Narrating, Not Writing Your Life (158)

In this episode Gregg takes up John’s challenge of episode #157 to to lay out exactly what Gregg meant in #157 by explaining that we all seek to “occupying the narrator’s position” in our own lives, and particularly what he meant by the idea of narrative identity (and why he believes that this way of formulating the matter is better than “writing” our own stories).

Gregg explains that “narrative identity” is the idea that human self-understanding comes from—and always produces—stories.  Also, our self-understanding is composed of 3 different elements because we experience life in (and through) time.

First, the events of our past, that really took place.  I call this one’s history.  Second, the story that we write about those past events, based on memory and outside information.  I call this one’s historiography.  Third, my own story about who I am and wish to be / become.  I call this simply, one’s story.  My story is informed my who I have understood myself to be in the past but is also in tension with this self-understanding, because I am not bound to the past.

So three elements: one’s history, one’s historiography, one’s story.  They are all related to each other but they are all, also, distinct.

An important distinction is that my historiography, while it involves creativity, is very much an exercise in truth-telling: recounting real things that really happened.  My story is less so.  Or more accurately, where it focuses on who I wish to be / become, my story is more closely related to the realm of “the possible”—to what could be.  In this sense, living and narrating my story is also an exercise in imagination.

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