Consciousness as story

"Thomas stood up. ‘What I believe consciousness to be,’ he said, ‘is the ability to tell a story to ourselves. To begin with, it enables us to see time - not as it really is, because we cannot do that - but in representation, at least, as a straight line. You cannot conceive of time in any other way - but the straight line is only a useful metaphor, or representation, not the reality. But once you have a grasp of time - even if it is essentially a misrepresentation - you can start to plan and visualise a past and future, and therefore causality. Likewise, consciousness enables us to make conjectures in which someone called “I” can be seen in a hypothetical situation or a story; and from that flows the ability to make judgements, plans, decisions. In short, consciousness takes the vastness of the physical world, whose coordinates of time and space we cannot really grasp, and gives us a model, a working version - a simplified, toy version if you prefer - in which we can more usefully and successfully operate.’"

- Human Traces, Sebastian Faulks, pp.454-5