romance'. profound.. huge. thanks for sharing on here