Thursday, November 25, 2004

Stories We Tell

I am now the Master of Alarm Clocks with three-- count 'em, three clocks surrounding my bed. Four if you count the one in my cell phone. 'Nuff said about that.

In the meantime, here's an interesting (though a bit old, circa 1998) essay by short-fiction spec-fic writer L.Timmel Duchamp that piqued my interest:

The stories individuals know how to tell help determine what kind of lives they can live. The range of the stories they know how to tell generally depend upon what kind of stories they are familiar with. They get their stories from all sorts of places, including fiction. For this reason, the shape of any story carries deep ideological significance.

Here, Duchamp notes that "how the lives people live are shaped by the way they tell stories about themselves to themselves as well as to other people."

She also makes a point about "happy ending" stories:

Now while the norm states that closure is "upbeat," I, on the contrary, feel no hope whatsoever when a story or book closes up seamlessly at the end; when I read such endings, I see the world and its possibilities as essentially the way I saw it before I read it. For me, if the protagonist's "problem" has been "solved" (or more likely banished), there can be no hope, since in our world the only hope is in positive, conscious struggle. The status quo (or, conversely, the arrival of a situation in which the character is wise and struggle is trivial or unnecessary) is about the most depressing way that I can think of to end any story. One might as well slaughter off all the characters. Such endings leave a bad taste in my mouth, and in cases where the story has been at all innovative or interesting, they feel dishonest (or "rigged-up"). A sizable fraction of the books I've read lately start out promisingly and then end, inexplicably, with so-called "upbeat" endings. Why bother, I wonder.

The essay has decidedly a feminist bent but still, it made me wonder about the stories I have to tell.

Wala lang.

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