The gift of story is wisdom. For tens of thousands of years stories have served to pass down lessons in how to live from one generation to another. The first to alter my perception of the world was Julian Barnes’ A history of the world in 10,5 chapters. I was a boy of seventeen and out of control in the chaos of my first experience of love. We were together, this girl and I, but we weren’t happy. Why? ‘Love makes you happy?’ the elder Barnes asked me, tenderly, from the pages of his book. ‘No,’ he continued. ‘Love makes the person you love happy? No. Love makes everything all right? Indeed no.’

The problem, I read, is that ‘the heart isn’t heart-shaped.’

We might picture it as a neat symmetrical shape, two halves forming a perfect whole, but Barnes’ narrator returns from the butchers with a real heart, cut from an ox. ‘The organ was heavy, squat, bloody, clamped tight like a violent fist… the two halves did not ease apart like I’d fancifully imagined.’

The heart isn’t heart-shaped. Five words that immediately soothed me and made sense of my adolescent torments. Five words that, twenty-six years later and married to another, still help me negotiate love’s unpredictable waters. The heart isn’t heart-shaped. A secret mantra in my head until the day that I or she dies.

stem: will storr
titel: 4.6 plots, endings and meanings
perspectief: application of psychological research and neuroscience to myths and archetypes to show how we can write better stories, revealing, among other things, how storytellers – and also our brains – create worlds by being attuned to moments of unexpected change
bron: the science of storytelling (2020)
mopw: meerstemmige encyclopedie

[Op de knop geduwd voor Barnes. The gift of story is a new story. The dramatic question: will one ever change?]