the future of the stories we tell ourselves

6 creating interesting

The passengers on the top reck of the number 26 bus didn’t know what to make of the group of pirates wielding cutlasses and “arr-ing” on the way to their seats.


We’d begun on Portobello beach with a game of Battleship (or should that be Man O’War) on the sand, and we were now heading into Edinburgh to find a few pubs (taverns) to tell our stories of daring-do, handing out our treasure (chocolate) to those who would take it.

A story with lots of fun.

Jonathan Gottschall closes his book pondering the future of story, especially because it’ becoming increasingly possible to live within novels as they’re being written.  In MMORPGs (Mor-pegs, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games) players are the protagonists fighting against evil, escaping mundanity.  So will the story, which has been helpful to us as a species, become a liability, creating “a mental diabetes epidemic” as we prefer virtuality to realtime?*

I’m more hopeful.  Especially for stories which allow us to ask the most important questions.  In these stories, we can do some “thinking wrong” – the technique of ‘mixing and matching things that don’t normally go together.’**  When the expected things don’t work, why not combine things in stories which don’t go together and see what happens.

What if I don’t take offence at what someone says to me or does to me?  What if I don’t hold this person responsible for something their company or ancestor did?  What if someone could walk off the street into a shop in which they could purchase a different story to live.

The difference between the pirates in Edinburgh and a mmorpg is the pirates were trying out an idea to see how people can have fun and make a difference in the world.

‘Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it.’^

(*Brian Boyd, quoted in Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.)
(**From Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question.)
(^From Susan Cain’s Quiet.)


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