The greatest invention ever

If you’re like me, the first thing you do when you see an article titled The Best of… or The Top Ten… is to begin formulating a counterargument before reading the first sentence. You scour your mind for overlooked examples that render the list null and void, thus demonstrating the author’s naivete and, at the same time, your intellectual superiority. What I’m getting at is that you’re probably right, and what I’m about to say is wrong. Humor me. Stick around for the second paragraph.


What is the greatest invention ever? Story. Stories have been with us from the dawn of humanity, according to those experts who study such things as the dawn of humanity. They are central to every form of entertainment (even video games that don’t have a story line are destined to flop). But story goes beyond entertainment: it is the most effective form of communication and persuasion. And story is central to how we understand events and view our world. Human brains run on story — brains evolved to do just that. Story is both the fuel and the lubricant for the human cortex. Not a minute of our waking time goes by without our minds being somehow occupied in the workings of story. There’s a reprieve in certain stages of slumber, but when we enter REM sleep, the story machinations begin anew.


Some of us don’t need to be told about the grip stories have on our lives. We can’t walk past a bookstore without being drawn inside. Despite the fact we already have six books in a queue at home, we make a purchase, fearing we might not find that particular text again or forget its title. Sometimes, we buy three or four books simultaneously because there is a synergy between them — they complete a unified whole which would be lost if each book were purchased individually.


If you recognize the power of story, and in particular, the magic of reading and the joy and torment of writing, I invite you to read my blog. I’m an avid reader and the author of four novels to date. My goal is to share observations about books I read and the craft of writing.
Welcome to my blog.

2 Comments

  1. This is an interesting way to look at stories. So would you say that the most basic imperative for being human is to tell a story? That everything we are, do, or create derives from that inherent need? Even things we would not consider “storytelling?” (ie. math & science)?

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  2. I think the need to tell a story varies from person to person. Some of us can’t do without it. But the affinity to listen to or read a good story is almost universal. And I agree that math and science, when done at a high level, are forms of story-telling too.

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