“You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it.”
— Margaret Atwood
This need to express, to tell stories, seems universal. Talking with Patt Morrison a while ago, you referred to storytelling as part of an “ancient human tool kit.” You have also talked extensively with Bill Moyers about human impulses toward religion, which seems to be related.
It’s actually part of the same kit, or very close.
Can you talk about that?
Let’s talk about language and what happens when human language comes into existence, with a complex grammar that we must’ve spent millennia working on. Once you have a past tense that can infinitely regress, you’re always going to come to the question, “What happened at the beginning?” And once you have a future tense that can recede indefinitely into the future, you’re going to come eventually to, “What happens next?” Then, after that, “What happens to me?” (laughs) And you’re going to get to a place where you’re going to get either happily ever after or fry in hell forever. (laughs) . . .