Quote for the day

Death steals everything but our stories.

Jim Harrison

I became acquainted with the writing of Jim Harrison only recently, and I both regret and wonder why I didn’t know of him years ago. After all, he’s from Michigan and lived for years in the western Upper Peninsula.

If you’re interrogating your memory and trying to place the name, or think of a title, try this: Legends of the Fall.

It’s a wonderful line that briefly explains a lot. Essays date themselves; only philosophy undergrads can tell you where the line “I think, therefore I am” came from or why it’s important. But stories last forever, and their explanatory power is constantly refreshed; Gilgamesh — the oldest extant Western text, from about 2700 B.C. — is still around, and Ken Ham has built a theme park based on it.

What is more, the unhappy truth is that the majority of people guide their lives by stories. The Genesis story of the Fall is crazy, but simpletons find it, and incoherent anxieties about dark, mysterious forces, a lot more convincing than boring facts about physics and probability. Stories last.

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