When we feel the effects of narratives in our lives, when we hear our theme music rising or the battle drums thrumming Terry Pratchett might say we are succumbing to narrative causality. That is, we might do things because that’s how the story goes.
Pratchett’s Witches Abroad is the story of 3 witches who travel across the world to stop the down-trodden sister with the missing shoe from marrying the prince. Apart from being an escape bursting with satire and gooey with descriptions on Genua (based roughly on New Orleans), Witches Abroad has much to say about how stories shape the world. Here is a favorite quote that has been bopping around my head in the context of derivative-works:
People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.
Stories exist independantly of their players. If you know that, the knowledge is power.
Stories, great flapping ribbons of shaped space-time, have been blowing and uncoiling around the universe since the beginning of time. And they have evolved. The weakest have died and the strongest have survived and they have grown fat on the retelling . . . stories, twisting and flowing through the darkness.
This is the most visual, lovely argument I have ever read for the idea/expression dichotomy.
Why can’t an author copyright an idea?
Because it never belonged to him.
“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”–