All the latest news, ideas, and opinions from Denver's Independent Literary Center: lighthousewriters.org
I find this question intriguing, because:
Gotschall’s premise is this: the ability to tell and hear stories has helped homo sapiens inherit the earth. Our species has benefited from story in many ways.
As Gotschall says:
Story, in other words, continues to fulfill its ancient function of binding society by reinforcing a set of common values and strengthening the ties of common culture. Story enculturates the youth. It defines the people. It tells us what is laudable and what is contemptible. It subtly and constantly encourages us to be decent instead of decadent. Story is the grease and glue of society: by encouraging us to behave well, story reduces social friction while uniting people around common values. Story homogenizes us; it makes us one. This is part of what Marshall McLuhan had in mind with his idea of the global village. Technology has saturated widely dispersed people with the same media and made them into citizens of a village that spans the world.
Story—sacred and profane—is perhaps the main cohering force in human life. A society is composed of fractious people with different personalities, goals, and agendas. What connects us beyond our kinship ties? Story. As John Gardner puts it, fiction “is essentially serious and beneficial, a game played against chaos and death, against entropy.” Story is the counterforce to social disorder, the tendency of things to fall apart. Story is the center without which the rest cannot hold.
Without story, we couldn’t live together. We wouldn’t stay sane. We’d give in to entropy. Plus, we’d have nothing to do to pass the time on slow days, or in the airport, or sitting by the fire, or in dentist’s waiting room.
Now that’s a story I can believe in.
PS Here’s a video trailer for the book, if you’re interested.