NARRATIVES AND REALITY
A day will not pass without you hearing and telling of some event in your life or in the world as if it were a story - but, and this is crucial, events in life and the world are not stories. We tell of events as stories but must recognise how much this acts to simplify and reduce reality to something it is not... well... to a story.
Perhaps we turn the truly complex events of life into simplified stories because it is the only way we can come to terms with the the often random and confusing reality of life; perhaps stories are an inbuilt comfort and security mechanism? Psychologists believe that this might indeed be so and that we are unable to construct the realities of life without relying on narrative to help us.
|It seems our brains are hard-wired to understand the world and its events in terms of stories: it is as if we have a human need to see events in life as somehow being connected, and to have 'heroes', 'villains' and 'helpers', to start somewhere and for a reason; and most of all to have a final and satisfying resolution and the chance of a new beginning...|
Certainly we seem to enjoy learning from what stories tell us and their structure seems to be both compelling and comforting. Perhaps we feel more secure - a prime human need - if we are only able to think of events in the world not as random but as somehow linked and leading somewhere, especially to a resolution. The idea of there always being 'an ending' - even if not a happy one - provides a sense of comfort and a belief that a new beginning is always possible.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of these cultural narratives and myths is that they can be very easily cued or brought to mind. Even a single slice or image from a story can do this - and we then fill in the rest automatically. For example, an image of a cowboy will instantly cue a story of the tough masculinity of the Wild West.