Posts for Tag: storytelling

Avoiding "torn-to-pieces-hood"

The strongest argument I've seen yet for unplugging comes in an appreciation of The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning at Brain Pickings. Here's the passage that makes the case most convincingly for me. I wish I could count the times I've been frustrated by a "just-the-facts-ma'am" approach that made a more leisurely investigation and conversation impossible. I'm deep into the telling of Dorothea Brooke's story in Middlemarch (and still finding surprises), but I'm looking forward to following the whole argument of The Spirituality of Imperfection.

Without imperfection’s ‘gap between intentions and results,’ there would be no story.


Listening to stories and telling them helped our ancestors to live humanly — to be human. But somewhere along the way our ability to tell (and to listen to) stories was lost. As life speeded up, as the possibility of both communication and annihilation became ever more instantaneous, people came to have less tolerance for that which comes only over time. The demand for perfection and the craving for ever more control over a world that paradoxically seemed ever more out of control eventually bred impatience with story. As time went by, the art of storytelling fell by the wayside, and those who went before us gradually lost part of what had been the human heritage— the ability to ask the most basic questions, the spiritual questions.

For the record, here's another passage to appreciate via William James and Brain Pickings.

This is not a spirituality for the saints or the gods, but for people who suffer from what the philosopher-psychologist William James called ‘torn-to-pieces- hood’ (his trenchant translation of the German Zerrissenheit). We have all known that experience, for to be human is to feel at times divided, fractured, pulled in a dozen directions … and to yearn for serenity, for some healing of our ‘torn-to-pieces-hood.’