I don’t mean our personal narratives, the “stories of our lives”, but rather the stories we know, whether our own or others’. We all know many—probably more than we can recall at any given moment.
They’re quite important to us, these stories, and one could argue that they shape our worldviews as much as anything else in our consciousness.
Given this importance, and our occasional difficulty recalling them—particularly if we’re put on the spot—it seems a good idea to use something to aid our memory of them. The traditional method of a written journal could work, but I have in mind something more searchable. And taggable. Any reasonable note-taking application, from my employer’s Catch Notes to the self-contained TiddlyWiki, would work well for this. So I’ll try it, to have an external repository for any and all stories I think of (and remember to note).
Two stories came to mind in relation to this idea, one immediately and one in discussion of this blog post with friends.
The first concerns a Shaolin Kung Fu instructor of mine, in Ireland in the 1990s. He was in Dublin shopping, and came out of a Dunnes Stores (possibly on Henry Street), a bag in each hand, to be confronted by a knife-wielding mugger. There were probably better targets available; the instructor swatted the knife away using one of the bags, stepped on the mugger’s foot, and then brought his full weight forward with a shoulder to the mugger’s chest—without moving off his foot. Then he went home, leaving the mugger to make his slow way to the hospital, apparently with broken ribs and other injuries.
This story made one of the evening papers in Dublin, if I recall correctly.
The second is about the US Army in World War II, facing a serious shortage of doctors, especially field medics and surgeons. The Army came up with a highly intensive, accelerated course that taught medical skills in six months. The carrot provided in order to get people to sign up for this was that successful completion would grant an M.D. qualification. Unsurprisingly, the American Medical Association fought this tooth and nail. Eventually they reached this compromise with the Army: they would recognize the M.D.s, and the Army would destroy all of the training materials for the course when the war ended.
I don’t have any citations for this, and couldn’t find any support online; if you have any sources that confirm or deny the story, please let me know in comments.
Those are just two; there are many in my head, and hopefully I’ll continue copying them to offline storage over time.