Thursday, July 7, 2011

Now, you tell me.

It has taken you some considerable time to articulate what drew you to story in the first place.  Never mind that you had begun to burn up available sources to the point where you were given free rein in the Principal's bookshelves when you were at Hancock Park Grammar School; that was the result, not the cause.  You hadn't the skills to question much less identify the why of it.

Now, some equally considerable time later, you have more the sense of the why.  Reality, even at your earliest ventures into it, was always so fraught with detail, implication, choice, potential for disappointment, greater potential yet for misunderstanding.  At such an age, radio was the only medium available to you on a daily basis.  One movie a week, which at the time meant a double feature with an installment of a serial and a cartoon (although Wile E. Coyote had not come along yet).  Thus it was easy for you to conclude that Aimee Semple Macpherson was an actress, much as the constant star of radio drama, Mercedes McCambridge.  It was your mother who introduced you to the difference between the two, the former being an evangelist, the latter an accomplished actor.  It was also your mother who, in her way, introduced you to nuance when she told you that there were persons who would not take it well were they to hear you referring to Aimee as an actor.  They might think, she said, that you were being disrespectful on purpose.  Although she never used the term "smartass"to describe purposeful, it was not long before others did because even then you were a smartass; sometimes you simply didn't realize it.

Story was of profound interest to you because--ah, now you see it--of the way it kept the focus on interest.  Also, story kept the boring and predictable incidents out of Reality.  With story, you need never be overwhelmed by the fraught nature of Reality, much of which did not concern you, even greater amounts of which did not interest you.  Funny how once your interest in girls became more pronounced, you had even more reason to read; but that is another conversation.

The essential nature of this conversation is the way story keeps the details and activity and responses relevant, simply ignoring the slower and denser pace of Reality.

Story offers life as it ought to be, a welcomed anodyne to life as it is.  Story offers us a haven, a retreat from the mundane, the ordinary. Story forces the focus on the miraculous inherent in the small things about us, the gestures, the relationships, the lives.  Story is celebration; Reality is fraught.

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