Living in Books: How Stories Build Your Reality
"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin."
"Once upon a time, on the edge of a great forest, there lived a very poor woodcutter with his wife and his two children, Hansel and Gretel."
"It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
The center of a story is always a problem preventing characters from getting what they want. A problem captivates us at once, and we won't follow its course if there's no conflict in a story.
The world of children stories is the world of anarchy, violence, and disorder. Sure enough, the good wins. But someone has to suffer first.
1) Rags to Riches (rise)
2) Riches to Rags (fall)
3) Man in a Hole (fall then rise)
4) Icarus (rise then fall)
5) Cinderella (rise then fall then rise)
6) Oedipus (fall then rise then fall)
All stories deal with basic facts and problems of human existence: loneliness and desire to overcome it, the agonies of choosing, life unknowableness, and death certainty. Scientists view stories as virtual systems for us to practice problem-solving.
Stories answer the "what will happen if..." question, and we always eager to know what it will be.
Stories are far more than book plots. They are a form of life view, native to all people. Stories about "who we are" tell us about what we shall do and believe in.
A story about oneself is the only source of what we call "individuality."
Our memory is mobile and changeable. Many stories we believe are a figment of the collective imagination: they are fiction works rather than documentary reports.
Why We Can't Avoid Excogitating
Briony Tallis, a 13-year-old protagonist of Atonement by Ian McEwan, observes a weird scene from the window: her sister, supposedly complying with the order of a friend, undresses and jumps into the fountain. Brioni doesn't understand what is happening, but it doesn't last long. She immediately builds a suitable story: a friend of her sister is, in fact, a dangerous maniac who has a strange power over her. Brioni doesn't know the details but is ready to compose them, inventing a new story where violence and mystery call the shots.
Our consciousness doesn't want to accept vagueness, choosing a terrible interpretation over no interpretation at all. The world is full of coincidences, but wcan't leave the causativity idea even for a second. We don't want to accept the fact that there's a chance we don't know something; instead, we draw a story that might explain our deeds and decisions.