Reading The Iliad lately has put me in mind of an interesting question: Can you discern a society’s evolutionary progress in the kinds of stories it tells? Or perhaps a better, more generalized version of the question would be this: What can you tell about a society (if anything) by the kinds of stories it tells? I’m sure a ton of thinking has been done on this, but since I’m not about to round it all up, consume it, and digest it this afternoon, this blog post will have to do.
I’d say we’re actually in a unique position in narrative history, given three things:
- (a) our unprecedented access to stories that have gone before (Homer wrought his poems maybe two or three thousand years ago, after all)
- (b) the unprecedented production of new stories that takes place in our own time, and
- (c) our unprecedented ability to distribute those stories to massive audiences in the widest variety of media that’s ever existed
But do the kinds of stories we choose to tell these days say much about who we are as a society at large? It wasn’t Homer who sparked these thoughts so much as it was George Lucas, actually… Continue reading