This blog combines two interests of mine that are unrelated—except that they both involve analyses of story-telling. I don’t pretend that they belong together. I am putting them side by side, post by post, on an irregular basis, simply to see what happens.
The first of these interests is fairly conventional: how and why do the stories found in personal essays, short stories, novels, plays, and films either work to enchant us or else fail to do so? Close readings are a good way of finding answers. I do them not pedantically but for pleasure. I also do them sometimes for work, as part of teaching essay-writing to adult students at New York University. But I would do close readings anyway even if I didn’t teach.
My second interest is psychological, more specifically behavioral; and it is not conventional at all. It has to do with the stories we tell ourselves about our identity and about the world around us, and how these sometimes limit us more than is necessary. We can learn if we wish to see through our personal myth-making rather than let it dictate our behavior—hence my coining of “anti-story.” This is not a simple subject but quite tricky and sometimes quite technical; and it is one I did not originate but am learning about from others. For an initial and very sketchy orientation, see A note about language as behavior.