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August 5, 2020 / Congau

The Locale

The place where it all happened was somewhere far away. Or maybe it was rather close. No one knows, because it was given a fictional name. It could have been anywhere, really, for it was inhabited by creatures of the human race, and they have a remarkable tendency to labor under the same psychological constraints wherever they find themselves on their planet. 

True, there is such a thing as culture and any hobby anthropologist is keen to make shrewd observations about subtle differences that penetrate into the psyche that shape the way we think. Well, we are partly products of our environment, of course. When nature has been accounted for, nurture must be blamed for the rest, and cultural circumstances are undeniably a part of it. But the size of that part is dependent on what aspect of our psychology we are dealing with. Social interaction is obviously more cultural than solitude, and broader and more institutionalized relations more so than private ones. 

Therefore the locale doesn’t always matter much, and if the story was dealing with problems of general human nature, almost nothing at all. 

Great literature is timeless and also placeless. Ancient books have come down to us from locations that no longer exist, for the societies they describe have ceased to be. But if we still read them, it’s because they tell us something about ourselves and occur in a place we actually know.

However, it must be authentic, must it not? The colors need to look real and the atmosphere believable. It may be easier for the storyteller to describe a place he is familiar with, but the reader doesn’t really have to know where it is. In a way it is better not to know since incomplete knowledge is a source of prejudice.

Please tell us a story from nowhere.


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