Gentleman and scholar: Lies, lives and storytelling

Kegan Rinard ponders how myths and stories have evolved to provide social benefts, but at the cost of humanity having a clear vision of reality and being easily drawn into fantasy. Photo Courtesy of Alex Cawthorn.
Kegan Rinard ponders how myths and stories have evolved to provide social benefts, but at the cost of humanity having a clear vision of reality and being easily drawn into fantasy. Photo Courtesy of Alex Cawthorn.

The book I have been reading the past couple weeks is “The Storytelling Animal” by Jonathan Gotschall, which has gripped my mind and has gradually began to twist. Gotschall goes into detail on the evolutionary function of humanity’s ability to spin fantastical weaves of words and narrative in order to establish a sense of identity in relation to the rest of the biological world.

The aspect that fascinated me was that Gotschall tries to articulate to the reader that humans will, in essence, craft their own stories to draw an “emotionally satisfying” correlation between their own logic and physical environment. What Gotschall, and I might as well include myself, would call “lies.”

Esteemed pedants such as Richard Dawkins and Ray Kurzweil see this ability to create our own narrative has been the hindrance that has separated humanity from itself, engaging in needless squabbles, all in the name of whose story is right or wrong. But that does not go without saying that these horrendous malfunctions to our biology have given us a sense of substance in the past 100,000 years and an amazing ability to preach, speak, and document our own existence, and possibly even leave a legacy after we have long perished, and let’s face it, our clock is ticking.

No other species, well within the extent of my own knowledge, has been able to ever achieve this. I must ask you the painstaking question: when was the last time dolphins ever plundered the spoils of war from its enemies? Since when did cockroaches ever create a religious global phenomenon that would echo throughout every culture over a course of nearly 4,000 years and more?

Never, I tell you. Never. It is this beautiful malfunction to our biological programming that has allowed us to flourish. This follows us even to the extent of our dreams, where we find our deep subconscious come to life and provoke us to the point of elation, hysteria or utter mortification.

This amazing ability to create our own stories and form our own identities does not come from space. Every thought that pulses through your mind, every conclusion you drew from every decision you ever made was through a series of biological processes that occurred after undergoing a particular life experience.

Infinite amounts of data and statistics play into our overall personalities, and it is through this method that we have carved our own mark into the world. The Earth is forever altered by our presence, and we as a species have single-handedly made the largest impact in natural history. If that is not something of value to acknowledge then I’ll be a monkey’s uncle, although there are those out there that believe that statement already, in more ways than one.

Possessing this ability does come with some inhibiting effects to humankind. As a result of our stories, we have a slight tendency to be engulfed by them, exhibiting prejudice to one another, act in hate crimes, mock, maim and even kill, all for the sake of attempting to validate one story in the face of those other heretical stories.

This evolutionary anomaly has snuggly set itself within our own biological composition, but instead of it being detrimental, it has forged our cultures, and refined our own social behavior and allowed us to become unified in one way, but separated in another.

So, if you are one of those seeking to further your own evolutionary role, while expressing your individuality, I have one thing to say to you: lie, lie through your little Chiclet-looking teeth.

One thought on “Gentleman and scholar: Lies, lives and storytelling

  • April 27, 2014 at 8:05 am
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    A very thought provoking review. I shall have to read the book.

    Reply

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