Telling stories about telling stories

Krishna makes an interesting point on his thought clusters blog about professions that involve getting paid for talking about the profession itself.

Historically most professions made this impossible. You can’t make a building about making a building, or prepare a meal that’s about preparing a meal. It’d be a real stretch if you tried (“The mashed potatoes represent the mashing of my mind in trying to decide what to make…”). Most kinds of work don’t create a narrative that’s easy for people to follow. But speaking and writing are based on narrative, this happens and then that happens, and on it goes. And you can tell a story about anything, including telling stories. Or telling stories about telling stories. Or blogging about speaking about telling stories about blogging.

The problem of course is this gets annoying, fast. People who hate Wallace’s Infinite Jest or Dave Egger’s A heartbreaking work of staggering genius, hate it because these works are self aware and self involved in a way narratives traditionally are not. But other people love these works for exactly the same reasons. Any kind of story can be made interesting if told well. Master storytellers can get away with a lot of things the rest of us can’t.

Personally I’m interested in writing and speaking for the same singular reason. It’s about making connections between people and ideas. That’s really all I care about. If I thought I could do that better with oil paints or interpretive dance I would. But since I’m pretty sure I can’t,  I’ll stick with words.