Last week, I shared some Sci-Fi wisdom from The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley. I’m madly in love with this book, in case anyone hasn’t noticed. Today, I’d like to share another quote from Light Brigade, something that I found particularly enlightening.
There’s a theory that consciousness itself begins with story. Stories are how we make sense of the world. All of us have an internal story that we have told ourselves from the time we were very young. We constantly revise this story as we get older, honing and sharpening it to a fine point. Sometimes, when we encounter something in our lives, or do something that does not match up with that story, we may experience a great sense of dissonance. It can feel as if you’ve lost a piece of yourself. It can feel like an attack on who you are, when the real world doesn’t match your story.
This idea of stories—both the stories that society wants us to believe about ourselves and the stories about ourselves that we make up on our own—this becomes a recurring theme throughout The Light Brigade. It’s also been a recurring theme in my personal life these last few years.
It strikes me as a very writerly way of looking at the world. But it’s also, I think, a scientist’s way of seeing things. Much of The Light Brigade, and especially the section quoted above, reminded me of Isaac Asimov’s classic essay “The Relativity of Wrong.”
[…] when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.
In a similar way, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we stand for, and what our purpose is in this world—these stories are imperfect descriptions of reality. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean these stories are entirely false or that they have no value. It just means some stories are more accurate then others.
All we can hope for is that our stories are as close to the truth as possible.