The Narrative Line

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"The refraction of the eye; including a complete treatise on ophthalmometry;" (1900). Credit: Flickr/Library of Congress

What happens when the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves turn out to be wrong? And what if the attempt to shape our life stories to fit some formulaic narrative arc fundamentally distorts them? Could different narrative forms tell more honest stories? Or do all narratives falsify reality in their own way?

Three artists suggest new ways forward for narrative storytelling and making sense of the world. Maggie Nelson seeks to write stories that, in place of a traditional plot, instead reflect a mode of being in the world. Visual artist Brian Belott blends found sounds, Groucho Marxian humor, and playful nonsense into anarchic vocal freakouts. And writer and artist Renee Gladman confounds the boundaries of reading, drawing, and seeing to connect thinkers with landscape and turn ideas into architecture.


Produced by Myke Dodge Weiskopf with Ariana Martinez, Reynard Seifert, Ross Sutherland, Ross Simonini, and Laura Irving.

Music: Renee Gladman’s reading features tracks from Ayato & Kecap Tuyul and Rodrigo Ardais.