Why we love a good yarn

As a rule I don’t read the magazine Scientific American, but there is an interesting article by Jeremy Hsu in the latest issue on the pervasiveness of storytelling in what has become a very facts-oriented world whose inhabitants appear to have ever-decreasing attention spans.

Storytelling interests me greatly – both reading and listening to tales, and striving to understand the power of the medium in the modern world. I’ve written about it on this here webspace, and refer you also to the words of my friend Anja, a literature scholar based in Germany.

Hsu’s magazine feature is interesting, but like Norman Geras I don’t think it tells the whole story. The author’s take on storytelling comes across to me as rather utilitarian, focusing as it does on fiction as a training ground for social interaction in the real world. But what of the narrative form as a means of exercising our creative imaginations as well as intellects, as a medium for spiritual musings in the absence of gods and their earthly high representatives, or as pure, unadulterated fun with no practical purpose?