Storytelling and Forgetfulness

Amit Chaudhuri at the LARB:

YEARS AGO, I began to run into the claim that we are all storytellers. Evidently, storytelling was a primal communal function for humanity. I was assured that we’ve been telling each other stories since the beginning of time. I felt a churlish resistance to these proclamations, possibly because one might well decide that being human doesn’t mean one should subscribe, without discomfiture, to everything the human race is collectively doing at any given point. Storytelling shouldn’t be guaranteed an aura simply because humans have been at it from the beginning of history.

Of course, part of my unease emanated from the fact that the “beginning of history” is even more of a wishful invention than the “end of history” is. It occurs to me that we probably began to first hear the utterance “we are all storytellers” around the late 1980s and early 1990s. From the moment we first heard this statement, it felt like we’d been hearing it from the beginning of time. As with various things that happened during the age of globalization, radical shifts in our understanding — of value, for instance — swiftly acquired an immemorial air.

more here.