First Person Tooter
Let others pull philosophy out of your story
It turns out the story of a person’s life is interesting in a way that we have a hard time looking away from.
- How they got to where they are.
- Who were their influences?
- What were the shaping forces that drove them: poverty as a child? Loneliness? Were they ostracized or bullied?
- What was behind their particular quest?
All of this is story.
I’m reading Louis L’Amour’s Education of a Wandering Man despite myself.
I’m not a particular fan of L’Amour’s writing. I have no great interest in cowboys and western shoot-em-up stuff, still I cannot put down his biography. It’s how his personal story unfolds and his depiction of the times he lived that are so gripping. And because I know where it all leads—at least to some degree. L’Amour’s education consisted of working on migrant fields across the U.S., and the merchant marine, and boxing and in reading whatever little blue books he could lay his hands on. He listened to hobo stories and seamen stories and drinking stories and murder stories. He also wrote very clearly—so that I almost don’t even realize I am reading.
This strikes me because much of what I read calls attention to itself in thousands of ways, from pedantic language to detailed concepts that demand rapt attention to self-indulgent fluff to the simply boring. And I’ll confess to committing some of those very language sins myself on pages.
But what if a philosophy book told a story rather than parsing dry doctrines and tentative tenets? In fact, that is exactly what stories and novels and films do: package thought into a compelling narrative.
Story keeps pulling us back in.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston