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The stories never told

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From a book I am reading*:

He did a new thing with a new set of people every day of his life. And that made him just as different from the people in the traffic jam as I was.
So I looked with fascination at those people in their [cars]**, and tried to fathom what it would be like. Thousands of years ago, the work that people did had been broken down into jobs that were the same every day, in organisations where people were interchangeable parts. All of the story had been bled out of their lives. That was how it had to be; it was how you got a productive economy. But it would be easy to see a will at work behind this: not exactly an evil will, but a selfish will. The people who’d made the system thus were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at day’s end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Power That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories that had been made up to motivate them. People who couldn’t live without story had been driven [out]**. All others had to look somewhere outside of work for feeling that they were part of a story, which I guessed was why people were so concerned with sports, and with religion. How else could you see yourself as part of an adventure? Something with a beginning, middle, and end in which you played a significant part?

In other words, creating and living your own story means you have autonomy. And that is one thing that nobody working in a corporation, institution or another system has. And why in the New Year, it will be disruption management full blast for me…

*Neal Stephenson’s Anathem

**sci-fi terms replaced by their Earth equivalents.

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2 Responses to “The stories never told”


  1. Strother
    on Dec 21st, 2009
    @ 14:59 pm

    What a beautiful way to acknowledge poetry as the legislator of our lives. Stephenson brings the stereotypes of the housewife’s addiction to soap operas and the husband’s addiction to sports into focus.

    But rather than conscious corporate plot, I see a social will to this life-through-simulacra, or virtual experience. After all, we are our own corporations. We in the West have bred the will to live directly out of ourselves since it seems to be the one effective way we can keep from killing each other. After two world wars, can we blame ourselves?

    I say that as one who has insisted on living directly, writing my own illogical story without much of a plot, to my detriment at times. Such people create suspicion and fear in the masses, which is mildly corrosive to both parties. Still, there is no other way to “live” in my book, all the way until I die.

    You go, girl, with that disruption management and breathe life back into the corporate world.


  2. Adriana
    on Dec 21st, 2009
    @ 15:08 pm

    Yes, one’s story may not have a plot set out beforehand… or that it is a logical plot. And indeed, that is scary to those who need the logic in order to exert more control.

    As for breathing life back into the corporate world – I am thinking more of the people stuck in it, if the world falls, so be it.

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