Saturday, October 19, 2013

3 Reasons Why We Need & Love Stories

 Adam C. Zern shares 3 reasons why we need and love stories:

"We keep telling stories—make-believe stuff, fairy tales, hero's journeys.  Why?  For my part, I love, love, love stories.  I can't get enough—whether it's a video game, book, or film.  I love being engaged by them, being entertained by them, discussing them, pondering them.  But why?  Why do I, why do we, care so much?

1.) My Brain Made Me Do It
The Hero with a Thousand Faces was the most difficult book I've ever read, but it has proven to be one of the most rewarding.  It taught me a lot about stories, and why we keep telling them, even the same ones over and over again.  We're hard-wired to tell stories.  There is apparently a biological, neurological, psychological, however you want to say it, need to tell stories.  That need is probably connected with other needs, societal and otherwise, of course, but that fact in itself is an intriguing insight into what makes us humans the interesting creations we are. 

2.) Laboratory Experiments
What if I had a machine that could duplicate a human being, albeit the original 'copy' was killed in the process?  What would I do?  Christopher Priest created just such a machine in his novel The Prestige.  What would happen if Satan, that great embodiment of evil in the Christian religions, were able to be killed?  What would be the subsequent consequences for our world?  John Gardner speculated on such a scenario in Freddy's Book.  Stories allow us to pose theories, speculate without restraints, and place people, characters in a story's case, into impossibly difficult or vacuously mundane situations and watch and see what those people do.  Social science is exceptionally difficult to do correctly considering all of the myriad variables all clattering around in and around a human being at one time, but imagine trying to do a social experiment in which a human being is intended to murder another they deem of less value and then study the social effects of such a choice?  Such an experiment was conducted by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and he didn't have to go to jail for it; although, his character eventually did.

3.) Let Me Entertain You
It's almost too elementary to mention, but we like stories because they entertain us; they intrigue us; they engage us.  I will never forget how wildly entertained I was by Bioshock Infinite's dimension-traversing adventure or how enthralled I was by this year's Man of Steel, not to mention the hundreds of other stories I've enjoyed in various mediums.  We like having an escape hatch—something that lets us out of our current reality.  The entertainment value of stories is inexhaustible.  True, we crave originality, but that want is somewhat superficial.  Most stories we enjoy look an awful lot alike, but as long as it's told well we'll enjoy it all the same.

So tell on storytellers!  Your audience will literally never go away."

Other Topics of Interest:
 Pointless Stories and the Morality of Fiction
3 Reasons Why You Should Read
The Hardest Book I have Ever Read

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