The Story Animal


Reflections on the Narrative & its extraordinary power to inform, persuade and enchant
Language is one of the primary characteristics of humans and probably the most important. Together with its associated tendency to storification, language sets us apart from the rest of nature. It provides the basis of our personal and cultural identities, and in this sense we are the Story Animal.

In The Story Animal author David G. Wade dives into the many facets where the telling of our own stories touches our lives and that of others; how stories influence belief systems and social structures. From the many interpretations of reality, psychosis and mental illnesses to the meaning of dreams, the use of propaganda and other fascinating observations.

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The Story Animal investigates the existential paradox of human existence – why, since we are clearly the most intelligent species on the planet, do we constantly engage in stupid, ill-advised, objectively unintelligible activities?

Generally speaking, most creatures are content to live their lives in pursuit of the essentials that sustain existence – food, drink, procreation etc. – in this sense the non-human world is entirely rational. In their day-to-day existence all other animals avoid activities that would be detrimental to their continued existence. Of course, humans also do everything they can to survive and flourish, but we are endowed with a set of skills and abilities that set us apart from all other living things – we are brainy, self-aware, highly socialised and most importantly we have Language. Taken together these attributes have made us Masters of the Planet, but they have also inclined us to structure our lives around systems of belief that are not always rational or provident.

In short, since acquiring language, we have relied on Stories – to tell us who we are, of the nature of the greater world and our place in it, how we should behave to others, what we can expect of them. And the human imagination is remarkable inventive in constructing reasons and rationales. But these accounts, whilst supporting the complex cultural attitudes that sustain our social milieus, and our moral sensibilities, can also constrain and distort our otherwise extraordinary intelligence. Unlike all other creatures the majority of our responses and attitudes are mediated by transmitted narratives. At best these provide the basic presumptions and comforts of civilised life – at worst they can lead us to pursue deluded, self-destructive, and occasionally, thoroughly mendacious courses of action.

Additional information


David G. Wade


216mm x 140mm





About the author

David Wade was born and brought up in London, U.K.
He is an art historian and an artist. Most of his published work to date has focused on the interaction of Geometry with art, and this synthesis also informs his own productions.

David also runs the website and blog ‘The Slight Swerve: Human Folly & the Paradox of Human Intelligence’


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