Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making Sense of A Tragic Narrative

"Thats the thing about pain it demands to be felt."-John Green

John Green, the popular young adult novelist, wrote this quote in his novel "The Fault in Our Stars",  which deals with young adults with cancer, and he is right. Sometimes nothing makes sense. Sometimes all we have is an emotional response, and emotions do not make logical sense. They demand to be felt, and who can blame us? When something tragic happens, we feel it. Feeling is all we have sometimes, and when the story is tragic, our feelings can be the first thing we feel.

If you read my stuff, you know I mostly write about film and fictional books. My job isn't to make sense of the real world. It's to make sense of the reflection of it. Fiction is a reflection of the real world, but it isn't the real world. When a tragic event happens, one that affects us but not directly, we need to make sense of it through a narrative. Of course, we can't know everything, even with the news covering it through hours and hours. So, in a way, a big event, tragic or just well, big, has to be processed like a story. Of course, the Boston Marathon Bombing is a tragedy. It is a tragedy that makes us use words I won't publish here. Our response to this event shouldn't be elegant. However, it's the job of the newspaper man or the creative type to try to give us a narrative response. Stories are our way of trying to digest something that really doesn't make sense to any sane human. We all know how the story is going to end, but it doesn't make it any better. It's going to be some extremist nut, ranting about one of two things: some kind of vendetta against America or nonsense about how he did this for some spiritual reason or both. However, the problem is, despite the end of the story being there, we can never make sense of this event. We will get a narrative one day, with details that will never be revealed, nor should they. That being said, how do we make sense of the senseless?

Well, the simple answer is, we can't. This isn't a movie or book. This is the real world. Only the insane person who did this, does this make sense to. His narrative for why this happened will be twisted, for sure, and make no sense to those of us trying to make sense of why. We might never know why. The only narratives that will make sense to us is the stories of those who ran towards the explosions, and the narratives of those who surrounded it. We know their stories are narratives that make sense, because like any good story, the core of those stories are raw emotion. That makes sense.

I don't claim to try to make sense of any of this. More than 100 people were injured and 3 died, including an 8 year old boy. It's horrible even to type these words. Sometimes the only story that makes sense is our emotions, not the actual story that happened. Not every narrative makes sense, and believe me, this one won't. After all these years, the narrative of 9/11 doesn't make complete sense. However, we can pick and choose the narrative we want from this event. Let the narrative be that good people can exist. There are no suspects yet, but I do hope this was one twisted dude and not some terrorist group. This will never be a good story, however, we can make it an emotional one. When I talk about stories, movies and books I like, I often say  that stories about people are the most important. Even if the story is a fantasy, the core still needs to be human. The only way we make sense of a tragic narrative, is to focus on the stories of people, and not the bad people. Our emotional response is the story we need. At the end of the day, lets let the proper people put together the emotionless story of information on how this happened. Yes, that story of information is important. However, our emotional story is the one that will stick with us.

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