Friday, 8 April 2011

The Narrative Imagination - Barbara Hardy

Drawn on literary narrative in order to bring out its affinity with the forms of everyday life, dreams and fantasy, lies and slander, bad and good gossip, affectionate telling and reticence.
We cannot take a step in life or literature without using an image. It is hard to take more than a step without narrating. Before we sleep at night we tell over to ourselves what we may also have told to others, the story of the past day.
We mingle truths and falsehoods, not always quite knowing where one blends into the other.
As we sleep we dream dreams from which we wake to remember, half remember and almost remember, in forms that may be dislocated, dilapidated or deviant but are recognizably narrative.
We begin the day by narrating to ourselves and probably to others our expectations, plans, desires, fantasies and intentions. The action in which the day is passed coexists with a reverie composed of the narrative revision and rehersals of past and future, and in this narrative too it is usually hard to make the distinction between real and fantasy.
We meet family, friends, intimates, acquaintances, strangers, and exchange stories, overtly and convertly. We may try to tell all, in true confession, or tell half-truths or lies, or refuse to do more than tell the story of the weather, the car, or the food.
Even when we try to escape narrative, as when we listen to music - we tend to lapse. Humankind cannot bear very much abstraction or discursive reasoning. The stories of our days and the stories in our days are joined in that autobiography we are all engaged in making and remaking, as long as we live, which we never complete, though we all know how it is going to end.