Mapping lately

A never-published post from November 2011.

I was feeling poorly two weekends ago and didn't leave my bedroom much, so I decided to tell you about its walls, where I have been keeping track of some ideas and words I've been connecting. Topical mapping, I suppose. I didn't get to finish this post until now, though.

The north wall is the happening one lately. The theme is narration. The relationships between narration, past and present, self as subject, and on.

I want to know: the integrity of a life, of a person's experiences, how we find it. We want to understand it before we tell the story, but how can find that clarity without the process of telling the story?

We don't know how to find meaning outside of our conception of unidirectional time, which is to say, an objectified past, a past that we can act upon and master.

The process of narration, self-narration, in order to glimpse an in-process version of that integrity.

"The Puritan use of the spiritual journal to 'frame' life is a technique to forestall the incomprehension seemingly entailed by our 'continued existence,' to achieve some sense and articulation of a life's shape even as it is being formed — to see, if only through a glass darkly, something recognizably meaningful, something useful to us as we attempt to navigate the often troubled waters of experience" (Jacobs).

I realized that the word "journal" is from the Latin root of "diurnal." By the way.

Have you ever felt the grief of thinking, There is nothing story-like about this? "The clumsy and apparently meaningless bludgeoning of much of real misfortune and the prosaic littleness which usually rob real sorrows of their dignity..." (Lewis).

That clarity — an intense sense of integrity of experience, a certainty that "everything has been leading up to this" and an understanding of just how — you can take certain drugs to get that feeling. Isn't that weird?

I'm interested in the ways that we deal with and act upon the past, through retrospection and "re-vision": "the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction" (Rich). Interpretation and reinterpretation. Continuity versus rupture.

And the way the past acts on us. The "pastness of the past" and the persistence of the past (Persistence of Memory?), which, "of course, presses on the living from all sorts of directions and in any number of ways..." (Keane).

Shared narratives versus individual narratives, and what is lost and gained in dressing one's experiences in shared narratives. "[L]ocal social realities that cannot be fitted into any overarching narrative...without doing some violence to those realities" (Keane again).

Academically: I want to write a paper comparing second-wave feminist consciousness-raising with Protestant conversion narratives.

Personally: I think I am constantly retelling the stories of my life to myself, changing them a little bit each time so that the sense and coherency of them is constantly becoming more accurate. I need them to make sense. INTP drive for understanding combined with the INFP search for meaning. You know how we do.

- 11/27/11


Nicole 12/18/2013 12:51 AM  

This made so much sense/meaning to me that I'm not sure where to start. The last paragraph especially struck home. I think we have to keep re-telling our stories of ourselves partly to remember who we are but also to shape what we do and don't keep of the past/previous selves as the 'self' transmutes.

Holly 1/02/2014 9:43 PM  

Nicole - That feels very true to me!

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