Once upon a time there were stories and these stories helped people make sense of things. These stories lived for a long time and got to be very very old. Some of the very first stories were from Arnhem Land and came in the form of songs. Those who sang these stories believed they were singing reality into existence. What is a rock before it is named a rock and given a story about how it came to be a rock? The answer: well, nothing at all really. Perception is everything.
Not all stories were to be taken as truth but all of them were there to help their audiences deal with reality. Stories were analogous and elastic. There were fables, cautionary tales, epic poems, and morality plays. Even when tragic, it was said these stories could purge the soul with pity and fear. These stories provided solace and guidance and held great power. This was noticed by certain people and the power of stories was harnessed and then everything changed.
New stories came to be. Rather than born of the communities to which they were applicable, these stories were constructed in laboratories by committees and sent out into the world. The new story teller was not the shaman or the seanachaí. The new story teller was the PR consultant and the behavioural psychologist. The new stories did not tell us how to live, instead they told us what to want and they told us who to hate. These stories did not sing, they scuttled. They scuttled all over the globe like cockroaches and the people of the world initially loved them but soon grew tired of them and then became disgusted by them. The people of the world went back to making up their own stories instead of listening to these new ones.
But there was a problem. The people of the world had been listening to the scuttling stories for a very very long time. The cockroaches had crawled in their ears and eaten away at the parts of their brains they used for making up stories and the cockroaches had laid eggs in there. The people of the world started making up their own stories of ‘truth’ but it was literal truth and it was absolute truth and it was not analogous or elastic or interpretable truth. And these new stories were full of confusion and loss and rage and they didn’t sing and they didn’t scuttle, they screamed. And these stories were screamed over and over and there were a great many of them and most of them were about how you could not trust the rest of them. And these stories went to war and none were on the same side and they donned armour and waved swords about the place, all over the place, and instead of singing reality into existence theses stories screamed reality into extinction. A rock was no longer a rock. A rock was a cover to an Illuminati passageway or a terrorist booby trap or an MI5 bugging device. A rock ceased to be a simple rock and became the source of great anxiety.
And then something awful happened. Something really awful happened. And no one knew why it happened or how it happened so they started to scream stories about why and how it happened and these stories clashed and clanged and clattered and the noise was unbearable and the noise went on and on and on and on until the human race lost its communal mind.
And that is the stories story and if you take my advice you’ll stop listening to stories for a while and if something happens, something really awful happens, cover your ears and listen to no stories and don’t even try to make up your own stories because you are fucking terrible at it because you have forgotten how. You are no story teller but a story will one day be told and you will be in it and we will all be in it and we better hope it has a happy ending.