Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A mania for meaning

I've been meaning to share these two passages from a book I just finished reading that I'd recommend to all of you, "The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block and the Creative Brain," by Alice W. Flaherty:

"The need for narrative, the need to place events in stories, shapes much of our writing and speech. Linking facts into cause-and-effect chains makes them easier for our brains to absorb, making them more memorable for readers and even for the writer. Creating narrative links gives a sense that there are casual chains that will allow us to predict and control events in the future, a sense that is not always true."

"In the end, using writing to give cognitive meaning to events may parallel an equally deep human need, the need to give emotional meaning to an existence that is opaque. The universal desire to feel that life has some purpose is perhaps stronger in writers, whose occupation instills in them a mania for meaning."

(I especially relate to that last line. Weird, huh?)