David Metcalfe writes on Modern Mythology:
“If I were a betting man or woman, I would say that certain types of stories might be addictive and, neurobiologically speaking, not that different from taking a tiny hit of cocaine.”
—William Casebeer of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
Despite the fact that it’s readily apparent Mr. Casebeer has never tried cocaine, DARPA’s current interest in narratives is an interesting development at an agency known for unique scientific inquiries. On April 25 and 26th DARPA held a conference called Narrative Networks (N2): The Neurobiology of Narratives. The purpose of this conference was to follow up a Feburary 26th event which sought to outline a quantitative methodology for measuring the effect of storytelling on human action.
We owe much of the early development of the internet to DARPA, along with remote viewing, remote controlled moths, invisibility cloaks and other wonders of the contemporary age. Now they’ve got their sites set on stories, and we can be assured that, in the near future, there will be some fatly funded scientific justification for what we already know. I mean, come on, Modern Mythology and Weaponized just published The Immanence of Myth exploring this very topic, and I assure you there’s more in there than a tiny hit to get you inspired.
And that’s the unfortunate thing about these scientific inquiries, they’re always years (usually centuries) behind the times. I seem to recall an author who spent his entire career developing this theory, and effectively influencing television, film and music with his ideas. Who was that? Something about word viruses? Oh, yes, William S. Burroughs. Who in turn got much of his inspiration from other thinkers like Brion Gysin, Alfred Korzybski, and really beyond all this name dropping, what true poet or writer doesn’t understand the fact that their writing takes on an effective reality?
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