Julia and I arrived safely home from our musical journey out to the Midwest. We are very grateful to the friends and family who supported us along the way. As we rolled along we began listening to The Globe, a collaboration between Terry Pratchett (surprise, surprise) and professor Ian Stwart and Dr. Jack Cohen. In the book there is a scientific comparison between Discworld, which runs on magic, and our world, which is run by the laws of nature and a little of what the book colorfully calls “narrativium”. Narrativium is the narrative that human beings weave into stories that can cause things to occur.
For example, the laws of nature “seem to forbid an earthbound object suddenly leaping up and landing on the Moon. That is not to say it won’t happen, only that you’d have to wait a very, very long time before it did. ‘These objects are on the Moon because centuries ago people told stories about it. First, she was a goddess and when full could turn men into werewolves. Then it changed into being another world. Nevertheless, there are several things on the Moon that came from Earth.’”
“Stories said that by harnessing swans or spheres containing dew men could fly there.” * Later, Jules Verne wrote a story about a giant gun in Florida that could fire a hollow cylinder to the moon. These stories drove us to essentially fire a hollow cylinder from Florida to the moon in 1969.
Our original flip phones were fashioned after Star Trek communicators; technology especially seems to be driven by narrativium.
Becoming aware of narrativium can help us. We are telling stories to ourselves and each other all the time and are not aware of how powerful these stories are in motivating our actions and molding our reality. Negative stories keep us mired to a constrictive reality while the stories that fill us with expanded bliss open the door to opportunities for manifestation.
Dr. David Hawkings in his book Letting Go points out that even during The Great Depression there were people that did not buy into the collective story that everyone was broke and these individuals became or remained rich. If everyone around you is sick, you don’t have to buy into that story either.
We see how the story of marriage equality has manifested itself. Perhaps awareness of narrativium in our lives can help us shift our focus from fear to manifesting a story where human rights and dignity are upheld as consistently as breathing.
May you know who you are within your tale.
*-taken from The Globe and a blog about it by Moonrouge at http://www.collectspace.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/004204.html
Julia and I rode around this weekend maintaining the balance between being inspiring and insipid, optimistic and pollyannaesque, we were assisted in our quest by listening to Stephen Briggs read Terry Pratchett’s novel Snuff.
Sir “Terry” Pratchett was a prolific humorist, who wrote mainly fantasy novels, especially about a Disc-world, which is a flat world held up by four elephants who are riding on a giant turtle’s back that is swimming through space. Although he also wrote for children, Sir Terry’s work offers adults ethics, wisdom, deep appreciation, and a poetic and philosophical perspective with a masterful comic wit. His book Snuff uses Goblins to personify the petty evils of racism and slavery. He champions women’s dignity and rights in Monstrous Regiment. He upholds the best of what it is to be human without the use of a soapbox, but with witches, blue tiny men with kilts and an array of more memorable characters than Dickens.
He published his first story at the age of 13, left school at 17 and became a journalist until his Disc-world fame allowed him to write full time. In his Who’s Who entry, he credited his education to Beaconsfield Public Library, where he read H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle and the like.
Towards the end of his life he developed Alzheimer’s disease, which he characterized as an “embuggerance”. He advised folks to “keep things cheerful”. Of himself he said, “We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism.” When he thought the condition was going to get much worse, he spoke out for assisted suicide, although he didn’t like the term; he was for going out with dignity.
Going out with dignity rather than suffering slowly is certainly something I support. And yet, he wanted to pull the curtain in 2009 and the book we just finished reading was published in 2011. Sir Terry, knighted in 2009, passed naturally last month on March 12. His last novel will be out in September and what it holds for us I feel was certainly worth him holding on for. His readers and I are grateful for his dedication, which brings a laughing light into the complexity of living.
May your week be something worth reading aloud when you come back to it in your mind.
“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”
“He will be much missed, but what a legacy of wit and good cheer he leaves us!”
Ursula Le Guin
“He wasn’t imagining an alternative universe; he was reimagining ours. His fantasies sit alongside – and are the equals of – those of Rabelais, Voltaire, Swift, Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams. He’s surely our most quotable writer after Shakespeare and Wilde. Granny Weatherwax’s definition of sin – “When you treat people as things” – is all you need to know about ethics.
Whereas all my beloved P G Wodehouses and Philip Pullmans are neatly arranged on the bookshelves, my Pratchetts are strewn under the beds, in the bathrooms, the glove compartments. They have shopping lists, takeaway orders and Scrabble scores scribbled on the fly leaves. They were part of life.”
Frank Cottrell Boyce
“Of all the writers I’ve read, Pratchett felt the most human. There was more truth in a single one of his humble satires than in a hundred volumes of poignant drama. Unlike most comedians—who use their humor like a weapon, always out for blood—Terry didn’t cut or bludgeon. He was far too clever for that. Instead, he’d slide down onto the bar stool beside us, drape his arm around us, and say something ridiculous, brilliant, and hilarious. Suddenly, the world would be a brighter place.
It wasn’t that he held back, or wasn’t—at times—biting. It’s just that he seemed to elevate every topic he touched, even when attacking it. He’d knock the pride and selfishness right out from underneath us, then—remarkably—we’d find ourselves able to stand without such things.
And we stood all the taller for it.
Sir Terry, you have my sincere thanks. I don’t think that, despite your many accolades, the world knows what it had in you.”
“The world has lost its bravest of knights.”
“Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. “
“The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.” –Terry Pratchett