|Nick Brandt. Check out his work.|
Let's start with what may seem an odd tangent. But it is the event that got me started about all of this again, so it seems the logical place to begin.
In the 2nd installment of the Lord of the Rings movies, while gallivanting across the plains in hunt of two errant hobbits, Legolas says, "blood has been spilt on this night," referring to the red sky.
My wife and I watch these movies fairly frequently. At this point it is more about the act of watching rather than what the movies are. Even the stories are so familiar that they are not so much told or presented as just something we are being casually reminded about. When Legolas said that this time, my partner offhandedly said in reply, "no, stupid elf... it's just a result of atmospheric effects." But of course the red sky at morning myth has a long history, regardless of what it is interpreted as.
In a sense this story may also be true, and we like to think it is a more truthful one, but it too is a story. Which is more truthful, and what stories are we using to assess or compare those truths? As we investigated in The Immanence of Myth and the followup Apocalyptic Imaginary, without an understanding of the role that narrative plays in our understanding of the world, truth will remain forever elusive. The world of 500 word soundbytes shies away from subtleties, but myth and stories remain a realm of gray (with more than 50 Shades, one can only hope) and we are more than anything else narrative machines.
That is the primary difference between humans and some apes, and other mammals. We are narrative-minded monkeys. (See also: Mirror Neurons.)
In fact, it is this narrative-making quality that allows us to develop an understanding of ourselves, at all.
"... I also speculated that these neurons can not only help simulate other people's behavior but can be turned 'inward'—as it were—to create second-order representations or meta-representations of your own earlier brain processes. This could be the neural basis of introspection, and of the reciprocity of self awareness and other awareness. There is obviously a chicken-or-egg question here as to which evolved first, but... The main point is that the two co-evolved, mutually enriching each other to create the mature representation of self that characterizes modern humans"