Monday, 7 May 2012

Jonathan Gottschall: ‘The Story-Telling Animal’

I'm currently reviewing for a couple of online book sites, as well as reading the occasional publisher's mss, and not finding as much time as I'd like for the books I personally want to read.   The 'wish list' is piling up!

Today I found this intriguing title.  I'm always fascinated by books about the curious human addiction to story-telling.  It seems to be in our DNA.  Jonathan Gottschall puts it like this:

'Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, no matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can't resist the gravity of alternate worlds.'

The book has a trailer on YouTube.

And this is what he has to say about the interaction between reader and writer:

'The writer is not…an all-powerful architect of our reading experience. The writer guides the way we imagine but does not determine it. A film begins with a writer producing a screenplay. But it is the director who brings the screenplay to life, filling in most of the details. So it is with any story. A writer lays down words, but they are inert. They need a catalyst to come to life. The catalyst is the reader's imagination.'

I've always believed that much creativity comes from daydreaming.  We all daydream, but maybe writers and artists can spin the dream into something bigger and more concrete.  Apparently,

'an average daydream is about fourteen seconds long and 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.'

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