Narratives and Realities. How our stories can serve society today.

Programm 2018

Raum 4   |   11:30 - 12:45 Uhr


Narratives and Realities. How our stories can serve society today.

We like to think of storytelling as a ‘free’ activity, limited only by the creativity of the storytellers. But is it? In this talk and discussion, we will take a step back to illuminate some of the larger framings that impact dramatic storytelling but which are largely invisible and unrecognized. Working as a script consultant, I find myself sometimes recommending to a producer to drop a project because either the story or the writer is burdened by too many internal contradictions for the story development to work out. In fact, this happens more often recently. We may call these difficulties ‘creative blind spots’, with the expectation that we can ‘jump over them’ with a trick of technique. But there is more to it: a neurotic author will write a neurotic story; a sociopathic author will write a story laced with sociopathy. Lacking basic psychic wholeness, they cannot do otherwise, nor are they capable of deeply understanding the basis of a healthy personality. This limits their creativity, though they may ‘connect’ with certain audiences. Beyond this, the ‘Market’ tells us what stories can be told through the media, and what stories cannot be told. The ‘Market’ in turn rests on both ideologies and technologies. Storytelling in today’s media is caught between ideology as narrative and technology as narrative. The feedback loops of manufactured postures, tastes, and perspectives powered by a dominant ideology generate a 'Weltanschauung-as-screen'. Many naively take the play of images on this screen for reality. Now, however, we are aware that our culture has in many ways a distorted view of reality—perhaps fatally distorted. We will trace the outlines of the manufactured ‘Weltanschauung-as-screen’ that emerged post WW2, was significantly modified in 1989-93 and again after 9/11, and how that has conditioned both drama and society. We will also explore the emerging ‘antithetical’ narrative coming from ecology, systems theory, and the global justice movement, and the implications that new narrative has for new stories waiting to be told.

Keith Cunningham