While I disagree with my cheekboned hero about Bush ever having believed in his own strategic lies, I love the connection Byrne draws between political collective consciousness and the storytelling impulse (italics mine):
Fiction and storytelling are stronger than fact — we “make” facts out of fiction. We use fictions to order and interpret evidence. The imagination runs the senses. Until the disconnect is overwhelming and we search for a new story.
We do this in our personal lives and in politics. Nations are people, a person even, and the storytellers guide us to realize our secret desires and wants. It feels better if we all tell the same story. The most gripping fiction feels inexorable, inevitable.
I’m obsessed with all this — with how we can do what, either in retrospect or in the cold light of day, is obviously wrong, counterproductive and harmful — both to ourselves, ultimately, and to others.
This crystallization from the man who wrote "The Girls Want to Be With the Girls"! I would really, really, love to meet David Byrne.
Further reading on this theory of storytelling as the dominant force in psychology can be found in the work of Dr. Robert Sternberg, whom Betty once had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing for a story, and then later interviewed his mother (a Holocaust survivor) for a different story! Both were totally wonderful, gracious, light-hearted and insightful people.
In his 1999 book "Love Is A Story," Sternberg posited:
When you talk to two people who have just split up, their breakup stories often sound like depictions of two completely different relationships. In a sense, they are. Each partner has his or her own story to tell.
Most important to a healthy, happy relationship is that both partners have compatible stories--that is, compatible expectations. Indeed, a 1998 study conducted with Mahzad Hojjat, Ph.D., and Michael Barnes, Ph.D., indicated that the more similar couples' stories were, the happier they were together.
Couples usually start out being physically attracted and having similar interests and values. But eventually, they may notice something missing in the relationship. That something is usually story compatibility. A couple whose stories don't match is like two characters on one stage acting out different plays--they may look right at first glance, but there is an underlying lack of coordination to their interaction.
Sternberg for beginners: on Love, Hate, and Stupidity.
Byrne for beginners: "More Songs About Building and Food" by Talking Heads, and "The New Sins", an intriguing little book.
[Readers, please suggest more Byrniana! Betty's an ecstatic newcomer, too.]