Literature and Medicine. Volume 32, Number 1, Spring 2014. pp. 221-223
Arthur W. Frank
embarrassing generalities: people naturally tell stories; our brains are wired for stories; stories rewire out brains; stories can get us into trouble; and forms of storytelling change, so no need to worry about the demise of novels, because fiction persists in video games.
Michael Gazzaniga’s split-brain experiments and the discovery of “the tale-spinning homunculus who resides in the left brain” (103). Summarizing Gazzaniga’s research, Gottschall draws an interesting and potentially provocative conclusion: “The storytelling mind is allergic to uncertainty, randomness, and coincidence. It is addicted to meaning. If the storytelling mind cannot find meaningful patterns in the world, it will try to impose them. In short, the storytelling mind is a factory that churns out true stories when it can, but will manufacture lies when it can’t” (103). That quotation exemplifies Gottschall at his best, but it does not lead into an argument about how humans should live with this storytelling mind; how we might avoid its dangers and capitalize on its capacities.
how Richard Wagner’s operas influenced Hitler: “Hitler ‘lived’ Wagner’s work, he believed himself to be a Wagnerian hero,”