Overheard, an item of happy hour flotsam: “I never read fiction. I’m only interested in the real world.”
Yeah, well. So you go ahead and tell me all about your ‘real world.’
Personality, culture, our realities themselves are narrative in structure. We and our worlds are stories we tell ourselves and each other, individually and collectively. This is something most people don’t understand. Reality is a social construct. Always. Once people do recognize this, even only tacitly, then the construction of social reality becomes big business, and you get advertising, public relations and politics all busily packaging and selling their worlds du jour. (See, for example, ‘Starbucks and the Social Construction of Reality.’)
Bottom line, there’s no clear distinction between a good novel and what people are pleased to call “reality.”
In the mood for spinning aphorisms, I give you this:
A person, a ‘self,’ is not a given, not some essentially static thing. A self is a process. More specifically, it is a composite narrative process.
(Also see ‘New You’s: Modular Commodification.’)
How can I say this? Because I know it’s true. (Let Trump be my witness, eh?) Besides which this is a blog post: it must be kept short and it must appeal to many who are attention deficient. Plus justifying it would be really hard work on a Sunday morning such as this one is.
Instead I’ll merely toss in an apposite quote, one that’s been lying idle on my hard drive:
“Entertainment is the main source of information for most people… and whoever tells all the stories will guide what we think and do as a civilization.”
– Geo. Gerbner, former dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, in “The Hard Sell”, by Deborah Baldwin, in Common Cause Magazine, reprinted in The Utne Reader, Jan./Feb. 1993.
And, if for some reason you want more along these lines, there’s ‘Realities and stories: Realities Are Stories.’