Somewhat tangentially (but tied to the type of pan-narrativism that I used to go up against when writing about games), there is an ongoing discussion about whether we constitute our identities through narratives what we make about ourselves, or not.
Galen Strawson covers it well, The Dangerous Idea that Life is a Story. Here is Jeremy Bruner quoted:
In the end, we become the autobiographical narratives by which we “tell about” our lives”.
Strawson argues that it may well be that many people really do conceive their lives as having narrative form, episodes, arcs, but that this is not universal.
I think it’s false – false that everyone stories themselves, and false that it’s always a good thing. These are not universal human truths – even when we confine our attention to human beings who count as psychologically normal, as I will here. They’re not universal human truths even if they’re true of some people, or even many, or most. The narrativists are, at best, generalising from their own case, in an all-too-human way. At best: I doubt that what they say is an accurate description even of themselves.
[…] it does seem that there are some deeply Narrative types among us, where to be Narrative with a capital ‘N’ is (here I offer a definition) to be naturally disposed to experience or conceive of one’s life, one’s existence in time, oneself, in a narrative way, as having the form of a story, or perhaps a collection of stories, and – in some manner – to live in and through this conception. The popularity of the narrativist view is prima facie evidence that there are such people.
Perhaps. But many of us aren’t Narrative in this sense. We’re naturally – deeply – non-Narrative. We’re anti-Narrative by fundamental constitution. It’s not just that the deliverances of memory are, for us, hopelessly piecemeal and disordered, even when we’re trying to remember a temporally extended sequence of events. The point is more general. It concerns all parts of life, life’s ‘great shambles’, in the American novelist Henry James’s expression. This seems a much better characterisation of the large-scale structure of human existence as we find it. Life simply never assumes a story-like shape for us. And neither, from a moral point of view, should it.
Are you the narrative type? I am not. I have already been an avid reader of novels, but never conceived my own life that way.