Everything you know is a story.

Everything you know is a story.

You get out of your car and, because you don’t want it stolen, you take the keys.

You just told yourself a story, one in which you come back later and find your car gone. And because you don’t want that story to come true, you do something to make sure it doesn’t.

You slip on the stairs and instantly grab the bannister. How did you know to do that? Because in a flash your brain told you a story about falling and getting hurt.

You see a banana peel on the sidewalk… Yeah. You know the story.

Everything you know is a story. That’s how human consciousness works.

Your brain takes in the vast overlapping cacophony of your neural inputs — sights, sounds, sensations — and reorders them into narratives that make sense to you. Often it does this after the fact, after it’s already spontaneously done what it’s programmed to do to keep you intact. Which is precisely why stories have entranced people since they became people. They’re the only way we can understand the world. That’s a long and still developing story and nobody tells it better than Mike Gazzaniga. If you haven’t read him yet, start here.

Or not. We won’t be talking about the science here.

We’re going to talk about the stories. The long ones, the short ones. The good ones, the bad ones. The ones you already know, the ones you haven’t heard yet. And we’re going to talk a lot about the ones that haven’t been written yet.

Yes, I said “written.” The universe isn’t linear, life itself isn’t linear, but stories are. And they are written, even in this image-saturated digital age. But we’ll get to that.

This is the beginning. Next comes the middle, followed by… Of course. Because, all together now:

Everything you know is a story.

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