Entropy. There. I said. Are you happy? I called out the entropy in the room.
As everyone knows, entropy is a thermodynamic quantity that changes in a reversible process by an amount equal to the heat absorbed or emitted divided by the thermodynamic temperature.
Or, according to Daniel Dávila, entropy can be seen as “the universe’s pesky proclivity for disorder, ensur[ing] that things fall apart.”
Going to bat for her husband, April Dávila wrote a guest post for Daniel about said husband’s blog, specifically about one of his earliest posts, “If we’re all entropy’s bitches, why bother?” That is a fair and good question, Mr. Dávila.
The premise behind the answer is the following: “Story may not be the only way to deal with the ultimate demise of everything, but it’s one of the best. We can’t stop time, but, with story, we can find our place in it.”
I encourage you to read the entire piece about Entropy’s Bitches (this should be a band name), as Mr. Dávila does an interesting job of eventually getting to why storytelling – but really he means writing – is the greatest, most important, without equal among the arts & sciences, humane to the point of being human, job/responsibility in the world.
Which got me thinking about a book I read years ago for my book club called Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality. While performing extensive research upon completing this theory on the evolution of monogamy in humans and human mating systems (get your mind out of the gutter), I came across a fascinating anthropological piece that examined the most important things necessary for human survival.
Not surprisingly, food and water are most critical for our survival. According to one site, we can go about three or four days without water, and about three weeks without food. But this is where the study got interesting. What’s the next most important element for human survival? they asked. Many people might say shelter, and while it’s always nice to have a roof over your head, these anthropologists argued that it was storytelling which came next.
There will never be a way to prove this one way or the other, but deep down I think they’re right. Mankind survived on the savanna for millennia upon millennia without much of anything. And while the invention of weapons backs up the above theory (we need food!), the invention of language, first spoken and then written, lends credence to the “Storytelling Is No. 3” theory.
The why? of this is precisely that which Daniel Dávila gets to in his post, and concludes with a big bang, writing:
“So, the next time you are face to face with the blank page, ask yourself this: What part of my mind, common across culture and history, will help the reader understand her place in impermanence? Or, to put it another way: What experience can I relate that illustrates to the other monkeys that my tree, for now at least, is a safe place to wait out the long night ahead?”