Those who know me are aware of just how important music and stories are to me. If I were to be stranded on an island and could only have either a 160gb iPod filled with music, or an ebook reader filled with stories, I would be hard pressed to choose between the two.1 If I weren’t able to listen to music, I would feel utterly bereft. However, if I weren’t able to read and experience stories on daily basis, I would lose more than enjoyment, more than pleasure, and more than joy. I would lose my ability to understand both myself and the world around me.
Stories, good stories, are the map to myself and to the strange and dimly lit territories of the human experience. Stories are how I am able to model myself to myself. Stories allow me to peer into the cracks and crevices of desire and hope, to imagine I’m more courageous than I am, and, by imagining, perhaps become more courageous. Stories, good stories, are not simply a mirror held up to nature, but rather a set of coordinates that include any nature we can ever imagine. Stories allow us to situate ourselves in other worlds and other selves that range from remarkably similar to dreadfully alien. In the process we are taken across the limn of ourselves and left beyond the walls that keep us safe and secure. When we make the return from out there to home, we are changed.
What I want from a story, regardless of the medium, is the opportunity to leave myself and then come back to myself with new ideas, new possibilities, and a greater understanding of this whole experiment of nature we call being human.
When I find such a story, I want to share it.
Which brings me to a webcomic called The Abominable Charles Christopher which is, as improbable as it sounds, a beautiful, heart-wrenching story about courage, friendship, courtship, theatre, learning to fly, the difficulties of domestic life, danger, death, love, and life. Alternately funny and horrific, Karl Kerschl’s story is beautifully drawn and will take you into a forest of talking animals and a silent protagonist. In many ways, like all good stories, describing the story is like trying to reconstruct a log from a fire’s ashes. You have to experience the story for yourself to understand.
I hope you will take the time to start at the beginning and read through until the current strip. I don’t think you will regret entering Kerschl’s world and I know that you will return from this forest changed, even if only in the slightest of ways.
On this day..
- I’ll make sure to have a solar recharger with me when I wash ashore. [↩]