Over at Brainpickings, there’s a review of a book called The Storytelling Animal: The Science of How We Came to Live and Breathe Stories. Since The Good Men Project, is at its core, stories of men, it is always nice to understand their importance. The stories we tell ourselves are not just about us — they are how we fit into the larger universe.
Breaking down stereotypes just means telling different stories. And that’s why the continual retelling of stories on our website, stories that “change the teller and change the listener”, creates something profound.
“The universe is made of stories, not atoms,” poet Muriel Rukeyser memorably asserted, and Harvard sociobiologist E. O. Wilson recently pointed to the similarity between innovators in art and science, both of whom he called “dreamers and storytellers.” Stories aren’t merely essential to how we understand the world – they are how we understand the world.
Clever scientific studies involving beepers and diaries suggest that an average daydream is about fourteen seconds long and that we have about two thousand of them per day. In other words, we spend about half of our waking hours – one-third of our lives on earth – spinning fantasies. We daydream about the past: things we should have said or done, working through our victories and failures. We daydream about mundane stuff such as imagining different ways of handling conflict at work. But we also daydream in a much more intense, storylike way. We screen films with happy endings in our minds, where all our wishes – vain, aggressive, dirty – come true. And we screen little horror films, too, in which our worst fears are realized.
The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human connects the dots from War and Peace to pro wrestling, from REM sleep to the “fictional screen media” of commercials, from our small serialized personal stories on Facebook and Twitter to the large cultural stories of religious traditions, dives into the way that stories get their power.