Story Time

Crackanory - Episode 1: Sally Phillips who reads What Peebee Did Next

I like to make my life more interesting by telling stories about myself, about my general situation and what is happening to me. “I’m a carbon-based life form living on the surface of a planetary body that has a core made up of an alloy of nickel and iron which is stable in the solid phase despite having a temperature of five and a half thousand degrees centigrade because of the great pressure it is under.” Pure fantasy of course but it gets me through the day. Not that there are any days where I am! That is pure fantasy as well. It’s no more than a figure of speech that I am employing…


I might for example also tell myself that I am living in a physical universe which is made up of energy condensed into corpuscles of matter called atoms, and that these atoms sometimes get together to form molecules. Again, it is the purest most ridiculous nonsense of course – it could never be true but telling myself such stories passes the time. Not that there is such a thing as time where I am of course. That’s fantasy too. There’s no time here but I make it up just for something to do. I make it up just for the sake of it. Time itself is a story that I tell myself. Time is of course part and parcel of any story – you couldn’t very well have a story without time, could you? Whoever heard of a story that didn’t have any time in it? How would you string it together? How would you have a beginning, a middle and an end without a linear time-line? How would you use the literary device of jumping forward to something that hasn’t happened in the story yet, or flashing back retrospectively to something that had happened before the narrative started if you didn’t have any time?


I make up time as I go along. I invent it – that’s my main preoccupation. It’s my only occupation, come to think of it! Not that there’s any such thing as thinking where I am, of course. Thinking is just another way of talking about story-telling and it’s only a story that there’s such a thing as story-telling! That’s just a figure of speech (not that there is such a thing as speech). That’s just a literary convention. Thinking is how we tell stories to ourselves in our own heads, just to make things more interesting for us. Just to entertain ourselves. Just to pass the time. Just to pass the time that doesn’t exist until we make it up! Suddenly we have all this time on our hands and we have to get through it. “What’ll I do to get through all this time?” I ask myself, “How am I going to cope with it?”


Only the thing is that thought is itself a story. If you get where I’m coming from. There was no question until I asked it, just like there was no time until I invented it. Here’s a riddle: ‘Can you be found guilty of ‘wasting time’ if there is no such thing as time?’ Can you be charged for this particular misdemeanour in a court of law? Held accountable before your peers? You see what I mean, anyway. It’s all a bit of a joke really. Do I really know what I’m doing at all here? Have I any clue at all? What am I at with all this nonsense? I’m making time for myself with all these stories and then I have to somehow pass the time. I have to get rid of it because no one likes time. First we bring it to life and then we look for ways of killing it! Time hangs heavy on everyone’s hands. It’s a burden that we like to have plenty of! It’s a burden we are afraid to lose. It’s a problem we have to cope with as best we can. We have to figure out how to get from A to B. We have to distract ourselves with our little games; we have to make believe that there actually is such a thing as A and B…


And that’s all fine and well up to a point. It’s fine and dandy as far as it goes. We create time and then the next thing is that we have to contrive ways of passing it. Ways of getting through it. Ways of killing it. We invent all these games for that purpose and then the next thing is that they start going wrong for us and so we freak out. We go spare. We go mental. We’re actually cracking up under all the pressure! Our own games are rebounding on us like crazy and giving us untold grief! They’re turning around and biting us on the ass! Isn’t that the way it is? We’re under serious pressure because we’ve forgotten that the games are only games. I mean, the games are only there in the first place if we make sure to forget that they’re only games. Stories only pass the time when we forget that they are stories. Am I right? Think about it, isn’t that the way it is?


Or rather don’t think about it! You’ll only make extra trouble for yourself that way. That’s only going to make things worse. You’re trying to cure unreality with yet more unreality. You’re using an unreal tool to fix an unreal problem and so how in the name of God is that ever supposed to work out?







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