On the doorstep of magic

picture of narrative bookToday I picked up my eagerly-awaited copy of Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots: Why we tell stories. It has been on my to-read list for what seems like aeons. Guilt has driven me: for someone so passionate about narrative, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it should already have dirty, dog-eared, coffee-stained pages as it lies at the bottom of my bookcase.

Barely a few pages in, I have this uneasy feeling that I recognise as the same feeling I've had when friends have offered to show me how they do the little magic tricks they know.

Know that feeling?

You're giddy with the child-like awe of a mysterious event, but know that there is a rational explanation for this "magic". Do you give in and find out the "secret", or do you hold onto the joyous awe and relish it? The awe wants to be sustained. Your mind bounces back as strongly with a craving for the peace of knowing. Inevitably you ask for the answer, knowing that you'd never be able to see the trick in the same innocent way again. I wonder if Adam and Eve had the same experience?

I digress.

In addition to Booker's basic premise of exploring the 7 basic narrative plots that permeate all of our stories, he poses that all stories come from the same source. He says,

"When we penetrate to the root of what our impulse to imagine stories is really about, we see there is in fact no kind of story, however serious or however trivial, which does not ultimately spring from the same source: Which is not shaped by the same archetypal rules and spun from the same universal language."

This is a dilemma. Do I continue reading knowing that I may never be able to watch a movie in the same innocent, participative manner again. Knowing that I may be saying goodbye to the sublime surrender that allows me to get wrapped up in the story, but rather sit on my couch with my new cerebral friend who will want to identify and analyse the basic plot and it's probable ending before the movie is out?

The excitement over J.K. Rowling's final instalment of the Harry Potter series is also at risk. I had no clue that Dumbledore would be killed and now I run the risk of knowing the ending before even reading it (if she is also subject to Booker's notions of the same archetypal rules)

Or, the possibility exists that I'm being overly melodramatic about this, continue reading, discover the "magic" and be disappointed because it is so weak much like finding out the secret behind a trick is far from enchanting.

I'll let you know.

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