Post the First

I’ve decided to just make a first-post first post in order to relieve the first-post pressure. Hello. This is my first post!

Byron Katie, an extremely popular self-help guru, asks a question that I appreciate very much: “who would you be without your story?” Katie’s purpose is to get you to realize that the stories you tell aren’t “the truth” about the world, but I’m going to temporarily appropriate the question for a different purpose. People are storytellers, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to get people to stop telling stories. These stories may be constructed in order to explain events we observe, or they may be entirely invented, or they may be a mixture of both — but there is very little that can be said about humanity (or that humans say about anything else) that doesn’t involve stories in some way.

But I believe that stories have gotten a bad rap. They’re frequently seen as frivolous, wasteful, superfluous. Why would you read a novel when you could be reading a nonfiction book and learning something important? Why would you study literature when you could be doing something practical, like communications or finance?

So I’m going to talk to you about stories — specifically literature, although I may take a detour into other types of stories from time to time. I’m going to do it in a way that is, hopefully, non-academic. I’m going to talk about what they are and why they matter. I won’t be restricting myself to the English canon — there’s plenty to read about that anyway, if you’re so inclined. I’m going to write about what I find beautiful and compelling, in the hope that it will inspire you to think in new ways, read a little more, and maybe even create stories of your own.

I know it’s a tall order, but I’d love it if you’d join me.

(Oops, looks like I wrote a real post in spite of myself.)