“A life. A life, Jimmy, you know what that is? It’s the shit that happens while you’re waiting for moments that never come”

This section from Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement reminded me of my favourite line from Lester Freeman in The Wire. The substance of the lives we lead is mundane, reproducing who we are in circumstances which remain roughly the same. However we are culturally surrounded with representations of life which are preoccupied by change, continuity, exception because these are the ‘motors of narrative’. From pg 17:

“Novels too proceed in this fashion, but what is distinctive about the form is precisely the concealment of those exceptional moments that serve as the motor of narrative. This is achieved through the insertion of what Franco Moretti, the literary theorist, calls “fillers.” According to Moretti, “fillers function very much like the good manners so important in [Jane] Austen: they are both mechanisms designed to keep the ‘narrativity’ of life under control—to give a regularity, a ‘style’ to existence.” It is through this mechanism that worlds are conjured up, through everyday details, which function “as the opposite of narrative.””

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