So who’s the greatest story-teller of all time? Charles Dickens? William Shakespeare? J K Rowling of Harry Potter fame? No, its not one of these individuals, but yes, it is a part of their collective. Something they all have in common. In fact, something we all have in common. The greatest story-teller of all time is — the Human Brain!
Note: This repost, originally titled “The World’s Greatest Story-Teller” is in tribute to a fellow blogger who has decided to leave the blogosphere for reasons of her own. I think its safe to say that we had become friends, and in her leaving, she mentioned that this particular post was her favorite. And so, I dedicate this to you Dot. You will be missed and by many!
“Man Conquered the planet, not because we grew smarter or could make better tools but because we could co-operate in large numbers with people we don’t even know by sharing and believing in Ideals. We’ve survived by co-operating with strangers and because we can invent fictional stories, spread them around and convince millions to believe in them. — Yuval Harari”
THE REALITY MAKER
We all live inside our mind, our brain in control of how we think, what we believe and how we perceive the outside world. Our brain in direct control of our realities including the stories it tells us and we so then believe. From inside the hollow of our skull, where it resides in total darkness and in total silence, with no direct access to the outside world, our brain, your brain, fabricates your reality.
Everything you know, everything you will ever know, comes from here. Your consciousness, your awareness, your life’s story, all manufactured here In the dark and silent hollow that holds your brain. It is from in here that your realities are made. Made, created and authored by your story-telling Brain.
THE STORY OF YOU!
Life is full of wonder, discovery and emotion. Family and children to love and to be loved in return. The journey ripe with good times and bad, dreams and promises fulfilled and those that are broken. We see our life as a story, our birth our death the bookends, the front and rear covers of our own personal novel. An ongoing tale still being written and directed by your ever story-telling brain. A personalized story staring you!
It’s from your brain that the story of you, comes alive. Who you are and what you believe is created here. Using memories, emotions and experiences your brain builds a story, a personalized story just for you, unique and different than anyone else. Your brain is author, director and editor of this the most influential tale of your life-time. The story of who you are. And you will use this story as a guide, for the rest of your life.
But this story, your story, is not necessarily based on fact! No, your story-telling brain often authors in fiction, fabricates, edits and indulges you “the self!” After all, you are the star of the show. It’s your story!
Like all stories, ours contains heroes and villains, events that help construct a plot and emotional challenges and suffering that we’ve endured. Our story beginning at birth, is yet ongoing, though the pages of our past are well told. Our Brain has been telling us this story for so long now that we have long accepted it as the truth. We have accepted it as reality and retell it when explaining to others who we are.
Conversely, when we want to know about another person, we ask them to share part of — their story. Even though both our stories are not true historical representations of our lives but fraught with inaccuracies and self-indulgence, this is how humankind relates to each other. We relate in stories.
FROM YUVAL HARARI — 21 Lessons for the 21st Century Book
“Who am I? Why am I here? When people ask about the meaning of life they expect to be told a story. Because to us, our whole life has been imagined as one big ongoing dramatic movie with heroes and villain’s, conflicts and resolutions, climaxes and happy endings. We Humans are a story-telling species that thinks in stories.
As a consequence, we think the meaning of life must be one big story with “myself” having a role. This role than makes me part of something bigger than just myself and thus gives a false perception of meaning to my life. When you believe in a story whole-heartedly, say: Religion or Nationalism, it makes you extremely interested in its minute details while keeping you blind to anything else.
Most people need a story that reassures them that their story will continue even after death. But to the best of our scientific understandings — none of the thousand of invented stories from different cultures, religions and tribes throughout all of mankind’s history are true! They are all simply human inventions. If you ask for the “true meaning of life” and get a story in reply — the story is not true. Its wrong simply for being a story! The universe just doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work like a story.
The Problem with stories is that people demand faith to only one story — theirs! This the reason for our violent history of wars and death based on different beliefs in different stories. In reality, it was human fingers that wrote the Bible, the Quran and the Vedas as well as the declaration of Independence. But its our mind that give these stories power. All in the hopes of finding meaning by fitting ourselves into “someone else’s” ready-made story.”
A WORLD OF STORIES
Our brain not only excels authoring stories, but functions and relates best in this way. That is why our world is filled with humankind’s home-made stories. In fact all stories are mankind made. If you hear a story, any story, it was authored by a human being. And these stories are everywhere in our life. Our brain may be the greatest story-teller of all time and it prefers feedback in the context of a story in return.
Books and Movies are perhaps the most obvious forms of man-made stories. They have a beginning, an ending and a journey in-between (much like the story your brain tells of you.) Social Media is all about stories, though much shorter scaled-down versions sometimes only consisting of a line or two.
Television has nothing but stories! Even the commercials conveying their short-story messages while flashing their Logo’s also branded with a background story. There’s sitcom’s, movies, talk shows, news broadcasts, documentaries even cartoons all told in the context of a story.
Music, the words of a song, poems and plays, opera’s and concerts all forms containing stories. Images, pictures and photographs tell stories and History — all history; including the history of humankind itself has been penned by one of us, so as to tell its story. Legends, myths, superstitions and religions all long-lasting man-made stories. When you apply for a job, a visa, a loan, a license of any kind, your story is required.
Conversations are the sharing of stories. Today you can talk with someone on the other side of the world using your cell phone, or text them while sharing stories. We have Email and web-sites and multiple internet connectivity all in the name of telling stories. It seems subconsciously we are aware of this need for story-telling and today’s modern society is rife with new ways to go about this.
Stories are everywhere in this our human made world. Even a passing short conversation with your neighbor or check-out girl is in reality a swapping and sharing of stories. Stories about your day, your past, what you think of Jane or of what happened to Jane, or in your community or on the news. Whenever we speak, we talk in stories and really how can this be a surprise when this is the context in which our brain — talks to us!
Even after we shut down for sleep, our conscious mind finally done with all the stories for another day — we then dream. Our brain recreating stories even as we sleep.
STORIES MUST BE COMPLETE
When we hear a story not yet completed we feel bewildered. All stories must have a beginning a middle and an end? And so we fabricate one, make one up that pleases our brain. Or more correctly, our brain makes one up that seems right to us. How did the Universe start? We’re not sure, but there are plausible scientific theories or religious dogma to choose from.
What happens after we die? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Listen and you will hear the multitudes preaching their opinions in answer to these yet unconcluded stories. As story-telling humans, we crave a conclusion to every story and we will have one even if we have to make one up. Or jump wholeheartedly into someone else’s, already premade story.
When our brain creates a story, it cares not about accuracy, verifiable fact and truth. Its stories are adapted and molded to fit you personally, taking great care to stay within the bounds of your personal beliefs, expectations and needs — No-matter that these too are previous creations of its own. Creations that it has already long-persuaded you to accept.
So, unsettling as it may seem, startling in its conclusion, the reality is, you cannot always trust what your brain is telling you. It lies, bends the truth and fabricates all in the name of story-telling. It looks to find similar stories with similar beliefs to associate, thus providing self-verification. Those opposed, it lays by the wayside. Because your brain is very protective of its created stories.
Strange as it may seem, we live out our entire lives based on a never-ending parade of stories. Stories told by a brain, a human brain, functioning in the recess of silence and darkness inside the hollow of your skull. A story-telling brain that wants stories in-return. And oh how humankind has provided! Making the very reality we live in one big party of stories.
From the announcement of our birth to the obituary of our death we live out our lives in the context of stories. Why? Because that’s the way our brain demands it. That’s how it functions, how it speaks to us and so we to each other. The problem is, these stories, all stories, are made by fallible brain-biased human beings with very inventive, story-telling brains.
After years of evolutionary fine-tuning, our brain may just be, the greatest story-teller of all time.
With that, “This Story” is over!
THE WORD OF WAYNE
Always — SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind