Spirit In Action

Change IS coming. WE can make it GOOD.

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The Archdruid Report: Return of the Space Bats

I’m quite fascinated with this blog so sharing another of his recent posts. The bit below is a rather tiny snippet from a much longer post-which is followed by a plethora of interesting comments.

One of the driving themes of my scholarly research, my fiction and my life in general has been the essential fact that worldview, or more prosaically the stories you believe in and live by, create your world.

This is abundantly evident in the astonishing mess and destruction over most of our beautiful planet wherever colonization and its ridiculous stories hold sway.

I would love to submit a story to the contest in this post-I will surely write one- but one of the requirements excludes all of my tales, written and unwritten.

The world I live in NOW contains magic and magical elements. I can no more create a story lacking such an integral part of reality than I could buy Monsanto stock tomorrow; -)

One reason I fell in love immediately with the stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez was that magical realism truly is both.

One essential problem with the colonized worldview in my opinion is that which they do not understand, they attempt to erase, ignore and declare impossible and unreal.

Which is very like claiming that international trucking and ship transport cannot possibly exist because you do not personally understand how to build and service a diesel engine.

I believe the post-industrial, post peak oil descent will find a rapid widespread return to the awareness of the rest of reality that colonized industrial society tried so hard to erase, eradicate and ignore.

The spirits of the land have never been silenced-it was always our ears that were plugged.

I would love to read your comments about the stories that have moved you, that have helped build your personal view of the world.

I’ve just finished rereading Patricia McKillip’s Riddle Master of Hed trilogy-one of my personal all time favourite stories.

“Most of what’s kept people in today’s industrial world from coming to grips with the shape and scale of our predicament is precisely the inability to imagine a future that’s actually different from the present. Francis Fukuyama’s proclamation of the end of history may have been a masterpiece of unintentional comedy—I certainly read it in that light—but it spoke for an attitude that has deep roots all through contemporary culture. Nor is that attitude limited to the cornucopians who can’t imagine any future that isn’t a linear continuation of the present; what is it that gives the contemporary cult of apocalypse fandom its popularity, after all, but a conviction that the only alternative to a future just like the present is quite precisely no future at all?

It would be pleasant if human beings were so constituted that this odd myopia of the imagination could be overcome by the simple expedient of pointing out all the reasons why it makes no sense, or by noting how consistently predictions made on that basis turn out to be abject flops. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen to be the case. My regular readers will long since have noticed how easily believers in a business-as-usual future brush aside such issues as though nobody ever mentioned them at all, and keep on insisting that of course we can keep an industrial system running indefinitely because, well, because we can, just you watch! The only thing I can think of that compares with this is the acrobatic ingenuity with which believers in imminent apocalypse keep on coming up with new reasons why this week’s prediction of mass death must be true when all previous examples have turned out dead wrong.

What underlies both of these curious phenomena, and a great many other oddities of contemporary culture, is simply that the basic building blocks of human thinking aren’t facts or logical relationships, but stories. The narratives we know are the patterns by which we make sense of the world; when the facts or the testimony of logic don’t fit one narrative, and we have a selection of other narratives to hand, we can compare one story to another and find the one that’s the best fit to experience. That process of comparison is at the heart of logic and science, and provides a necessary check on the normal tendency of the human mind to get stuck on a single story even when it stops making sense.

As I pointed out here in the earliest days of this blog, though, that check doesn’t work if you only have one story handy—if, for example, the story of onward and upward progress forever is the only story about the future you know. Then it doesn’t matter how badly the story explains the facts on the ground, or how many gross violations of logic are needed to explain away the mismatches: given a choice between a failed narrative and no narrative at all, most people will cling to the one they have no matter how badly it fits. That’s the game in which both the cornucopians and the apocalypse fans are engaged; the only difference between them, really, is that believers in apocalypse have decided that the way to make the story of progress make sense is to insist that we’re about to reach the part of it that says “The End.”

The one way out of that trap is to learn more stories—not simply rehashes of the same plot with different names slapped on the characters, mind you, but completely different narrative structures that, applied to the same facts and logical relationships, yield different predictions. That’s what I got from the three novels I’ve discussed in this post. All three were fictions, to be sure, but all three were about that nebulous place we call the future, and all three gave me narratives I could compare with the narrative of progress to see which made the better fit to the facts. I’ve met enough other people who’ve had similar experiences that I’ve come to think of fiction about the future as a powerful tool for getting outside the trap of knowing just one story, and thus coming to grips with the failure of that story and the need to understand the future ahead of us in very different ways.”