Rejecting Story Creation in Life

It is very much mainstream thinking these days that during our lives, we create our own stories. We should feel free to make these stories more engaging. After all, that is all that will be left of us after it is all over. The assumption is that living this way is in some way superior to not creating a living story.

Galen Strawson challenges this assumption. He argues that story based living is not a universal experience and should never be thought of that way. At least some people would prefer to live without piecing together the strands of their experiences into a grand or even less than grand narrative.

Galen is a philosopher and he poses his challenge on that level. I will think about it more in terms of strategic thinking. There is a point here — imposing a story on a series of events and trying to order future events around that story is dangerous. This  has blinded many people to the consequences of their actions. Images of the great and mighty in their “proud towers” just before the first world war come to mind.  They did not see the enormous consequences of the decisions that they took so casually. Those consequences did not fit into their story lines.

In other words, strategic thinking leaves open the possibility that our stories  do not fit reality as it unfolds. We test our assumptions rather than simply accept the story as it is.

At the same time, things do happen for reasons much of the time, if not all of the time. And if there are reasons for events, there is causation. And causation is the germ of story creation.

For many days, nothing happened. And then one day something happened. Why did it happen? No one was sure at the time. What did it mean? We would find out.

One relies on strategic thinking to cope in this setting. And for that reason, I would be cautious about turning off story based thinking as a life strategy.


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