We tell stories to impose a semblance of coherence over the incompressible reality we fear. We can begin to recognize the truth of a story when we begin to acknowledge it for the lie it is—that its being a lie is not incidental--not the mere recognition of its artifice, but that its untruth is the very gateway to the truth the lie has been created to hide.
This is no less and no more true of the life-stories we invent about ourselves than of literary narratives—the advantage of the later being that the artifice is less disguised, and always to some degree, foregrounded as an end in itself.
We call this ‘aesthetics.’
The disadvantage of the former lies in our need to insist that the lie is the very truth, refusing to accept that its very purpose is to protect us from the reality we dread.
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