by Melissa Fay Greene published in The Atlantic
Read original on The Atlantic's website
Stories are not just for entertainment; the storie...Show description
Posted 676 days ago
This was a beautifully written piece. Fay Green managed to blend the story of Alex Enurah with a bunch of interesting, scientific research on memory. Alongisde the abstract photography, it made this piece into a great story of the pandemic. Interestingly enough, it seems that it fits the "man in the hole" story trajectory that Kurt Vonnegut identified. Alex has a great career and a loving family, with a child on the way, then falls deeply ill with the prospect of never seeing his baby, only to achieve success at the end.
I thought that the "social construction of autobiographical memory" was a good one. Basically, we are influenced by the stories that we hear around us so that our own memories of events, e.g. how we approached the pandemic, are altered. This kind of eases the disperate feelings that people may have into a more-or-less collective one. The example of 9/11 is a good one. Almost everybody tells the story in a similar way, with a similar sentiment, because that is the collective memory that we have all instilled in each other. It makes me question if my memory of it, when I was only in second or third grade, is really true or if it's something that's manipulated.
I also thought the review of Konnegut's story arcs, and the analytical research that went into classifying them, was really interesting. Of course there are going to be more stories, but it is true that the greatest books and movies seem to follow one of these arcs. I think that we like the simplicity of them. We like to be able to foreshadow what is coming, not too much, but just enough to prepare ourselves and then feel redemptive once the story comes to a close (whether or not the story was a positive or negative one). I enjoy trying to write short stories, and I never had heard about this concept. It seems very intuitive and I'm going to give it a go in the next story that I try and write.