The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap. - Novalis

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The World is Made of Stories

I just noticed this title and it caught my attention for two reasons. First, because it is part of a phrase from Muriel Rukeyser that I've used a couple of times in my writings, and I discuss the idea in some recent essays. And second, the name of the author seemed familiar. I think I've run across his work elsewhere, but what comes to mind is the fact that he wrote the Afterword to D.T. Suzuki's Swedenborg: Buddha of the North. That book is of interest for several reasons including the fact that it helps link Henry Corbin and Suzuki in a way that was most unexpected when I first discovered it. It's been a while, but I remember Loy's essay was extremely helpful and interesting. David R. Loy is now a zen teacher with a very interesting list of publications and holds an appointment at Xavier University.

From the first chapter:

"If the world is made of stories, stories are not just stories. They teach us what is real, what is valuable, and what is possible. Without stories there is no way to engage with the world because there is no world, and no one to engage with it because there is no self.

The world is made of our accounts of it because we never grasp the world as it is in itself, apart from stories about it. We do not experience a world and then make up stories to understand it. Whenever we try to peel them all away, to discover the reality behind, whatever becomes exposed immediately transforms into story, like excavated artifacts that disintegrate as soon as uncovered.

The same is true of ourselves, but that is getting ahead of the story.

This is not to deny (or assert) that there is a world apart from our stories, only that we cannot understand anything without storying it. To understand is to story."

I find this completely admirable and suggests the way in which I have increasingly been reading Corbin's interpretation of the prophetic tradition. I think this may be a book worth reading and am willing to bet the $10 bucks that I'm right. Here is the publishers link: The World Is Made of Stories.

While I'm on the subject let me plug one of James Hillman's minor masterpieces, Healing Fiction, which makes the same kinds of argument in a different style.

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