A Story Short

What is the origin of story?

Stone soup.

Pure fiction is as worthless as a stone in water, for soup. But like stone soup - it provides a base by which the natural curiosity and social aspect of our species - can collect. Because just as stone soup can in fact, taste wonderful - if the right additional ingredients are taken - so too can pure fiction find value even in a primitive species whose primary function is base survival. It collected about the tribal group - a genetic memory.

We likely started the art of storytelling as a means by which we could transfer omega - the role of the least useful member of a group. The paradox of the Omega is that it is very difficult for a new one to come along.. often if the omega is lost, the tribe dissipates. Because no one would want to be in that position. This also explains the rise of a religious position within a group - that one who, unsuited for hunting or farming - and even raising children - becomes the one who keeps the necessary knowledge for healing, and assumes a ritualized support role. The stories were passed down from generation to generation - in part to keep our own social memory - but likely more so to establish from the passing of one omega to the next - that role in the tribe which allows for everyone else to think they have worth.

The practice of storytelling is also unique - it requires everyone present to be still and attentive to the one person least qualified to relate then-useful knowledge. Which is not to say that an alpha cannot tell a tale - but rather, the "story for the night" ... or a short story for putting the little ones to bed - would not generally be his job. More than likely the attention drawn around the campfire , or in the days before fire - in the center of the cave - was drawn to a person who had related stylized versions of the tales that others would tell.

For our species, these alpha males are the meat and potatoes - the nutritious part of the 'stone soup' that would result. They freely grant the omega the license to tell their story, only insofar as they are curious to see how the omega could transform their story into something more fanciful. It is a curiosity of how their own mind works. And in this curiosity, religion - myth - legend are born. Legends are well known to be the tales of men - who have been transformed in the telling- to heroes. And their exploits are the reason for our survival. History is a tale told by men who stand on the graves of those who paid its price or brought it to bear - it is a pageant, not a philosophy. And the wilder side of history - the concepts of God, Myth, Legend, Superstition and the Supernatural - were all a part of its telling as one drawn into the circle that gathered around the fire to hear it.

As we progress through the age of our species where the most important influences to our race are now numbered through the design of interracial, global, and highly anonymized transactions made possible through a global, scaleable network - the idea that there is still a supernatural element to the world can seem to fade. The art of storytelling also fades - but this is an illusion. We so need to believe we are better than someone else - or that there exists an omega in our pack that - despite the fact that we are not alpha - at least higher up than him or her (yes, females compete as well) - that we now use internet video, interaction and forum - to extend our existing tribal units and pretend that we have the ultimate shaman, and omega male. We spend countless hours watching inane , amateur happenings on the net. Television did not accomplish this in society - it was a oneway feed - we identified with TV the aspect of mechanical storytelling. The internet, however, is a different game. It doesn't seem to matter to us that the people creating this content are completely separated from any tribe we can strike - we continue to reach out - and attempt to identify those farther and farther away from us as members of our own tribe. And in so doing we kill the art of storytelling.

Because the worth of a story short - is to find that one moment , like eating honey from bees that fly the flowers of your garden - that strengthens you or your immunity to your environment. Be it beast, virus, or other human. Anything that vies locally for resources. And buying chinese product shipped in overseas at 300 percent lower than the price you could actually make a living from - while pretending that someone in Amsterdam could be your friend, is like serving a soup, made only from stone and water - to one's children. Those nearest who would be fascinated that you would try - and would freely give additional ingredient - are too far-flung to be willing to provide the stock, the vegetables, the meat and potatoes that a good stone soup requires.

True, you will get another form of soup if you allow such farflung enterprise. But have you ever thought of the real problem, behind Google? It ranks its results based on user activity. If the entire world is interested in clicking on a link, it will rise to the top. Even if that link is worthless to the species.

And so too with social networking. We do not necessarily profit by being able to re-establish broken social bonds. Or forge them with others who cannot contribute to our local network.

There is a reason why the internet is now so easily and often the means by which our species connects. Just as there is a reason why the child standing next to the other at the bus stop in the morning, is texting a friend instead of talking to those around him or her. And also, that we as a species support the storyteller. They are not always noble reasons, just as really great sex isn't always about pleasing your partner. We take what we need - add what we want and create a special place in society for mutual exploitation - so that our weak, defenseless young can be raised within the protection of a mating pair. And so that we can get some sleep.

At last.