During a conference I attended this last weekend I overheard a conversation in which someone mentioned that we’re living in a War of Stories. Of course, my mind turned immediately to thoughts of the War depicted in “The God of Battles,” my second novel, which shows what such a war might look like if the “stories” were, in fact, living beings on another level of reality. Whether or not such a level of reality exists, the human collective “mindscape” acts as if it does. We see skirmishes, we see theft of the tools (“weapons”) used by stories to propagate themselves, and we see individual, courageous acts that defy these psychic juggernauts.
It’s easy to find individuals who appear to be the primary agents of the stories at war in our world, but appearances can be deceiving. Everyone, from those in high office to people in the streets, is an agent of at least one story, and we are all profoundly influenced by our narratives.
Another person commented on how surreal things had become and on how dreamlike the world felt (or, perhaps, nightmarish is the correct term?). This sense of disconnect with reality is a symptom of psychosis; are we experiencing cultural psychosis? Or can it be that one of the stories has triumphed over the others, and those of us who do not belong to the dominant narrative feel disconnected from reality as a result? Is there even a difference between these interpretations?
Now, more than ever, we all need to learn how to both defend ourselves from the weapons of this warfare and how to craft our own durable stories.
Finally, it may seem as if there is nothing that one may trust, no source of “truth.” The fact is, we’ve always had to exercise diligence in testing the validity of information coming to us. But now, most of the streams of information, the memes, belong to a dominant narrative that has alienated many of us, casting the need for discrimination in a sharper light. This is when we should all be more conscious of our choices of what to incorporate into our personal stories. Like my dad used to say, “Believe half of what you read and nothing of what you hear.”