Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Believable Fiction

Rambling, I know...

I've been working on this idea of narrative. The idea that we all carry around a story inside of us about who we are, what we do, and how we came to be the way we are. Some of it is true, and the gaps are filled in with fictions, fictions that meet certain needs.

I remember at a very, very young age being told by some adult that I was a shy young man. I remember distinctly the conflict I felt. No, I said, I was not shy. But the adult persisted, and I came to understand that even though I was not shy, if this adult, whom I trusted, said I was shy, then perhaps I should try to be shy. Yes, it seem ridiculous that a very young child would think this way, let alone be conscious enough to recognize this thought pattern. The diffidence of knowing you are one thing, but needing to be something else in order to match someone else's idea of who you are, or who you should be.

This speaks to a central theme of religion. Which when I have more time I'll write about.

But for today, I just wanted to say that while standing there peeing in the men's room, this thought came back to me. That we are at times called to "be" certain ways in order to fit others expectations of who they need us to be. I'll talk more about that at some point as well, but not now.

Today I want to take that idea and twist it just a little more, introspect some, if you will. I noticed that I need to "be" certain ways for myself in order to fit with my expectation of who I need to be. How strange is that?

I was standing there saying, OK now she did this and I did that and that reinforces this behavior, but if I focus on a little part of what she did, it not only reinforces the behavior, but it reinforces the narrative. She's mean, I'm good, the narrative holds.

The narrative is a fiction, a believable fiction that we tell ourselves about who we are, and how we got to where we are. And like so many stories, it needs to be taken down once in a while, and examined for what it is. So I'll talk about this more in a latter blog as well.

All of this Believable Fiction idea really struck me when a facebook friend posted a picture of a billboard. The billboard said "Contrary to popular belief I don't hate anyone who's gay", and it was "signed" by god. Well, OK, this speaks to believable fiction. When one group believes the fiction that god said, well anything really, but specifically that god hates gays, my recourse is to say that, well, that's a ridiculous fiction because god doesn't exist, and therefore can't "say" anything. So this statement is really advancing a political point of view held by someone who gains power by putting it out there. Likewise the repast, this contrary billboard, takes the god belief and just restates it to their political point of view.

In either case, both parties are trying to create a Believable Fiction, a fiction that meets their needs.

I'll write more about Believable Fictions and personal narratives in future posts.

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