Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Research note for an article, "Narrative" - quotations about narrative

image from

Note: I am doing research on the use (misuse?) of the mot du jour "narrative," in the past most associated with literature but now frequently proposed by inside-the-beltway international affairs "strategists" and military experts as a mental tool to be used in the ideological combat against foreign forces hostile to the United States.


A preliminary, very general conclusion from my looking at the below quotations:
"Narrative" is seen by the above-mentioned experts in the way devout, fundamentalist Christians consider parables as a way to present eternal truths to the ignorant and unconverted; or, if seen from a more secular perspective, as comforting/curing therapy -- by providing an intellectual/emotional organizing framework -- to overcome our own phobias/the psychosis of our enemies, and more generally to surpass the anguish and disorder of the human condition in certain parts of the world -- and of our own minds(highlighted in green).


But the notion of "narrative" -- as a path to the truth of existence, as an artistic method that reflects "reality," or as a cure for the incertitudes of life (including, one may infer, in international affairs) -- has its critics, as quotations highlighted in blue suggest. 

"Quotes About Narrative,"
Quotes tagged as "narrative" (showing 1-30 of 138)
Douglas Adams
“There's always a moment when you start to fall out of love, whether it's with a person or an idea or a cause, even if it's one you only narrate to yourself years after the event: a tiny thing, a wrong word, a false note, which means that things can never be quite the same again.”
Roger Zelazny
“No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words.”
Charlotte Eriksson
“The stars are brilliant at this time of night
and I wander these streets like a ritual I don’t dare to break
for darling, the times are quite glorious.

I left him by the water’s edge,
still waving long after the ship was gone
and if someone would have screamed my name I wouldn’t have heard for I’ve said goodbye so many times in my short life that farewells are a muscular task and I’ve taught them well.
There’s a place by the side of the railway near the lake where I grew up and I used to go there to burry things and start anew.
I used to go there to say goodbye.
I was young and did not know many people but I had hidden things inside that I never dared to show and in silence I tried to kill them,
one way or the other,
leaving sin on my body
scrubbing tears off with salt
and I built my rituals in farewells.
Endings I still cling to.

So I go to the ocean to say goodbye.

He left that morning, the last words still echoing in my head
and though he said he’d come back one day I know a broken promise from a right one
for I have used them myself and there is no coming back.
Minds like ours are can’t be tamed and the price for freedom is the price we pay.

I turned away from the ocean
as not to fall for its plea
for it used to seduce and consume me
and there was this one night
a few years back and I was not yet accustomed to farewells
and just like now I stood waving long after the ship was gone.
But I was younger then and easily fooled
and the ocean was deep and dark and blue
and I took my shoes off to let the water freeze my bones.
I waded until I could no longer walk and it was too cold to swim but still I kept on walking at the bottom of the sea for I could not tell the difference between the ocean and the lack of someone I loved and I had not yet learned how the task of moving on is as necessary as survival.

Then days passed by and I spent them with my work
and now I’m writing letters I will never dare to send.
But there is this one day every year or so
when the burden gets too heavy
and I collect my belongings I no longer need
and make my way to the ocean to burn and drown and start anew
and it is quite wonderful, setting fire to my chains and flames on written words
and I stand there, starring deep into the heat until they’re all gone.
Nothing left to hold me back.

You kissed me that morning as if you’d never done it before and never would again and now I write another letter that I will never dare to send, collecting memories of loss
like chains wrapped around my veins,
and if you see a fire from the shore tonight
it’s my chains going up in flames.

The time of moon i quite glorious.
We could have been so glorious.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
Umberto Eco
“To read fiction means to play a game by which we give sense to the immensity of things that happened, are happening, or will happen in the actual world. By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something true about the world. This is the consoling function of narrative — the reason people tell stories, and have told stories from the beginning of time.”
J.R.R. Tolkien
“Human stories are practically always about one thing, really, aren't they? Death. The inevitability of death. . .
. . . (quoting an obituary) 'There is no such thing as a natural death. Nothing that ever happens to man is natural, since his presence calls the whole world into question. All men must die, but for every man his death is an accident, and even if he knows it he would sense to it an unjustifiable violation.' Well, you may agree with the words or not, but those are the key spring of The Lord Of The Rings”
Jeanette Winterson
“Truth for anyone is a very complex thing. For a writer, what you leave out says as much as those things you include. What lies beyond the margin of the text? The photographer frames the shot; writers frame their world. Mrs Winterson objected to what I had put in, but it seemed to me that what I had left out was the story’s silent twin. There are so many things that we can’t say, because they are too painful. We hope that the things we can say will soothe the rest, or appease it in some way. Stories are compensatory. The world is unfair, unjust, unknowable, out of control. When we tell a story we exercise control, but in such a way as to leave a gap, an opening. It is a version, but never the final one. And perhaps we hope that the silences will be heard by someone else, and the story can continue, can be retold. When we write we offer the silence as much as the story. Words are the part of silence that can be spoken. Mrs Winterson would have preferred it if I had been silent.

Do you remember the story of Philomel who is raped and then has her tongue ripped out by the rapist so that she can never tell? I believe in fiction and the power of stories because that way we speak in tongues. We are not silenced. All of us, when in deep trauma, find we hesitate, we stammer; there are long pauses in our speech. The thing is stuck. We get our language back through the language of others. We can turn to the poem. We can open the book. Somebody has been there for us and deep-dived the words. I needed words because unhappy families are conspiracies of silence. The one who breaks the silence is never forgiven. He or she has to learn to forgive him or herself.”
Isaac Babel
“A well-thought-out story doesn’t need to resemble real life. Life itself tries with all its might to resemble a well-crafted story.”
― Isaac Babel 
William Goldman
“The Princess Bride
S. Morgenstern's
Classic Tale of True Love
and High Adventure

You had to admire a guy who called his own new book a classic before it was published and anyone had a chance to read it.”
― William GoldmanThe Princess Bride
Vera Nazarian
“All stories have a curious and even dangerous power. They are manifestations of truth -- yours and mine. And truth is all at once the most wonderful yet terrifying thing in the world, which makes it nearly impossible to handle. It is such a great responsibility that it's best not to tell a story at all unless you know you can do it right. You must be very careful, or without knowing it you can change the world.”
Refaat Alareer
“Sometimes a homeland becomes a tale. We love the story because it is about our homeland and we love our homeland even more because of the story.”
“The history of Science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other.”
― John William DraperHistory of the Conflict Between Religion and Science
Jeffrey Eugenides
“Reading a novel after reading semiotic theory was like jogging empty-handed after jogging with hand weights. What exquisite guilt she felt, wickedly enjoying narrative! Madeleine felt safe with a nineteenth century novel. There were going to be people in it. Something was going to happen to them in a place resembling the world. Then too there were lots of weddings in Wharton and Austen. There were all kinds of irresistible gloomy men.”
― Jeffrey EugenidesThe Marriage Plot
Charles  de Lint
“Music’s the soundtrack of my life and has been since I was a teenager. There’s always music. If I’m not playing it, I’m listening to it. With my writing…sometimes it inspires a story, sometimes it highlights something I’m working on, sometimes it simply helps me stay in the narrative mood.”
― Charles de Lint
Terry Tempest Williams
“What other species now require of us is our attention. Otherwise, we are entering a narrative of disappearing intelligences.”
― Terry Tempest WilliamsFinding Beauty in a Broken World
Javier Marías
“...and yet the idea is hard to accept, it's so hard to succeed in making something happen, even what's been decided on and planned out, not even the will of a god seems forceful enough to manage it, if our own will is made in its semblance. It may be, rather, that nothing is ever unmixed and the thirst for totality is never quenched, perhaps because it is a false yearning. Nothing is whole or of a single piece, everything is fractured and evenomed, veins of peace run through the body of war and hatred insinuates itself into love and compassion, there is truce amid the quagmire of bullets and a bullet amid the revelries, nothing can bear to be unique or prevail or be dominant and everything needs fissures and cracks, needs it negation at the same time as its existence. And nothing is known with certainty and everything is told figuratively.”
Gertrude Stein
“I think one is naturally impressed by anything having a beginning a middle and an ending when one is beginning writing and that it is a natural thing because when one is emerging from adolescence, which is really when one first begins writing one feels that one would not have been one emerging from adolescence if there had not been a beginning and a middle and an ending to anything.”
― Gertrude SteinNarration: Four Lectures by Gertrude Stein
Gilles Deleuze
“The historical fact is that cinema was constituted as such by becoming narrative, by presenting a story, and by rejecting its other possible directions. The approximation which follows is that, from that point, the sequences of images and even each image, a single shot, are assimilated to propositions or rather oral utterances [...].”
― Gilles DeleuzeCinema 2: The Time-Image
James W. Sire
“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundations on which we live and more and have our being.”
Annette Simmons
“It is safe to assume that any individual or group you wish to influence has access to more wisdom than they currently use. It is also safe to assume that they also have considerably more facts than they can process effectively. Giving them even more facts adds to the wrong pile. They don't need more facts. They need help finding their wisdom. Contrary to popular belief, bad decisions are rarely made because people don't have all the facts.”
Alexandra Katehakis
“Are you repeating someone else's narrative, taking it for granted? Talk therapy sessions and 12-step recovery shares help develop the ability to present a coherent life narrative through the safe structure of clear rules of communication that support healthy self-expression and self-awareness.”
Lydia Davis
“We all have an ongoing narrative inside our heads, the narrative that is spoken aloud if a friend asks a question. That narrative feels deeply natural to me. We also hang on to scraps of dialogue. Our memories don’t usually serve us up whole scenes complete with dialogue. So I suppose I’m saying that I like to work from what a character is likely to remember, from a more interior place.”
― Lydia Davis
W.H. Auden
“Drama is based on the Mistake. I think someone is my friend when he really is my enemy, that I am free to marry a woman when in fact she is my mother, that this person is a chambermaid when it is a young nobleman in disguise, that this well-dressed young man is rich when he is really a penniless adventurer, or that if I do this such and such a result will follow when in fact it results in something very different. All good drama has two movements, first the making of the mistake, then the discovery that it was a mistake.”
Neil Postman
“The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement. The opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth (Niels Bohr)." By this, he means that we require a larger reading of the human past, of our relations with each other, the universe and God, a retelling of our older tales to encompass many truths and to let us grow with change.”
Don DeLillo
“It's my contention that each book creates its own structure and its own length. I've written three or four slim books. It may be that the next novel is a big one, but I don't know.”
― Don DeLillo
Carlos Fuentes
“The novel is the privileged vehicle of two ways of being: narrative and freedom: to be new (novel) in a speech open to all, and to be free in a speech that never concludes.
Ursula K. Le Guin
“The social function of narrative is not limited to 'primitive' people sitting around the fire telling each other where Fire came from and why they're sitting around it.”
Angie Klink
“December 29, 1946: Snowing this morning. The year seems to be dying in a light white blanket. Only three more days of this year, then comes a new one. Then, what? No one knows.
-- Diary of Bertha Kate Gaddis who passed away 6 months later, age 78, West Lafayette, IN.”
― Angie KlinkDivided Paths, Common Ground: The Story of Mary Matthews and Lella Gaddis, Pioneering Purdue Women Who Introduced Science into the Home
“[I]ndividual readers may conceivably choose (or be led) to regard a given text as literary in cases where such a response is not shared by others, but until their individual responses lose their idiosyncratic nature by being adopted by a larger interpretive community, such responses will be regarded as being to a greater or lesser degree aberrant, and the offender will be regarded as lacking in good taste or good sense or both.”
“one of the central themes associated with developing a sense of authenticity involves inventing plausible narratives of self. For instance, Charles Taylor (1992) argues that the modern desire for authenticity is often prompted by a feeling that our life is shattered and it is difficult, if not impossible, to piece our life together in a meaningful way. He suggests that reclaiming authenticity would entail the provision of a space where we can once again craft coherent narratives that bind our life together.”
Quotes tagged as "narrative" (showing 31-60 of 138)
Ken Liu
“I don't pay much attention to the distinction between fantasy and science fiction–or between “genre” and “mainstream” for that matter. For me, all fiction is about prizing the logic of metaphors-which is the logic of narratives in general–over reality, which is irreducibly random and senseless.

We spend our entire lives trying to tell stories about ourselves–they’re the essence of memory. It is how we make living in this unfeeling accidental universe tolerable. That we call such a tendency “the narrative fallacy” doesn’t mean it doesn’t also touch upon some aspect of the truth.

Some stories simply literalize their metaphors a bit more explicitly.”

― Ken LiuThe Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
Italo Calvino
“A child's pleasure in listening to stories lies partly in waiting for things he expects to be repeated: situations, phrases, formulas. Just as in poems and songs the rhymes help to create the rhythm, so in prose narrative there are events that rhyme.”
Catherynne M. Valente
“As you might expect, the geographical location of the capital of Fairyland is fickle and has a rather short temper. I'm afraid the whole thing moves around according to the needs of narrative.'

September put her persimmon down in the long grass. 'What in the world does that mean?'

'I ... I SUSPECT it means that if we ACT like the kind of folk who would find a Fairy city whilst on various adventures involving tricksters, magical shoes, and hooliganism, it will come to us.'

September blinked. 'Is that how things are done here?'

'Isn't that how they're done in your world?'

September thought for a long moment. She thought of how children who acted politely were often treated as good and trustworthy, even if they pulled your hair and made fun of your name when grownups weren't around. She thought of how her father acted like a soldier, strict and plain and organized -- and how the army came for him. She thought of how her mother acted strong and happy even when she was sad, and so no one offered to help her, to make casseroles or watch September after school or come over for gin rummy and tea. And she thought of how she had acted just like a child in a story about Fairyland, discontent and complaining, and how the Green Wind had come for her, too.

'I suppose that is how things are done in my world. It's hard to see it, though, on the other side.”

Joe Hill
“Fuck narrative elegance.”
Alister E. McGrath
“Christianity tells a big story. It allows us to see our own story in a new way.”
Mokokoma Mokhonoana
“It is usually unbearably painful to read a book by an author who knows way less than you do, unless the book is a novel.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
tags: acceptableaccomplishmentaccountaccountsadeptnessadmissibleagonyaphorismaphorisms,aphoristaphoristsappreciationapprehensionauthorauthorsawarenessbe-acquainted-withbe-conversant-withbe-familiar-withbe-up-to-speed-onbe-versed-inbenightedbookbooksbrookable,capabilitycapacitycognitioncognizancecommandcomprehendcomprehensionconsciousness,cultivatedcultureddesolationdespairdiscomfortdistresseducatededucationendurableenlightened,entertainentertainingentertainmenteruditeeruditionescapeescapismessayessaysexpertise,expertnessfictionfunnygraspgriefhave-a-grasp-ofhave-knowledge-ofhave-learnedhave-mastered,have-memorizedheartacheheartbreakhilarioushumorhumoroushumourignoranceignorantilliterate,inexperiencedinsufferableinsupportableintolerablejokejokesknowknowledgableknowledge,knowledgeablelearnedlearningliteratureman-of-lettersmanageablemasterymen-of-lettersmisery,narrativenarrativesnonfictionnoveloverpoweringpainperceptionproficiencyquotationsquotes,realizationsadnesssatirescholarlyscholarshipschoolingskillsorrowstoriesstorysufferablesuffering,supportablesustainabletolerabletoo-muchtormenttortureunacceptableunbearableunderstand,understandinguneducatedunendurableunenlightenedunhappinessuninformedunknowledgeable,unlearnedunletteredunmanageableunreadunschooledunsophisticateduntaughtuntraineduntutored,unworldlyvia-dolorosawell-educatedwell-informedwell-readwisdomwoman-of-letterswomen-of-letterswretchednesswriterwriters
“The Christian story, centered as it is on the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the only story for making sense of desire and loss.”
Italo Calvino
“The real protagonist of the story, however, is the magic ring, because it is the movements of the ring that determine those of the characters and because it is the ring that establishes the relationships between them. Around the magic object there forms a kind of force field that is in fact the territory of the story itself. We might say that the magic object is an outward and visible sign that reveals the connection between people or between events. . . We might even say that in a narrative any object is always magic.”
Eugene H. Peterson
“Without stories we end up with stereotypes -- a flat earth with flat cardboard figures that have no texture or depth, no INTERIOR.”
Alister E. McGrath
“Lewis wanted us to understand that the inner world is shaped by stories.”
Rick Perlstein
“Stories are "how we organize the chaos of experience into the order we require just a carry-on." Joan Gideon”
― Rick Perlstein
Harold Holzer
“We need to know not only what is done but what is purposed and said by those who shape the destines of states and realms." Horace Greeley”
― Harold HolzerLincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion
Harold Holzer
“The press-savy Lincoln looked not to the future, but to the past.”
― Harold HolzerLincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion
“As anyone who has experienced it will know, war is many contradictory things. There is brutality and heroism, comedy and tragedy, friendship, hate, love and boredom. War is absurd yet fundamental, despicable yet beguiling, unfair yet with its own strange logic. Rarely are people 'back home' exposed to these contradictions — society tends only to highlight those qualities it needs, to construct its own particular narrative.”
Rick Perlstein
“Presidents are also always storytellers, purveyors of useful national mythologies.”
“Narrative understanding is a large part of the ability to connect with, understand, and have compassion for all of us engaged in learning more about being human.”
“Like many men who experience fatherhood relatively late in life, Martin Luther was a devoted parent. Luther wrote his children letters of touching intensity, patiently converting the joys of the Christian life into a language of storytelling fit for the very young. A home with children brought out the best in Luther in a way that theological disputation patently did not.”
Walter Isaacson
“Henry Luce to his Time magazine writers: "Tell the history of our time through the people who make it.”
― Walter IsaacsonAmerican Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane
“In liminal space, one meets the unknown, the marginalized, the synchronistic, the other, the unconscious edge of one's former narratives. At this point, the possibility to try out new narratives, to reframe one's story, becomes critical. Through narratives of participation the center of gravity shifts from fear and defensiveness to curiosity, creativity, and celebration. One begins to take a stand to validate one own's affects and doubts while at the same time interrogating them. The effect of such a shift is that the area of questioning about the self, the world, and the use of narrative language begins to widen noticeably. We can no longer assume there will be an outcome of homogeneous accounts through dialogue. The frames of narratives of participation anticipate heterogeneity rather than accord.”
Bessel A. van der Kolk
“Memories of traumatic experiences may not be primarily retrieved as narratives. Our own and others’ research has suggested that PTSD traumatized people’s difficulties with putting memories into words are reflected in actual changes in brain activity.
(van der Kolk, Hopper & Osterman, 2001)
Trauma and Cognitive Science, Chapter 1”
― Bessel A. van der Kolk
“Real philosophy is dense, impenetrable, so esoteric as to be unknown and so obscure as to be irrelevant... Maybe what I do is trivial, the philosophical equivalent of a Big Mac and fries”
― Jacob M. Held
“It's the role of narrative to... bridge the gap between philosophy as abstract theory, ideas in the ether, and life as lived on the ground.”
Catherynne M. Valente
“Any story told is a lie cunningly told to hide the real world from the poor bastards who live in it.”
“The principal advantage of narrative writing is that it assists us place our life experiences in a storytelling template. The act of strict examination forces us to select and organize our past. Narration provides an explanatory framework. Human beings often claim to understand events when they manage to formulate a coherent story or narrative explaining what factors caused a specific incident to occur. Stories assist the human mind to remember and make decisions based on informative stories. Narrative writing also prompts periods of intense reflection that leads to more writing that is ruminative. Contemplative actions call for us to track the conscious mind at work rendering an accounting of our weaknesses and our strengths, folly and wisdom.”
Sherry Turkle
“Discovering an inner history requires listening – and often not to the first story told.”
“People naturally impose a narrative story-line upon their experiences. Autobiographical writing allows a person to cast their experiences into a narrative thread and organize their thoughts based not upon conjecture but with applied reason.”
Quotes tagged as "narrative" (showing 61-90 of 138)
Madeleine L'Engle
“Jesus was not a theologian. He was God who told stories.”
Cheryl Strayed
“I'd never had a mind for math. ... It was a logic that made little sense to me. In my perception, the world wasn't a graph or a formula or an equation. It was a story.”
Kurt Vonnegut
“There isn't any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at once.”
Chinua Achebe
“In the end I began to understand. There is such a thing as absolute power over narrative. Those who secure this privilege for themselves can arrange stories about others pretty much where, and as, they like. Just as in corrupt, totalitarian regimes, those who exercise power over others can do anything.”
Rebecca Solnit
“That thing we call a place is the intersection of many changing forces passing through, whirling around, mixing, dissolving, and exploding in a fixed location. To write about a place is to acknowledge that phenomena often treated separately—ecology, democracy, culture, storytelling, urban design, individual life histories and collective endeavors—coexist. They coexist geographically, spatially, in place, and to understand a place is to engage with braided narratives and sue generous explorations.”
Carol Ann Duffy
“Poetry, above all, is a series of intense moments - its power is not in narrative. I'm not dealing with facts, I'm dealing with emotion.”
N.D. Wilson
“We are narrative creatures, and we need narrative nourishment—narrative catechisms.”
“I'm lying, yes, but why do you force me to give a linear explanation; linear explanations are almost always lies.”
― Elena Ferrante
Steven Hall
“There’s no way to really preserve a person when they’ve gone and that’s because whatever you write down it’s not the truth, it’s just a story. Stories are all we’re ever left with in our head or on paper: clever narratives put together from selected facts, legends, well edited tall tales with us in the starring roles”
Virginia Woolf
“Let us not take it for granted that life exists more in what is commonly thought big than in what is commonly thought small.”
― Virginia Woolf
“As the language areas of the left hemisphere enter their sensitive period during the middle of the second year of life, grammatical language in the left integrates with the interpersonal and prosodic elements of communication already well developed in the right. As the cortical language centers mature, words are joined together to make sentences and can be used to express increasingly complex ideas flavored with emotion. As the frontal cortex continues to expand and connect with more neural networks, memory improves and a sense of time slowly emerges and autobiographical memory begins to connect the self with places and events, within and across time. The emerging narratives begin to organize the nascent sense of self and become the bedrock of our sense of self in interpersonal and physical space”
Gregory Benford
“Remembering a narrative alters it.”
N.T. Wright
“Tell someone to do something, and you change their life–for a day; tell someone a story and you change their life.”
David Mitchell
“The Buried Bishop’s a gridlocked scrum, an all-you-can-eat of youth: ‘Stephen Hawking and the Dalai Lama, right; they posit a unified truth’; short denim skirts, Gap and Next shirts, Kurt Cobain cardigans, black Levi’s; ‘Did you see that oversexed pig by the loos, undressing me with his eyes?’; that song by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl booms in my diaphragm and knees; ‘Like, my only charity shop bargains were headlice, scabies, and fleas’; a fug of hairspray, sweat and Lynx, Chanel No. 5, and smoke; well-tended teeth with zero fillings, revealed by the so-so joke — ‘Have you heard the news about Schrodinger’s Cat? It died today; wait — it didn’t, did, didn’t, did…’; high-volume discourse on who’s the best Bond … Sartre, Bart Simpson, Barthes’s myths; ‘Make mine a double’; George Michael’s stubble; ‘Like, music expired with the Smiths’; and futures all starry; fetal think-tankers, judges, and bankers…power and money, like Pooh Bear and honey, stick fast — I don’t knock it, it’s me; and speaking of loins, ‘Has anyone told you you look like Demi Moore from Ghost?’; roses are red and violets are blue, I’ve a surplus of butter and Ness is warm toast.”
― David Mitchell
Amy Pascale
“But what clicked with Joss most of all was that Greenwalt was able to balance his edginess with an old-school approach to narrative. It was Greenwalt, Joss says, who was “constantly pulling us back to ‘But do we care about Buffy? But is Buffy in trouble?’” “We learned early on when we started writing that we’ve got to have the metaphor,” Greenwalt explains. After all, a storyline that’s just about a cool monster every week would quickly get old and predictable. “You’ve got to have the Buffy of it— what does it mean?”
Joan Didion
“Well, this whole question of how you work out the narrative is very mysterious. It's a good deal more arbitrary than most people who don't do it would ever believe.”
― Joan Didion
Javier Marías
“Everything becomes a story and ends up drifting about in the same sphere, and then it's hard to differentiate between what really happened and what is pure invention. Everything becomes a narrative and sounds fictitious even if it's true.”
“Writers use narratives to select from everything there is, and make contexts by putting the pieces into relation; that’s what writers do, they make contexts.”
Peter J. Leithart
“I believe we find imaginative satisfaction in stories that end with weddings because we live in a world that will end with a wedding. The Bible tells the story of history, a story that is mysteriously 'built into' the structure of our minds and practices, so that even writers who resist this story cannot help but leave traces of it—faint and distorted as they may be—on every page.”
Victor Hugo
“على أنه لم ينظر وراءه كما ذكرنا ، لأن البؤساء لا ينظرون وراءهم ، فهم يعلمون أن النحس يلازمهم ، وأن الشقاء يطاردهم.”
― Victr Hugo
“Berg was proud of his storytelling to the point where he collected stories about telling stories.”
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
“We want our children to know and believe the one good story. Every other story is a copy or shadow of this one. Some copies of it are quite good and shout the Truth. Others see only the faintest whisper of it, or, in its absence remind us of the Truth. We want our kids to know the one good story so well that when they see Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Frodo, Anne of Green Gables, Arielle, or Sleeping Beauty, they can recognize the strands of Truth and deception in them. Saturating our children in the one good story will enable them to discern Truth and error as it comes to them from the world.”
“An inclusive narrative structure provides the executive brain with the best template and strategy for the oversight and coordination of the functions of mind. A story well told, containing conflicts and resolutions, gestures and expressions, and thoughts flavored with emotion, connects people ad integrates neural networks”
“Reading stories forces us to exercise our empathy and imagination muscles, and that helps us conceive what the Bible depicts or demands, helps us connect with others, helps us illustrate what the text teaches, and helps us apply the text’s truths.”

Daniel Kahneman
“A compelling narrative fosters an illusion of inevitability.”
Haruki Murakami
“Is the narrative you now possess really and truly your own? Are your dreams really your own dreams? Might not they be someone else's visions that could sooner or later turn into nightmares?”
Donald Miller
“The reason stories have dramatic tension is because LIFE has dramatic tension.”
“During the second half of the twentieth century, cross-fertilization among the disciplines of history, literature, sociology, and psychology led to scholarly awareness that historical accounts are not direct representations of actual events; they are, instead, interpretations of the meaning of events and are thus impacted by authorial bias, cultural assumptions, and linguistic frameworks. Historical accounts are conveyed through structures of stories, or in other words through the medium of narrative. This conceptual shift calls into question the assumption that histories recount factual descriptions of real events while stories narrate the literary artifice of imagine events.”
Chris Matthews
“Anecdotes came with his DNA.”

“Or is anyone’s identity a matter of fragments held together by convenient or useful narrative, that in ordinary circumstances never reveals itself as a fiction? Or is it really a fiction?”
Oliver Sacks
“Very young children love and demand stories, and can understand complex matters presented as stories, when their powers of comprehending general concepts, paradigms, are almost nonexistent.”
Michael Paterniti
“In the end, it wasn't so much that there was an alternative narrative--there always was--but it came down to belief: Which one did you want to believe. Which one suited you best? Or, perhaps more to the point: Which one told the story you were already telling yourself?”
Julian Barnes
“You can't love someone without imaginative sympathy, without beginning to see the world from another point of view. You can't be a good lover, a good artist or a good politician without this capacity (you can get away with it, but that's not what I mean). Show me the tyrants who have been great lovers.”
― Julian BarnesA History of the World in 10½ Chapters
Jonah Berger
“People don't think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.”
― Jonah BergerContagious: Why Things Catch On
Jeanette Winterson
“The baby explodes into an unknown world that is only knowable through some kind of a story - of course that is how we all live, it's the narrative of our lives, but adoption drops you into the story after it has started. It's like reading a book with the first few pages missing. It's like arriving after curtain up. The feeling that something is missing never, ever leaves you - and it can't, and it shouldn't, because something IS missing. That isn't of its nature negative. The missing part, the missing past, can be an opening, not a void. It can be an entry as well as an exit. It is the fossil record, the imprint of another life, and although you can never have that life, your fingers trace the space where it might have been, and your fingers learn a kind of Braille.”
Ashim Shanker
“Never miss an opportunity to be truly and deeply humiliated! The shame will carve you down to an individual of exquisite layering, and in the process, etch within you the arcs of exceptional narrative.”
― Ashim ShankerSinew of the Social Species
Pat Conroy
“The most powerful words in English are, "Tell me a story.”
عصام منصور
“حتى شاعر النبي ( حسّان بن ثابت ) قال فى صاحبه ( و لى صاحب من بنى الشيصبان ... فطَورا أقول و طورًا هوه ) ، و بني ( الشيصبان ) من قبائل الجن ، يقصد أنهما يتناوبان على قول الشعر و الأبيات ، و كل هذا معروف للعرب، لكن تطور الزمن جعل الإيمان بالجن يضعف شيئا فشيئًا للأسف..”
― عصام منصورشيطان شعري
Samuel Beckett
“I don't know why I told this story. I could just as well have told another. Perhaps some other time I'll be able to tell another. Living souls, you will see how alike they are.”
Randy Ingermanson
“Readers don't want to read about somebody else having powerful emotions. . . . Readers want to become somebody else for a few hours, to live an exciting life, to find true love, to face down unimaginable terrors, to solve impossible puzzles, to feel a lightning jolt of adrenaline.”
― Randy IngermansonWriting Fiction for Dummies
Marcel Proust
“… it would even be inexact to say that I thought of those who read it as readers of my book. Because they were not, as I saw it, my readers. More exactly they were readers of themselves, my book being a sort of magnifying glass … by which I could give them the means to read within themselves.”
― Marcel ProustTime Regained
Eric Karpeles
“We want the author to give us answers when all he can do is give us desires.”
Martin Amis
“The trouble with life (the novelist will feel) is its amorphousness, its ridiculous fluidity. Look at it: thinly plotted, largely themeless, sentimental and ineluctably trite. The dialogue is poor, or at least violently uneven. The twists are either predictable or sensationalist. And it’s always the same beginning, and the same ending.”
“What monster sleeps in the deep of your story? You need a monster. Without a monster there is no story.”
Michel Butor
“Novel is a particular form of narrative./ And narrative is a phenomenon which extends considerably beyond the scope of literature; it is one of the essential constituents of our understanding of reality. From the time we begin to understand language until our death, we are perpetually surrounded by narratives, first of all in our family, then at school, then through our encounters with people and reading.
- The Novel as Research. (1968)”
“The Legend of Robert Halsey

This article examines the criminal conviction of Robert Halsey for sexually abusing two young boys on his school-van route near Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Halsey's name has been invoked by academics, journalists, and activists as the victim of the “witch hunt” in this country over child sexual abuse. Based on a comprehensive examination of the trial transcript, this article details the overwhelming evidence of guilt against Mr. Halsey. The credulous acceptance of the “false conviction” legend about Robert Halsey provides a case study in the techniques and tactics used to minimize and deny sexual abuse, while promoting a narrative about “ritual abuse” and “witch hunts” that apparently requires little or no factual basis. The second part of this article analyzes how the erroneous “false conviction” narrative about Robert Halsey was constructed and how it gained widespread acceptance. The Legend of Robert Halsey provides a cautionary tale about how easy it is to wrap even the guiltiest person in a cloak of righteous “witch hunt” claims. Cases identified as “false convictions” by defense lawyers and political activists deserve far greater scrutiny from the media and the public.
journal: Cheit, Ross E. "The Legend of Robert Halsey." Journal of child sexual abuse 9.3-4 (2002): 37-52.”
― Ross Cheit
William Zinsser
“One of underestimated tasks in nonfiction writing is to impose narrative shape on an unwieldy mass of material.”
Colm Tóibín
“There will always be reservations, things one must leave out, events one can’t explain without handing over a full map of one’s life, unfolding it, making clear that all the lines and contours stand for long days and nights when things were bad or good, or when things were too small to be described at all: when things just were. This is a life.”
Sara Sheridan
“The lively oral storytelling scene in Scots and Gaelic spills over into the majority English-speaking culture, imbuing it with a strong sense of narrative drive that is essential to the modern novel, screenplay and even non-fiction.”
― Sara Sheridan
Chuck Wendig
“Story should be a descent -- the feeling that there is an intense gravity to the narrative that draws you down, down, down.”
― Chuck Wendig
“The book argues that even though many cases have been held up as classic examples of modern American “witch hunts,” none of them fits that description. McMartin certainly comes close. But a careful examination of the evidence presented at trial demonstrates why, in my view, a reasonable juror could vote for conviction, as many did in this case. Other cases that have been painted as witch-hunts turn out to involve significant, even overwhelming, evidence of guilt. There are a few cases to the contrary, but even those are more complicated than the witch-hunt narrative allows. In short, there was not, by any reasonable measure, an epidemic of “witch hunts” in the 1980s. There were big mistakes made in how some cases were handled, particularly in the earliest years. But even in those years there were cases such as those of Frank Fuster and Kelly Michaels that, I believe, were based on substantial evidence but later unfairly maligned as having no evidentiary support.”
― Ross CheitThe Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children
“«Non tutte le parole sono precipitate al suolo» disse Lucio, trovando infine il coraggio di guardarmi negli occhi.
Mi sforzai di dire qualcosa. «No?»
«No» continuò, il volto ammorbidito. Era sollevato che avessi deciso di aprire bocca. «Sembra che alcune parole siano più pesanti di altre».”
“«Non è una frase genuina» protestai. «I mi spiace autentici sono di un rosa più tenue».
Arricciò le labbra. «Ma sono anche troppo fragili». Stando a quanto avevo letto, era vero. La rarità era dovuta anche alla loro fragilità. Era facile danneggiarli o distruggerli. «Quella è un'ottima copia» disse, indicandola con l'indice.”
― Roberto BommaritoParole
Helen Dunmore
“Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don't yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices."

[Ten rules for writing fiction (The Guardian, 20 February 2010)]”
― Helen Dunmore
“An undergraduate researching the "witch hunt" cases asked for evidence that there had been more than one hundred cases, noting that the major lists of such cases added up to about fifty. There was no reply that provided documentation to support the claim.[34] The members of the list were generally strong proponents of the witch-hunt narrative. They knew the answer to the question “Is there a child sex abuse witch hunt?” These “witch hunters,” as those on this list soon came to describe themselves, were increasingly activists who used the internet to exchange information and ideas. Jonathan Harris may have done more than anyone else to disseminate the witch-hunt narrative in the mid 1990s and beyond.[35]”
― Ross CheitThe Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children
“There are three points about stories: if told, they like to be heard; if heard, they like to be taken in; and if taken in, they like to be told.”
― Ciaran CarsonFishing for Amber
Don Roff
“Yeah, episodic doesn't work. Your coolest character needs something big and meaningful to do. Otherwise, well, it's just narrative shit.”
― Don Roff

“In my perception, the world wasn't a graph or formula or an equation. It was a story.”
John Scalzi
“Sooner or later the Narrative will come for each of us.”
― John ScalziRedshirts
Elmore Leonard
“I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
― Elmore Leonard
Diana Wynne Jones
“When I say "narrative", I do not mean simply the plot, I mean considerably more. Plots and their shapes--the bare outlines of stories--were something I know J.R.R. Tolkien himself was interested in. When I was an undergraduate, I went to a course of lectures he gave on the subject--at least, I think that was the subject, because Tolkien was all but inaudible. He evidently hated lecturing, and I suspect he also hated giving his thoughts away.”
Oliver Sacks
“The power of music, narrative and drama is of the greatest practical and theoretical importance. One may see this even in the case of idiots, with IQs below 20 and the extremest motor incompetence and bewilderment. Their uncouth movements may disappear in a moment with music and dancing—suddenly, with music, they know how to move. We see how the retarded, unable to perform fairly simple tasks involving perhaps four or five movements or procedures in sequence, can do these perfectly if they work to music—the sequence of movements they cannot hold as schemes being perfectly holdable as music, i.e. embedded in music. The same may be seen, very dramatically, in patients with severe frontal lobe damage and apraxia—an inability to do things, to retain the simplest motor sequences and programmes, even to walk, despite perfectly preserved intelligence in all other ways. This procedural defect, or motor idiocy, as one might call it, which completely defeats any ordinary system of rehabilitative instruction, vanishes at once if music is the instructor. All this, no doubt, is the rationale, or one of the rationales, of work songs.”
Richard Kearney
“If we possess narrative sympathy - enabling us to see the world from other's point of view - we cannot kill. If we do not, we cannot love.”
― Richard KearneyOn Stories
James K.A. Smith
“Whenever science attempts to legitimate itself, it is no longer scientific but narrative, appealing to an orienting myth that is not susceptible to scientific legitimation.”
“The ability to see our lives as stories and share those stories with others is at the core of what it means to be human. We use stories to order and make sense of our lives, to define who we are, even to construct our realities: this happened, then this happened, then this. I was, I am, I will be. We recount our dreams, narrate our days and organize our memories into stories we tell others and ourselves. As natural-born storytellers, we respond to others’ stories because they are deeply, intimately familiar.”
Jeanette Winterson
“Truth for anyone is a very complex thing. For a writer, what you leave out says as much as those things you include. What lies beyond the margin of the text? The photographer frames the shot; writers frame their world.”
― Jeanette WintersonWhy Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Salman Rushdie
“All men needed to hear their stories told. He was a man, but if he died without telling the story he would be something less than that, an albino cockroach, a louse. The dungeon did not udnerstand the idea of as tory. The dungeon was static, eternal, black and a story needed motion adn tiem and light. He felt his story slipping away from him, beocming inconsequential, ceasing to be. He has no story. There was no story. He was not a man. There was no man here. There was only the dungeon, and the slithering dark.”
Mikhail Bulgakov
“Everyone listened to this amusing narrative with great interest, and the moment that Behemoth concluded it, they all shouted in unison: 'Lies!”
― Mikhail BulgakovThe Master and Margarita
tags: liarliesnarrativestorytale
A.S. Byatt
“Narrative is one of the best intoxicants or tranquilisers.”
James K.A. Smith
“The question of the relation between modernity and postmodernity revolves around the issue of 'legitimation.' Modernity, then, appeals to science to legitimate its claim - and by 'science' we simply mean the notion of a universal, autonomous reason. Science, then, is opposed to narrative, which attempts not to prove its claims but rather to proclaim them within a story.”
James K.A. Smith
“Discipline is aimed at formation for a specific end, and that end is determined by our founding narrative.”
“Narratives are the primary way in which we make sense of our lives, as opposed to, for example schema,cognition, beliefs, constructs. Definition of narrative include the important element of giving meaning to events and experiences over time by connecting them as a developing, continuing story.”
― Jacqui Stedmon
“Public transit situates us so that we are given license to accept what's right in front of us, but will likely arouse our desire to compare our narrative to someone else's, to give ourselves permission to speculate upon a person's private space, or life, with no fear of recourse or punishment.”
― Julie WilsonSeen Reading
James K.A. Smith
“By calling into question the very ideal of a universal, autonomous reason (which was, in the Enlightenment, the basis for rejecting religious thought) and further demonstrating that all knowledge is grounded in narrative or myth, Lyotard relativizes (secular) philosophy's claim to autonomy and so grants the legitimacy of a philosophy that grounds itself in Christian faith. Previously such a distinctly Christian philosophy would have been exiled from the 'pure' arena of philosophy because of its 'infection' with bias and prejudice. Lyotard's critique, however, demonstrates that no philosophy - indeed, no knowledge - is untainted by prejudice or faith commitments. In this way the playing field is leveled, and new opportunities to voice a Christian philosophy are created. Thus Lyotard's postmodern critique of metanarratives, rather than being a formidable foe of Christian faith and thought, can in fact be enlisted as an ally in the construction of a Christian philosophy.”
Jincy Willett
“Too bad for the storytellers. Too bad for the sense makers, the apologists, that nothing, then or ever, nothing was inevitable. It's just too bad.”

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