Neil Gaiman recently gave a talk to the Long Now foundation, talking about Stories and how they last. The Long Now foundation was set up to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. Its aim is to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.
In a characteristically wide-ranging and humorous lecture Gaiman talks about the longevity of stories, and how and why they work. Highlights include “Somebody being sacrificed into a volcano. People getting thrown into volcanoes – it always works! In the giant list of things that we authors have, tricks that never fail, right after somebody comes through the door with a gun, it is throw somebody into a volcano!”
Are stories alive? Do they grow? Can stories reproduce? His lecture goes from Ancient China, through to the Ghetto in Nazi occupied Poland – Gaiman’s cousin, Helen Fagin is a holocaust survivor, who used fiction to keep her spirit, and the spirits of those around her, alive during those dark days. He talks about fairy stories, lies, untruths, and damn good stories, concluding “you can view people as this peculiar byproduct that stories use for breeding and transmission. They are symbiotic with us. They are the thing that we have used since the dawn of humanity to become more than just one person.“