Everyone is trying to create their life narrative and establish the story behind their personal brand. To figure out the storyline for my life with bipolar disorder, I’ve been reviewing some old English lessons and some new century graphic novelists.
A Circular Narrative
Choosing a circular narrative structure is easy. A circular narrative starts and ends at the same geographic location, but lots happens in between. I was born in Brunswick, Maine and almost six decades later moved back to the house where I grew up. That’s the basic structure of my entirely circular story.
The house where I grew up (next to the little store) is about 4 miles from the house (left) where my mother grew up. If I included her circular narrative in my own story, that would be a “framed narrative.”
Epics describe events that take place over an extended period of time (think the 30-year journey of Odysseus) and involve a protagonist who has a level of courage and bravery that can stand as a role model for their culture.
Odysseus urges his companions to battle the raging storm in this image by contemporary Italian contemporary artist Paniotis.
I know, I know … the cultural role model thing seems like pretty grandiose thinking, right? But here’s the awesome thing about epics: grandiosity is part of the norm! So the expansiveness that bipolar can demonstrate is ordinary in the epic, and — without making claims about whether anyone does or will ever consider me a role model — it does take a lot of courage to keep doing this. You probably don’t understand how much.
I can’t say I’ve seen my life as a comedy in the past. But there are some comedic elements, and I’m not liking how a tragedy would play out. Drawing on a comparison between comedy and tragedy presented by Philip Irving Mitchell, director of the honors program at Dallas Baptist University, I’m seriously considering a transition from tragedic modes to comedy for my last couple of decades.
Before I give you a full review of Mitchell (who bases his summary on John Morreall), let me give you a summary how I think a new comedic lifestyle would play out for me:
In a comedy, when you pull the rug out from under someone the audience laughs, the character makes a face, stands up and dusts off her backside. The audience laughs more. The character and the rug-puller eventually embrace. Life goes on.
Charlie Chaplin takes a fall in an early 20th century film.
In a tragedy, when you pull the rug out from under someone, the audience gasps. The character slowly rises while drawing her sword and bellowing an aria about injustice. The audience holds its breath. Someone’s going to die.
I’m ready for life to go on.
So, Heroic Epic Comedy it is. More later.