Journal Entry: Rapunzel Problem
Despite my intention, if you can call it that, to allow discovery of fables who have lived among us to emerge from the data rather than seek them out, it’s not always easy. It can be difficult to resist the temptation to chase a fable rather than see it materialize. I wouldn’t look twice, for example, at the name Snow White. It might merit a smile, the way a prospector smiles at fool’s gold but keeps moving. It is a rare enough name but far from unheard of and I have yet to find a fabled person whose name is an exact match to their fable. I know this. I know this.
Once I came across the name Rapunzel and I had to look, I had to chase it. I couldn’t stop myself. The name Rapunzel appears once in every six million girls born and when one of them was born in 1911, I found it too tempting. I gave chase but once I start chasing I have already decided the story and once I decide the story…well, you can imagine, I start finding exactly what I am looking for. She had long hair. She married an architect who gained a name for himself designing tall buildings. They lived in the penthouses. But eventually I could see the fable wasn’t there.
I dubbed it the Rapunzel Problem. It refers to anytime I chase a story. When I started researching glass slippers, I had a Rapunzel Problem. When think about looking for women who woke from comas and then try and find out if they had been kissed just before, I have a Rapunzel Problem. It takes a whole life to make a fable, I remind myself often. You can’t see them up close. Stick to the obituaries.