What’s a person anyway?

So much narrative removes the possibility of change. Although faced by risk, the hero always win out, the quality and correctness of his or her original vision unchallenged.

They’re superficially about progress, but in fact such narratives privilege stasis. The hero might develop new skills (whether practical or emotional) to allow them to achieve their goal, but the fundamental identity that makes that goal worthwhile remains the same.

I can’t tell if that’s a good or bad thing. It comes back to the question of what we are. How static are our identities? At what points in our lives do the deep structures of the self change? Should fiction be exclusively concerned with those changes?

The last question isn’t too difficult to answer. Fictions that deal with static characters can still be wildly enjoyable (take the Solomon Kane stories, for example). The important thing here is not to confuse them with any kind of real life – to do so makes a virtue of personal rigidity.

But what of deeper progressions of the self? That, I think, throws you back onto questions that all honest fiction writers face, sooner or later. What are we? How do we work? What is this *person* thing that I as a writer am trying to model?

Any answers I have are deeply provisional.. and in fact I want to ponder them a bit, so more tomorrow. In the meantime, what do you think you are?

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