A System of Belief


I played with these as a child. Likely the inspiration for my belief in The Line. Pulled from here.

I believe in The Line.

When humans first demarcated space they started telling stories. “Yours,” pointing to one side of a Line drawn in the dirt with a finger or a stick; “Mine,” pointing to the other side.

Humans have evolved the line as they themselves have evolved, using it to define shapes of animals or other people in the service of telling a story. This culminated in the storytelling of cave paintings that started as early as 40,000 years ago.

As far as my limited research has gone on the subject of cave paintings it’s obvious that scholars don’t know what purpose the paintings served. Whether for religious purposes or to brag or communicate that hunting in the area was good is a mystery. For all anyone knows, it may be the earliest form of “Kilroy was here”-type graffiti. Regardless, the paintings are a form of storytelling. Pictograms go back at least as far as cave paintings and culminate in Sumerian and Egyptian cultures, becoming more than just ancient versions of Powerpoint presentations, but actual language.

All this because The Line is used to define space.

Pictograms evolve further into letters which become alphabets, further ascribing a visual cue to a sound – engaging two of the five senses. Those letters are grouped into words and words into sentences and paragraphs, again for the purpose of telling stories. The Line is used extensively in this blog post because every letter of every word has at least one Line in it.

Every Line is slightly different, bending sharply here or curving gently there to show us what the space is around it.

Every building that is built, every construct in fact, is a definition of space. Something that has been taken and described by someone for a purpose of some kind. Entertainment, enlightenment, or even “because it is there”. Writers believe in The Line whether we acknowledge it or not.

The Line is a servant for each of us, so ingrained in us that we don’t even recognize it until it is pointed out to us that we cannot do something. Then we must cross The Line, and that defines us further still.

When I had my first revelation of The Line several years ago, I thought that someone must have defined this previously. Not that I could find. Again, because The Line is so ingrained in humans because it is such a part of us, we take it for granted. Like other autonomous functions of the human body The Line is essential to our living our lives. There are places we cannot go because of Lines, places we choose not to wait in because of Lines, things we must do because a Line leads us there.

I realize I’m explaining this poorly, but such is the way of The Line. It defines us, we cannot define it. Not completely. We follow it from point to point, sometimes make a turn here or there, but always ending up where The Line intends us to be. And then we must continue because backtracking along The Line is futile. It always carries us forward.

I’m a servant of The Line, expounding, formalizing, denominating the stories in my head with everything I have inside of me. The Line is what moves me to write and tell stories. I cannot deny The Line. It’s in every fiber of my being, suffusing itself throughout all that I am. Should I try to deny The Line, it will find a way to push me toward its goal: detailing everything.

When it’s all done, The Line will not rest. It will still drive us to do more, define more, interpret more, lay out more, illustrate MORE.

I believe in The Line because The Line is what defines ME.

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at www.jasonarnett.com

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