Now Cough

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Deception of Narrative

I struggle everyday with the false reality created by story archs: the push to make events and news and life understandable (a method of coping with chaos) in the context of telling tales.

Newscasts are one filter for this false structure. They start with hard news and end with the kicker. On almost any newscast today the natural tragedy of Peru's horrible earthquake is paired with the man-made murder of the bombings in Iraq(yesterday, or any day) and then we end, all tucked in, with the engagement of Jenna Bush.

This arch -- bad, hard news, but we end with a smile or an 'Awwww...' -- brings a structure to the world that it doesn't deserve.

Two years after Katrina, a new hurricane is forming in the Atlantic. The statement from the White House today is not about that, but about a wedding. A bombing in Iraq kills about as many people as nature did last night in Peru. Man cannot grasp the devastation or respond to stop either, apparently. In the end, those in New Orleans, those in Iraq, those in Peru and even Jenna Bush---you're on your own.

That's the way it is.

Is there a story that captures this? No. Is this too dark? I don't think so. I think the siutation is one of chaos and uncertainty. No order at all. In fact, no narrative that can accurately capture the real randomness.

Maybe this is why myths and religion are comforting. They offer tales and structure to help explain the chaos. And, perhaps, news is as much myth as information. Order, where there is none. But an order to help us grasp the craziness of it all.

The mind can only take too much reality.


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