The power of the narrative
Why do we love stories so much? What it is about fiction that compels us to pay attention.
We’re not talking about genre fiction here, as in “I really like detective stories more than romance stories.” This is about the power of the narrative — any narrative: The characters and their interactions, the decisions and actions they take, the consequences of those actions.
Think about those dinner table discussions, telling the same family stories that we have heard again and again.
What fascinates us about the narrative?
That question has drawn the attention of evolutionary social theorists who recognize that every society and culture has its stories and across societies and cultures, many of these stories have the same elements. David Robson has an interesting essay about all that on the BBC website. BBC – Culture – Our fiction addiction: Why humans need stories
Robson cites the earliest piece of literature that we know about — the 4,000-year-old story of Gilgamesh from the ancient Sumerian society — as containing the same things that many of our modern stories have:
What is even more astonishing is the fact that it is read and enjoyed today, and that so many of its basic elements – including its heart-warming ‘bromance’ – can be found in so many of the popular stories that have come since.
Such common features are now a primary interest of scholars specialising in ‘literary Darwinism’, who are asking what exactly makes a good story, and the evolutionary reasons that certain narratives – from Homer’s Odyssey to Harry Potter – have such popular appeal.
This is an excellent article with much to consider. (It will probably take less than 10 minutes to read.
Best true-crime books
Deborah D.: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
Jeannie H.: I still like In Cold Blood!
Tanya W.: Can I cheat and do a tv show instead? Wives with Knives
Jane R.: A great true crime book from New Zealand is A City Possessed The Christchurch Civic Creche Case. By Lynley Hood. It’s a brilliant look at NZ and world societal factors leading to and through the travesty/persecution and imprisonment of one man who works in preschool childcare. This case certainly captured the attention and divided New Zealanders.
Robin K.: I ran across this title while browsing Amazon.com. Parents Who Killed Their Children. I am creepily curious about this title. It’s on sale today, Kindle version, for $0.99.
Elsa H.: oh Jim I live for true crime. The things people do to one another isn’t even thouching a realm of fantasy.
The bees and crimson clover
Kitty G.: As my husband is just getting into bees(we have 2 huge nests in an outer wall of an old house on our property), I especially enjoy reading about your beekeeping experience.
Robin K.: Thanks so much for the photo of the crimson clover. I have some light purple clover and wondered if it was the same. You’re photo cleared that up – it’s gorgeous and something I’ve never seen before!
There was an old Soviet era joke based on Pravda meaning truth and Izvestia (the other major newspapers title also) meaning news. “In Pravda net Izvestia; in Izvestia net Pravda” Pardon my Russian – I don’t have a Russian keyboard. the word “in” should be the Cyrillic equivalent of “ve.”
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