Almost a decade ago, in an article in The New York Times Sunday Review called “The Art of Listening,” the Swedish writer Henning Mankell wrote that “a truer nomination for our species than Homo sapiens, which means the knowing person, might be Homo narrans, the storytelling person.” Mankell’s argument was not that the biologists are wrong or that we are not thinking creatures but rather that we are also – and maybe even primarily – storytelling creatures.
Mankell’s article is less about storytelling, and more about listening. He talks about living portions of the previous 25 years in Mozambique, and how, in seeing the world outside of “European egocentricity,” he discovered that, “in Africa listening is a guiding principle.”
The point so easily gets lost, doesn’t it? If we are storytelling creatures, the stories only make sense if someone is listening.
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