Yesterday, I was writing a presentation and I made a straightforward typo. I think it's called a temporal error, just two letters typed in the wrong order. The word I was trying to write was 'destroyed' (the fact I was writing for the editor's society might evoke some concern at this point) ... but what I actually typed was 'destoryed'. And I looked at it. And had one of those moments where and idea autoloaded into the breech.
It said: these are really the same thing.
The connection came from a passage I remembered from Neal Stephenson's Anathem:
So I looked with fascination at those people in their mobes, 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 organizations 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 Powers 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.
And suddenly, I understood what makes people so desperate when they cannot be heard. Stories are how we relate to each other. How we connect, how we pass time: how we excite and scare and humour ourselves ... how we understand the maelstrom. Stories capture every nuance of human existence. SBS's catch phrase is Seven billion stories and counting, a direct equivalence to humanity.
Hence, destoryed = destroyed. Remove your story, and it is as if you never were. In the hard facts of reality, of course, that isn't true. But we probably feel as if it's true. Hence why grievances must be heard. Why secrets are hard to keep. Storytelling is compulsive, the interface to existence. Dendritic, and profound.
I was also reminded of another fab article on curses (the hex-y kind, not the swear-y kind). The best curses play on insecurity. And what could be better than No one will hear your story. So, no one will know you existed. You will never matter to anyone. You will make no impressions, leave no legacy. A life naught.
And all this because of story.
And so I thought ... so often we talk about stories that are rich, that are engaging, that have depth. But stories are us; they have those attributes from us.
So, if destorying is destroying ... then storytelling must be building, reconstructing, making new, making over, making better. Rendering something that matters. And so perhaps next time I have a hard time working out what a story is about, I'll come back to thinking about that.