Wednesday, May 19, 2010

part 3: Life is Narrative


Mental Vigour part 3: Life as narrative


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Life as Narrative

                To enjoy art you must be willing to breath water. The fantastic world is another element, one must lose himself to it if he is to be taken in, otherwise, his eyes are critical like an alien’s eyes are critical: disliking because he knows not how to engage. But what he takes from art must be in turn dissolved into his own life.

            Lives are structured like narratives: the plot of the novel is the same stuff as the biography. The primordial plotline features a hero struggling for his goals. Every story resolves to this final spine. Ditto our lives. Since each man holds a limited amount of mental energy per lifetime, gaining or losing it, perhaps, by circumstance and the habits he forms, it follows that there must be a maximum use of his energy, which, when played against the chance of daily surprise, is best achieved through a general plotline. The basic plot of his life should be driven by a main overall purpose, to fuse his many goals and subordinate them. Like running a river through a woods, to water all life, yet not waste it in swamp and weeds, a tangible plan, like a staff through sand, must set the river in direction.

            We can focus on only a little at a time; therefore we ought to use symbols to fuse our goals into a purpose, for the symbol will make tangible the ethereal purpose. What we call a purpose for our lives is the name for what is important to it, and the highest name men have given for importance is “divine,” and “God” – indeed, the safest definition of God for theologians would be “the most important being.” Well as Allists, we take the All-form as the most important being, and take our lives to reflect the All: we aim to align our metaphysics and our biography.

            This is what the major religions have been up to from the beginning, this is how they market themselves: they sell a story about the big picture, a “metanarrative” or overall view, which the individuals participate with by following the ordinances of the religion. In this way, their lives borrow a relative importance insofar as they align them with the values of the religion. As all such “all-forms” “Gods” and “metanarratives” are fantastic, and apply to the imagination, the part of the mind that looks at what has not been experienced, the fantasy space, it could be well said that the greatest meanings of mankind are fantastic. We could not say they are illusory, since their purpose is to orient a life to fulfill its greatest needs – and this all religions have succeeded at. The theological poets have ruled the minds of man the longest, and their fables have swayed the public imagination even wider than art, which is too often elitist, noble, and proud, reducing its appeal to the intellectuals and the refined.

            A good story subordinates every new instance, so that once a man has chosen a style of consciousness, and a basic attitude towards obstacles, he is fated to live a certain sort of life. The greatest aspects of his story are the symbol he chooses for his purpose, and the attitudes he adopts to achieve this purpose. Note also that the conscious purpose of a man’s life is often only seeming so, and that the actual purposes of his actions speak better through the general outcomes of his adventures: we cannot cheat our feat for long, but gain what we secretly seek, whatever a crooked mouth may profess.

            Verbal consciousness, the habits that subordinate experiences into meanings, the grammar of thought, mature in adulthood into a definite style of speaking and writing. This style is based on some trick of perception, which, once guessed, would render the man completely predictable, if his style were not also self-conscious in the form of a personality, for a personality is a self-conscious style. The most effective way for it to be self-conscious, is to imagine how others view it, by watching them respond to it. In this way, a man avoids losing status and appeal through being predictable by subtly hiding his trick of style and instigating a brash of surprise often enough in to his talk to stun the careful analyst.

            And so this verbal self-consciousness we call the personality of the person, or the “me-myself,” should empower the will to narrate its own preemptive autobiography. We ought to plan our life into a story. In this way we will reinforce our habits into the power of a few meta-habits, and thus maximize our power. If all our goals and whims can be recruited into practice towards a greater mastery, we need not regret our daily caprice. We can subordinate the folly of daily life into the happiness of a life-long wisdom. Power holds pith in all life’s materials, we need only to digest it.

            Developing a personal mythology, featuring the general archetype of ourself, will orient us and place us in a greater scheme. And the more we do this according to private storylines rather than prefabricated roles in the world religions, the more our energy will work to glorify and empower ourselves, rather then the fantasies of others. Let each man be his own God.


Daniel Christopher June










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