Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who's the Baddy?

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To look at this bunch, it all depends on whether you are Agatha Christie, Van Helsing, a Paranoid Westerner, James Bond, a Socialist, or Little Red Riding Hood.

But once you take on a particular viewpoint all the others become irrelevant. James Bond isn’t going to worry about a wolf; Agatha Christie would never say that the Vampire did it; the Socialist will probably see the Butler as an example of the oppressive class structure we ought to be tearing down, rather than the murderer of 1920s detective novels.

Admittedly Van Helsing might be eyeing up the Wolf as another supernatural being, but would most likely view the Muslim as a knowledgeable Mystic from the East instead of the potential terrorist of the Paranoid Westerner.

The story we are in, or the Narrative we occupy at any one time (and we are constantly moving between many different ones), dictates how we view, filter and interact with the world around us – who we see as allies, enemies or just an irrelevance. The Narratives also shape our own roles – whether we see ourselves as the hero, sidekick, the misunderstood outsider, or in any one of a number of other positions.

But these Narratives in which we exist; these Narratives that fundamentally manipulate our experience of the world - were they created by us, for our benefit, or were they created by other people with other agendas?

Who is writing yours?
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23 comments:

gimme a minute said...

Dr Seuss. And I wish he'd stop.

Charlie said...

were they created by us, for our benefit, or were they created by other people with other agendas?

I say all of the above. During childhood our Narrative, as you call it, is created by others—adults in authority like parents, teachers, clergy, etc. Our Narrative is also influenced by social mores, or Common Sense. The media creates us: books, art, films, and music, as well as the traditional news media.

It is up to us, then, to filter what we believe is either useful to us or harmful to us. We accept some things as true and others as false, or somewhere in-between true and false.

By adding all these outside influences to our basic personality I believe we are creating our own Narrative—which is constantly subject to change as we continue to filter outside influences.

Kim Ayres said...

Gimme - :)

Charlie - true, true... Apart from the common sense bit - that rarely influences anyone.

And the up to us bit implies we know what's going on and can make an informed choice. The most powerful influences are the ones we don't even notice.

Charlie said...

Some clarification. Common Sense, capitalized, is what society as a whole deems acceptable or non-acceptable—murder, for example. Commonsense, however, whether or not we know enough to come in out of the rain—and few people have it.

I don't think we ever have enough information to make an informed choice; we make choices based on the information we have at the time.

Examples of powerful influences we don't even notice?

Sandy said...

Even when you realise you can write your own narrative there's always somebody there to correct your spelling and grammar and score out big lumps with a red pen and inserting little bits of there own and then you find if you jump straight into your newly discovered own narrative it all looks terribly disjointed of a sudden.

Sandy

Eryl Shields said...

JJ Abrams, I'd say is writing mine.

Sayre said...

Sometimes glasses help. I thought the Vampire was a Nun until I put mine on.

Hopefully most people write their points of view with their glasses ON.

Binty said...

Dunno, but I'd rather you took over...

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

Don't we try our best to put ourselves in narratives most conducive to our natures though? There must be some personal agency, no?

Personally, I see my Narrative as The Plumber in ActIII scene 2.

Conan Drumm said...

The question of 'I' and narrative authority/responsibility in our lives is akin to 'the chicken and the egg' question. There is no answer, only points of view.

Tom said...

In my list of books that have influenced the way I see the world is Peter Berger's "Ways of Seeing." I think it's brilliant little book.

So, oh wise b'stard, is there a way out of the hermeneutical circle or are we damned to endless interpretations build upon endless interpretations? :)

Tom said...

Make that "John Berger." Peter Berger wrote The Social Construction of Reality. Of course, there's always just plain burger, slathered with ketchup. Ouch. Too early for humor.

MikeP said...

If it's all just narratives, [and history is written by the victors,] then wouldn't you have to say there exists no such thing as evil in the world--just protagonists and antagonists, labeled as such by the narrators?

I mean, is that what you are getting at? You believe there is no god, but equally there can be no devil either?

Carole said...

Of the choices you presented the wolf looks the safest. Perhaps because he isn't human so I expect him to be who he is...a wolf. Humans on the other hand are a tricky lot...you never know regardless of what they appear to be.

I know this...it is a whole lot stinking harder to write your own Narrative than to just go with the flow and let other people write it. It takes actually thinking, changing, growing, and becoming...without excuse making to write your own Narrative and I don't like it one bit. On the other hand in the dark of the night when no one else is around, I want my Narrative to be different so I trudge on. Trying to remove the scalpel marks of early religious training, violent parenting, peer rejection, and media programming with the chisels of my own choice. I am not sure it is attainable, but perhaps...

Kim Ayres said...

Charlie - Most of the most powerful influences are the ones laid down in childhood, before we realise we can actually challenge them. However, much of the education system is about teaching us to listen and obey rather than develop independent thought.

The idea of Narratives is that they are like self contained stories, each with their own set of accepted rules and boundaries. So if you are watching a James Bond movie, then any well dressed person with a scar is a villain, but you wouldn't expect a wolf to try and seduce a young girl.

We are constantly moving between different Narratives all the time, but we are so adept at it, we rarely realise it, unless we suddently have a clash. For example, how often has a joke seemed really funny with your mates after a few drinks, only to find it falls flat with your wife when you're sober? Different circumstances, different accepted rules.

The point I'm making really is that most of the Narratives we move through are not of our own making, but unless we question, we will not realise that our accepted ways of thinking are constructed for us.

Sandy - superb :) However, what you're doing at that point is accepting the Narrative of the Red Pen Warrior as superior to your own. But their's is just as much a human construct as your own

Eryl - sounds adventurous

Sayre - Vampires and Nuns... Now there's a whole new Narrative I could enjoy pondering...

Binty - in which case, you need to get Part 5 of the next Blunt Cogs strip completed

Sam - I'm not sure that we necessarily try to put ourselves in the best Narratives - if we have self esteem or self loathing problems we are far more likely to create Narratives that reinforce these negative feelings.

By the way, you may see yourself as The Plumber, but to me you'll forever be The Seagull Trapper

Conan Drumm - absolutely - everything is point of view. However, every point of view is a manmade construct too. Once we realise that, we no longer HAVE to accept the constructs forced on us.

Tom - if we can create new Narratives, we can filter the world in a way that makes our lives far more positive - we can become the people we would love to become rather than feeling we are doomed to be the person other people said we would be - Ketchup or not.

MikeP - Personally, as an athiest, I would say that's absolutely right. However, if your Dominant Narrative contains the notion of God, Devil, absolute forces of Good and Evil, then that will be equally as true for you. Your experience of the world will be framed by these notions. There is no way of me proving my interpretation is right and yours is wrong, or the other way round. That is part of the point - the Narrative is the truth, or creates the experience while you are in it. When you move into a different Narrative, that one then shapes your experience and interpretation of the world and events.

Carole - I think if we can create an ideal of who we want to be, then we can move towards becoming that person. The clearer we create the image in our heads and hearts, the more we programme our subconscious to filter the world to help us become that person. The more we do to shore up that Narrative, the stronger it will become. The more we behave in the way we want to become, the more the world will appear to feedback to us and give positive reinforcement. It might take years, it might take a lifetime, but how much better to spend our lives becoming the best person we would love to be, rather than living in dim contempt with the person we fear we are.

What kind of person would you love to be? Decide on the characteristics of the kind of person you would love to be. Create a strong image and feeling of that person. Know you can become that person.

The voices that tell you you cannot, or are not worthy to become this person you could love, are man made constructs. Narratives dictated by other people with agendas to suit their lives rather than yours, and you don't have to accept what they say.

You can become the person you would love, respect and enjoy being.

It won't happen overnight, but what else were you planning on doing with your life... :)

TheAmpuT said...

I feel like I have written my own narrative, but that the plot of my life is something I would never in a million years have come up with on my own.
So that makes my bad guy (let's call him/her) "Circumstance"...or as the writer who must develop the story out of the plot that was given her, it might make me my own bad guy. Or a shitty writer. Or both LOL.

Mary Witzl said...

There was a point when I realized that I had to write my own narrative and not try to squeeze into ones that didn't work for me. And yet even now I sometimes catch myself slacking off and not thinking things out for myself. I am independent but with a tendency to be lazy, an awful combination.

Speaking of nuns and vampires, when I first looked at that picture, I thought it was a nun too. I've got to start wearing my glasses all the time, too...

savannah said...

i think of my life as an evolving movie pitch, sugar. a working girl takes joe to the volcano with a secrets and lies crusty but benign lead harry met sally kind of twist ;-)

Kim Ayres said...

TheAmpuT - sack the author and get another one

Mary - we need to create our Narrative not once, but a thousand times and keep reinforcing it. Otherwise it's too easy to accept the ones other people give us

Savannah - The actor's to play us in ther movie of our life evolve too. Both Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt - what I would have thought were the obvious choices - are both in fact older than me

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

Ah, I see, and you're right, Kim. Some sad stories get told way, way too many times.

The Birdwatcher said...

Actually the butler rarely did it. They were often suspected but in the end they did not (were not creditied with having)have the necessary feelings that would make them want to murder someone. After all they knew their place. As we all do.

Archivalist said...

I think my wife is writing mine, but I'll have to get back to you on that.

Kim Ayres said...

Sam - It's finding the balance - some sad tales need telling in order to place them in a context so we can move on, but countless retellings with no movement can just reinforce the Narrative

Birdwatcher - that's as may be, but I never turn my back on my butler...

Archivalist - :)