Yielding helplessly to the suction of story…

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a metaphor from Jonathan Gottschall…

Jonathan Gottschall is an American literary scholar who teaches at Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. I can no longer remember who recommended to me his fascinating book, The Storytelling Animal, but I highly recommend it.

In addition to being filled with compelling facts — did you know that an average daydream is about 14 seconds long and that we have about 2,000 of them each day? — the book also offers some terrific figurative language.

Here is my favourite:

Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story.

I love that image of suction — so strong, so evocative. And, for me, it’s the perfect image to describe the power of story.

In an interview with Gottschall, appearing on the Amazon sales page, he offered an interesting reflection on whether the “science” of story diminishes the “magic” of it. Here is what he says:

I get this question a lot. The answer is “No! A thousand times, no!” Science adds to wonder; it doesn’t dissolve it. Scientists almost always report that the more they discover about their subject, the more lovely and mysterious it becomes. That’s certainly what I found in my own research. The whole experience left me in awe of our species–of this truly odd primate that places story (and other forms of art) at the very center of its existence.

Only humans tell stories. They’re part of what makes us human.

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