One Story? C'mon

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While it is apparent from my other blogs that I am not a fan of this book, the Interlude was always my least favorite part. There was actually a running joke in our AP English class about this. The point originally is a good one, that every person is part of an ever continuing "story". Every written word and every action we take is part of the grand history of the universe, which seems pretty cool. I find fault with a different point though. On page 187 Foster writes "On one level, everyone who writes anything knows that pure originality is impossible. Everywhere you look, the ground is already camped on. So you sigh and pitch your tent where you can, knowing someone else has been there before." This type of thinking to me just seems ludicrous. While it is true that many great stories are based off of other things, saying that nothing is original anymore is something I just cannot agree with.  Also on page 187 he goes on to say that "...the work actually acquires depth and resonance from the echoes and chimes it sets up with prior texts, weight from the accumulated use of certain basic patterns and tendencies." So all we are reading now is a bunch of well placed textual patterns based off of other stories?

This is one point I could and most likely will never agree with. If this was true then you could apply this thinking to pretty much everything. Instead of living in the here and now we would all just be wondering who said what first instead of caring what is being said.

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Note that Foster prefaces this with "On one level..." He's trying to present a broad range of ideas, and intertextuality (looking at a literary work in connection to other works) is just one way to find literary meaning.

I think that, rather than actually denying the possibility that originality exists, he's really just explaining why it's valuable to think of every work as drawing from every other work, and encouraging us to see connections between stories that might seem extremely different because of their setting (such as Hamlet and The Lion King) but really tell different versions of the same story.

It's certainly not the only way to look at literature, and it's not everybody's preferred way.

Aja Hannah said:

I don't see a connection between Lion King and Hamelt. It may be because I never really saw or paid attention to what Hamlet was about anyway, but I agree with Andrew.

I don't think a person doesn't have or cannot have original work. That just makes me depressed as a writer to think about. How am I supposed to make any money? How am I supposed to create something that is truely mine and people know me by?

I think, yes, we can be influenced by the work around us, but it is also that people are similar. Two people may have the same idea for a story and never have met. It's like the two men (Einstien and some middle eastern guy I think) who created Calculus at the same time without interaction from one another or even knowing of the other's exisitance.

People just sometimes think of the same things, the same ideas for a story or music. It is still original to them.

Hamlet is about a young prince whose father has been murdered and replaced on the throne by his uncle (who turns out to be the murderer.

The Lion King has the same story, but just because the basic structure of the story is similar, that doesn't mean there is no such thing as creativity.

I don't think Foster is saying that creativity doesn't exist... he's just de-emphasizing it for this chapter.

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl.

Best friends become rivals, one betrays the other.

We already know those storylines, but a good author can embellish that framework with specific words (and characters and settings) that make the story new again.

Josh wilks said:

on a side note...
It was Newton and leibniz created calculus independently of each other. Newton was from england and leibniz from germany. The men actually had interactions and that is why there is speculation that one of them stole it from the other. So actually they did meet and know of each others existance...
Sorry I guess im a math major so i was just clarifying...

Josh Wilks said:

On a side note...
Leibniz and Newton were the ones who invented calculus "independently." However Newton was from England and Leibniz was from Germany two places that are not very far apart. The men did know of each other and had interactions. That is why there is some speculation that one might have stolen from the other.
Sorry I'm a math major and i just wanted to clarify...

Nikita McClellan said:

I can see both sides of this disagreement. I think something that comes into play in this is difference in age. Us as young college students are in the mentality that we need to be different and stand out from the crowd. It can be common for us to try to do something that makes each of unique but the older we become the less that means to us and it becomes something different. Maybe in ways we are reading to deep into the meaning Foster has is creativity. But considering I am still young, of course creativity and individuality mean a great deal to me. It is my observation however that as people age they seem to worry less about that and see the world a little differently. I believe it to be mostly because they find themselves and have completely established their identity. Not that creativity does not have any importance at all as you get older, but look a hoe Dr. Jerz puts it, we can “embellish” on a type of storyline. To use that may sound uncreative and uninovative, but as you become older, well you start to become less stubborn in ways and then say “why reinvent the wheel?” But honestly I do noy agree with the whole one story idea either and like wise probably never will.

Rebecca Marrie said:

I believe we have to agree to disagree on this one. I have a previous blog which directly relates to this argument.
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/RebeccaMarrie/2009/02/yesterdays_happenings_are_toda.html
Personally, I agree with Foster. Although each and every story is in a different format, the basic theme is the exact same as many other books, plays, movies, and life experiences. The characters actions covering this basic idea remain unique in each story, but no new morals can be created.

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Rebecca Marrie on One Story? C'mon: I believe we have to agree to
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Josh Wilks on One Story? C'mon: On a side note... Leibniz and
Josh wilks on One Story? C'mon: on a side note... It was Newt
Dennis G. Jerz on One Story? C'mon: Hamlet is about a young prince
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Dennis G. Jerz on One Story? C'mon: Note that Foster prefaces this