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Chapter 3 Journal Activity

Humans like narratives: Geoffrey of Monmouth

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From a million years ago to 10,000 years ago, to 4500 years ago, to some time before the common era, is too big a range with too few stories. People like Geoffrey, who make claims and spin tales, give us something to hang our hats on. Then, in response to painstaking evidential research, we assimilate these tiny fragments into the narrative we're accustomed to. The discipline of rational research will always be somewhat at odds with human nature, or in tension with it. Is it the same yearning for connection that motivates both disciplined research and the narrative flights of the Geoffreys? Maybe the difference is the degree of patience involved, or tolerance of mystery. I think a good archaeologist tolerates a greater degree of mystery than a myth-maker does, but sometimes a myth-maker's ripping yarn offers a profound way of envisioning mystery that can then inspire someone to get a pick and start digging.

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