19 December 2006

What are we without our stories?

“It might be said that each of us constructs and lives a ‘narrative’, and that this narrative is us, our identities.”
– Oliver Sacks, neurologist, author

Alfred Hitchcock is not only famous for his thrillers, the suspense and murder-mystery tales which are almost a film genre by themselves, but also for making mysterious appearances in his films. Clive Cussler, one of my favourite authors of adventure novels and creator of the hero Dirk Pitt, has an old-man character called ‘Clive Cussler’ making unexpected appearances in Clive Cussler’s (the author’s) novels.

Apart from the comic relief this brings in, I find this act of being a part of one’s own creation a fascinating subject. I mean, this is no autobiography, nor a self-portrait by a painter. A filmmaker and a writer are surreptitiously including themselves as characters in their fictional constructions. Are they doing this for fun? Are they trying to construct new identities for themselves? Are they trying to tell us that their narratives are not all fiction?

This had me thinking in a bit of (self-)inventive mood. Are we not all stories by ourselves? I mean, when we write our resumés for a job application or introduce ourselves at a dinner party or write a short profile on Blogger, are we not constructing stories of ourselves to create an impact or produce a desired result… much the same way a filmmaker or a writer would do during their creative process? And if this be true, are we not all individual stories of some kind?

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