The ghost of literary Darwinism rises from the grave… briefly
|September 11, 2013||Posted by News under Evolutionary psychology, News|
Yes, the “Portrait of the Artist as a Caveman” was an easy target aesthetically. But that reckons without grantseekers and earnest educators raising the spook. Thus, we hear, “Might reading literature help with species survival ?”
Dunno. Did it help the trilobite? The cockroach? The mammoth? Oh, wait …
Then again, never mind. We’re just animals like them, right? So … the answer must be YES!
Anyway, Jennifer Vanderbessep reassures us,
But if storytelling gives us an evolutionary edge, does the quality of the story matter? Is there a greater value, so to speak, in one form of storytelling over another? With visual art, the commodification is clear: Inheriting a Matisse gives you a financial leg up over someone inheriting a comic cat poster. Setting aside the rare book business, though, books are not objects. They are experiences.
Does having one experience have more value than another?
If it increases your offspring by only 1%—yes.
Somewhere in this is likely an argument for funding the current art scene.
Fine, but how would it be possible to determine that storytelling increased anyone’s offspring’s chances of survival by any percent? Unless we were shouting at our kids to run from a fire or flood. But that is being the story, not hearing it.
This is what happens when Darwinism hits the arts. No wonder it was such a flop there.