For any nation in any age including here and now, the ultimate war is over competing narratives, conflicting power of story.
Snook, as faithful readers can attest, is all about narratives and the power of story — in education, relationships, science, politics, work and play, war and peace, in the meaning of life itself. Search this blog using the phrase “power of story” to stay busy reading and thinking for many hours. Add music/musical theatre and “thinking and feeling” to your search, and plan on making this your new homepage indefinitely. 😉
We’ve animated Snook with epic discussions of the Great Derangement of Matt Taibbi, the language stories and Political Mind of George Lakoff, the political right-speak realism of Frank Schaeffer, the situational ethics of Philip Zimbardo and his Lucifer Effect, Harvard’s Howard Gardner on educating kids to love truth and America instead of fighting over it, Don Beck and Ken Wilber’s memes, Richard Florida and his “creative class” plus meaningful movies from Milk and Mindwalk to Hairspray and Madagascar, not to mention Harry Potter and Stanley Fish, plus the leading science lights of edge dot org.
But nobody tells the story of story better than this new offering from another expert, one with a name that sings a story too, Zach Friend:
Republican: I’d like to begin by making an outrageous assertion. It’s obviously false, but boy, is it ever intense.
Democrat: Why, that is clearly untrue! And here’s a list of reasons why…
Republican: Thanks for playing; this is going to be fun!
. . .You see, the right wants you to debate stuff they know is untrue. If you win on the merits, and you probably will, they don’t care at all.
. . .Throughout human history, we haven’t simply stated the results of heroic battles. We’ve sung them as epics. The Democrats have won some heroic battles on issues that matter to millions: health care, financial reform, the environment and more. We need to sing our epics.
Read anything of Howard Gardner’s on leadership, for example:
“Whether direct or indirect, leaders fashion stories: principally stories of identity. It is important that a leader be a good storyteller, but equally crucial that the leader embody that story in his or her life.”
For the public it’s all about the Right Story first. The best stories have always been theatre rather than textbook, and the winner’s trick is to callously choose one potentially transcendent star from the hordes who audition, not to take your wife’s cousin or some schlep off the street and try to make his life story and ordinary skills into great theatre.
With absolutely everything going for a candidate — a great storyline, a receptive public, plenty of media love and money, etc — that perfect candidate still needs to connect with his (or her) own storyline in such a way that it strikes the public as real, and as real art.
Even THAT doesn’t guarantee success at the very top, though, because there are SO few chances and so many contenders; it just makes it somewhat possible that you’ll get that rare shot, to take a number and be judged against all the other lawyers in the nation with a personal cheering section who think they can dance. Emmitt Smith is the best celebrity dancer ever? Sure, why not . . . great story, and as it happened people bought it. . .
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