What Really Happens?
August 11, 2005

I have always been fascinated with the stories we tell. You see, the brain is built, it's hardwired, to look for patterns. When we're confronted with something that doesn't make sense to us, whether it's out of our realm of experience or just unrecognizable at first, we try to fit it into a pattern.

That's why even people who hate to be categorized and put into little boxes, tend to try to categorize other people (or at least various traits). Some suppose that this is also the reason that autists tend to do things in patterns or look for patterns. After all, there's evidence to suggest that autists are simply not getting various stimuli as quickly as other people, which means that much of their time is at a different pace from the rest of the world, explaining why they start looking for patterns. I mean, if you had to sit still for an hour waiting for something with nothing else to do, don't you eventually start looking for patterns on the wallpaper, the floor, whatever?

This desire to look for patterns that we all have is probably the root of my love of stories. I like hearing the same story from two separate people and then figuring out the divergences and why the paths diverged. An example: I've been to numerous friends' houses when the whole family gets together to discuss the good old days. Invariably, an event is narrated which everybody remembers, except for the parent. Why doesn't mom remember the terrible gash from the time Johnny thought he could tow a bale of hay with his Huffy? Well, to Mom, it was probably one of a hundred times that Johnny did something crazy with his bike. For Johnny and siblings, it might be memorable because it was the first time Lucy was involved in one of his schemes or because all the kids had a bet on whether or not Johnny would make it or hurt himself.

There's a comic book, actually, a series of graphic novels called Brooklyn Dreams by J.M. DeMatteis that I just love. It's the story of one guy who's trying to recapture one of the pivotal times in his life. He says something about telling the reader a story that's a story, but still true. I'll mangle the quote now, but I'll correct it when I get home from work tonight, "Let me tell you lies more accurate than truth."

In other words, you might be able to tell the bare, objective facts of a story and not ever come close to the truth of that story. On the other hand, you can tell a story whose details only remotely relate to the actual factual event, but still tell more truth than the bare factual version. Why? Because it's all about patterns and nuance.

All of this lead up is to tell you to check out the Bulldog Manifesto's post today.

Many of us are still striving to find the patterns and the truth behind 9/11. I'm not so sure that this article has "the" answers, but it does let us look at some of the patterns in ways that we might not have looked before.

My question to everyone is this:
I was watching FoxNews at work (it was the only station we could get) and at one point, they announced there was one plane in the U.S. still unaccounted for. A few minutes later, there was a plane headed to D.C. A few minutes later, fighters were scrambled in the direction of that plane.

Then nothing.

Quite a while later, the last plane crashes in Pennsylvania.

Months later, the government decides that in case such a situation ever happens again, the Air Force can be authorized to shoot down one of our own commercial planes in order to avoid another 9/11 catastrophe.

Does anyone else remember fighters scrambled to intercept that last plane?

"Lies more accurate than truth."
What does that mean to you?

What really happens to anyone ... how do we find those truths?

Posted by Red Monkey at August 11, 2005 10:01 AM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Theron Parlin said:

"Lies more accurate than the truth" to me means using a word for its connotation (even if that word might not be the most accurate to the situation). The connotative meaning or feeling of the word creates a more accurate picture of the situation than say, the more factually accurate word.

This is not something I would ever suggest people do when writing news stories, but for personal essays and stories based on real life, I think it's an essential technique.

Emotion is is what makes writing come to life (at least in my humble opinion). Great post!

August 12, 2005 2:23 PM
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