Narrative as expressions of world view

I’ve been working on a series of short stories called “The Rembrandt Parables”. Its made me consider the nature of the parable. According to one definition I read, a parable is “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”. I think that definition is too narrow. I believe a parable exhibits a world view. It need not speak to a specific moral, but an entire belief system.

In a modern context, morality has generally been reduced to moral relativism. In essence, a single moral expression is undermined for the sake of individual moral authority. But this is itself a moralistic world view, often referred to as postmodernism. The individualistic authority of this world view, as widely popular as it is, lacks the substance of communal authority. The need to exist within community is undermined by the radical moral rights of the individual. Where the community attempts to legislate some form of moral neutrality, it contradicts the philosophy upon which it is based. Legislation of equity denies the right of individual moral authority. What’s left is a morass of ambiguity.

Narrative becomes an essential corrective to that ambiguity. All narrative is didactic. The presentation of a particular world view through fiction creates a modern mythology. Even the creation of non-fictional forms of narrative, like “reality TV”, create a form of parable. Like so many, I watched the Youtube video of “Britain’s Got Talent” where a dowdy woman shocked the world with a stunningly beautiful singing voice. One judge made the comment that the contestant gave them all a wake-up call. That statement was the moral expression of the event. It might be expressed in a few ways: you should not write off a person until you understand their talent; or, you never know until you follow your dreams.

One of the questions asked through my stories is how to we understand ourselves through the stories we tell? We all want some form of moral certainty. In a world which eschews current moralistic systems, we need to rely on some sort of moral expression. I believe that all narrative serves that need. All the stories we tell are parables.

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About vanyieck

There is nothing about me that is more interesting than you. I am a man. I have a wife and family. I have a career. I have two dogs. I
This entry was posted in authority, certainty, creative process, creativity, novel, parable, philosophy, reality TV, short story, truth, world view, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Narrative as expressions of world view

  1. Parables are the essence of nursery rhymes
    Who can deny us their place and there times
    I agree that most all thoughtful stories
    told are parables when we truly listen.
    But when the tree falls in the woods,
    does it make a sound? Must we be in
    the forest itself to actually know?

    …The strong woodsman swung his ax twice
    ….and the large tree fell down hard. A
    ….bystander noticed his feat and asked
    ….the woodsman what power he had used
    ….to drop the tree. The wordsman said
    ….it was not his power he used but it
    ….was that of his ax. His ax had been
    …..in his family for generations. The
    ….ax was formed by his greatest great
    ….grandfather’s father’s grandfather.
    …..The ax handed down to each son to
    ……this day and each time grew much
    …..stronger as each son gave it sway.
    …..The bystander then noticed that ax
    ……looked brand new and wondered if
    …..the wordsmans woods laid were true.
    ….”How can this be, this here ax looks
    ….store bought? I don’t believe this ax
    ….is your heritage wrought!” The words-
    ….man replied, “Yes you are quite right
    ….we lost many a head while out chopping
    …at night and the handle’s been busted more
    ..ways than I recall, still here it is, handed
    .down one and all…” I think you get the pict-
    ure. I could go on with the story but I’d end
    up-askew with swinging the axis in too a para-
    bola miss construed. Sorry about the mess, I’m
    trying to develop a feel for the blogs format.

    I compose with fixed-width fonts but the blogs
    comment window is too narrow and variable width.

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