Monday, March 28, 2011

The World is Made of Stories


Reading and journaling are one of my spiritual practices, and I try to do both daily.

Picking up this book, I thought it would be a quick read. It's slim, and it's organized in short thoughts and quotes from others. But this book was a bit like taking the red pill in The Matrix - reading it I slipped into a different way of seeing things that was at times mind-blowing. Yes - this book was mind-blowing. I highly recommend it.

It also took me forever to read because I found so many passages I wanted to copy down into my journal. I do that with bits from books that really strike a chord with me - I copy them into my journal by hand. This practice helps me both keep that thought on record if I want to find it again later, and to more deeply process the thought in my own brain. I've always been the type of learner that did best by copying out things and then looking at them again in my own writing. (This is how I memorize stories to tell in church services).

So I found myself copying whole sections of this book - a task that made the actual reading of the book very slow. :)

Narrative is sometimes distinguished from rationality, mythos from logos. Yet reason is a storytelling style, a "second-order story", that needs a story to evaluate.
That we cannot get behind our stories is not idealism, which is a philosophical claim that the world is made of "mind-stuff" rather than "physical stuff". Idealism and materialism, like rationalism, are meta-stories: stories about stories.
We want to discover the master-story, the one true meta-story that includes and explains all other stories - but it's turtles all the way up too.
The biggest meta-stories are mostly religious: God, Brahman, the Tao. Such stories try to point at something that transcends stories. Yet a meta-story cannot get outside itself to explain the relationship between stories and that-which-is-outside-stories.
A Zen metaphor warns us not to take the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself, but "the moon itself" is also not the moon.

-- David R. Loy, The World is Made of Stories

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