Our minds are built for it. We perceive it everywhere. We use it to orientate ourselves.
There is much celebration of narrative, especially in the post-modern post-analytic world. It is the undoing of the industrialisation of the mind.
The mind-as-a-factory has neat compartments, and well-ordered abstractions connected in systems. This is the stuff of academic study. We divide disciplines into carefully-defined key-terms and fight rigorously to improve them, and to describe relations. We try to do in sociology, psychology, or economics what we can do in mathematics or physics. This is alienating and impersonal.
Hence the new attention to narrative. There is talk in school of packaging analytic content in narrative containers. I love his idea, that I first heard from Jason Ohler.
However narrative is also a heady drug. It is expedient, lazy, magical. It is short-hand, pure short-hand.
For instance we reduce the world to heroes and villains. To have neither is just too complicated. So easy, it then becomes, to ascribe corrupt motives to those who hurt us, or who strongly disagree with us, or have undermined us, or made us look silly, or oppose our noble aims.
Or the notion of progress, that starts at the beginning and ends with 'happily ever after', which of course never comes. The endless sub-stories built around day to day goals or the sweeping arcs of long term ambitions.
Heaven forbid that progress be a construction.
We can hardly live without narrative. Yet, it is made up of fictions, self-deceits and convenient distortions.
Well may we tell each other stories. I crave them as much as anyone.
Well may we tell ourselves stories. Narrate our lives to ourselves.
It's the way we are! It's also insanity.