Let's Ditch the Dangerous Idea That Life is a Story

... many of us aren’t Narrative in this sense. We’re naturally – deeply – non-Narrative. We’re anti-Narrative by fundamental constitution. It’s not just that the deliverances of memory are, for us, hopelessly piecemeal and disordered, even when we’re trying to remember a temporally extended sequence of events. The point is more general. It concerns all parts of life, life’s ‘great shambles’, in the American novelist Henry James’s expression. This seems a much better characterisation of the large-scale structure of human existence as we find it. Life simply never assumes a story-like shape for us. And neither, from a moral point of view, should it.

There is no complete life. There are only fragments. We are born to have nothing, to have it pour through our hands.

I am not a story by Galen Strawson on Aeon, excerpted from On Life-Writing.