Why are we drawn to storytelling?


Why are we drawn to storytelling? Well, it all began over 9000 years ago, before our city was founded, before the invention of books, before explorers sailed the seas, before we knew anything but fire and the hunt. There lived in a village, between the mountains and the great desert, a boy who didn’t believe in anything. Most of all he didn’t believe in suspense. One fine day as he was tending his father’s flock on a far pasture, a violent storm arose as quickly as the suns sets on the day of the Autumn harvest festival. [hang on, my phone is ringing]


Reminds me of this great 3-minute lecture on the societal importance of storytelling (in the context of a filmmaking class): http://play.macprovideo.com/film-craft-103-the-director/10

Great recent episode on Radiolab about Orson Wells’ “War of the worlds” and why that mostly-same radio show worked to scare the shit out of people three different times (something like 1938, 1949, and 1967). And it essentially comes down to good storytelling.

The part of this that always gets me, is how smarter people are routinely defeated by the stories told by less-smart people. Being smarter, you’d think we’d be more convincing too, right?

Actually, this story is about gamer gate. They’re not dummies, these social justice warrior wannabes, they are just trapped by a story in which they’re the victim. Authors who can put their own name on a story are more credible than Anonymous… (until A. can fill the streets, I guess. maybe not even then.)

What bugs the hell out of me, is the way an engaging story can take logical shortcuts and fudge the facts, yet if it resonates with the cognitive biases of the audience, it’s still credible. And there’s no simple cure for that, it’s down to building an audience with the skills to discern better stories from more manipulative ones. In other words, exactly the opposite of what’s been going on.

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The Republican Party is a nutshell.

That’s the feeling I’m getting about every thread on here, lately.

I’m not complaining, mind you! I’m a vocal participant… too vocal.

When I’m not talking about Gamergate, it seems I’m trying to plug Nation Novel Generation Month. And thinking a lot about what narrative means, and how it can be “faked” enough to encode it in a short algorithm (that I am capable of writing).

I like abstract and experimental stuff – Finnegan’s Wake and Gertrude Stein’s post-3-lives works are big influences on me. But, dang, that stuff is hard to read. I love it, but I can’t swim in it. I’d much rather chillax with Consider Phlebas or The Armageddon Rag* than read those from front to back. Although I am, somewhat perversely, enoying my reads of manuals/papers from the 1970s filled with Fortran V code.

Narrative is the opiate of the masses. It’s inextricably entwined with hierarchical structures. And G-d help me, but I always want another fix.

* With his flair for detail and historical detail, I think the author has a future.

To be fair, it’s both major parties. Coke and Pepsi taste pretty much the same compared to Moxie.

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It’s also the dopamine of the masses, and the methamphetimine of the masses, and every other chemical signal you can think of.

The Richard Berman story shows that neutralized public is more realistic
than a public that wants what you want. In fact, it doesn’t really matter what the issue is, a neutralized public is more used to being shut down, it gets ‘easier’ each time you do it.

If that’s so then why is only one party spending millions to prevent you from voting?

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In some cases reading or hearing a story has been shown to stimulate the production of oxytocin, which has been suggested to account for some of the empathy that we feel for characters in stories.


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