I am reading Thomas C Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor, and today I came across this:
“…there’s only one story. One story. Everywhere. Always. Whenever anyone puts pen to paper or hands to keyboard or fingers to lute string or quill to papyrus. They all take from and in return give to the same story….It’s not about anything. It’s about everything.…I suppose what the one story, the ur-story, is about is ourselves, about what it means to be human” (185-186).
I really like that, that idea that all stories are really one story and that that one story is about the human condition. It just makes a lot of sense, you know? I’m writing a story about a young boy who has to kill the dragon that killed his parents … I’m writing a story about an abused kid who develops superpowers as an adult … I’m writing a story about a former punk kid who becomes a police officer and tries to clear up his neighborhood … I’m writing story after story after story, and they all really are just part of that one story: the human condition. I am saying this is what it is to be human in this society. This is the kind of thing that we deal with in this society, as humans. And everyone else who is writing a book is also writing a book about the human condition, about what it means to be a human being in today’s society . Forget today’s society: what is it to be a human being in this world?
So now I have this visual image of an infinite book, and this book is not made up of letters and words but of other books. So when I write my book, it instantly appears on page 512,000,000,000,000 in tbe 743,000th spot on line 14. That’s my contribution to the book of the Human Condition: one book that I write. And the book that you write also appears in that book. All the books appear in that book. And maybe that’s the book that God reads.