Tuesday, September 13

manipulating narrativium

it's always cool when you can find little bits and pieces of the same idea scattered all over the internet in convenient, linkable snippets. thank you, Mr. Davies. that bookmarked quote you posted was a reminder of all these thoughts I needed to put together for this blogpost.

a few weeks ago, on my 900-mile drive across the deserts of Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, I kept myself awake and entertained with large doses of public radio. this was near the last week of august, when the news kept switching back and forth between a lot of american political blathering--in preparation for the presidential elections next year, I suppose--and the Libyan revolution. can you guess which was more exciting to hear about?

as I listened to all these journalists telling and re-telling and re-telling again the story of this far-away rebellion, spinning out small updates every few hours (the sizzling red rock of southern Utah turning bleached and muddy as I drove south into a desert lightning storm) and slanting toward new perspectives as new information came to light (the impossible emptiness between so many hazy New Mexican mesas baking stoically under all that cruel, cloudless blue), I started wondering.

these journalists, they're telling this story before it's finished. they're spinning this plot out of events that haven't reached a conclusion. the telling of the story is happening in almost the same moments the story itself is happening in. how does that influence the way it will end?

can the confidence of one journalist who really thinks those Libyan rebels are going to successfully take control and change the world... can that tip the scales? if reports of that success are being made before that journalist truly realizes exactly how not-over-yet the battle is... does that make presumed success more likely, even though there's still so much fighting to do?

I don't know. I just remember listening to all this, feeling as if I were hearing it as it happened, and noticing the story changing little by little every single time. the events in Libya, and new information about those events, changed the story. that's the way we're used to things going.

but there is also power in stories, even if it's only in your head. things that go on in your head tend to have at least a small effect on what goes on outside of your head. so as long as the story hasn't found its ending... maybe the way we're telling it can give it one.

2 comments:

Chris said...

And now, maybe your story about stories affecting reality makes it even more likely that your stories will affect your reality. Woah.

amelia said...

woah indeed.

how... circular.