Sunday, March 10, 2013

Made for the Story?

One of the ways to start talking about something is to, well, start talking about it.  To that end, here is the first in a long series of podcasts! Unfortunately I pulled out the mic when we were already a little bit into the conversation, so here's an intro.

We were talking about Jacques Ellul's book On Freedom, Love, and Power in the context of a discussion about how we use stories, especially in a culture where we have stories that can tell us what to do in every decision.  Do we view our myths and stories as boundaries, boxes, that we must live in, or do are they less boundaries and more guides?  Do we have a mixture of the two?  Our discussion is here:

     Were we made for the story, or the story made for us?

     And a second link via Spreaker with it's own forum for comments

And an addendum - here are links and citations to some of the texts and stories referenced in the course of the the discussion.

     Brown, Wendy. States of injury: Power and freedom in late modernity. Vol. 120. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

     As it Happens interview with Tariq Ali on the death of Hugo Chavez

     Ellul, Jacques. On Freedom, Love, and Power. University of Toronto Press, 2010.

     Ingold, Tim. Lines:: A Brief History. Routledge, 2007.

     Selmanovic, Samir. It's Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian. Jossey-Bass, 2009.

     The Hebrew Yeshua versus the Greek Jesus, a presentation by Nehemia Gordon, a Karaite Jew

     Choice: a podcast from Radiolab.

Many of the other stories referenced, The Bible, Rambo, The Shawshank Redemption, The Hurt Locker, and The Hobbit you'll have to find for yourself, as well as the two works by Joss Whedon referenced, Firefly and Angel.


  1. Well, this one's a little raw to begin with, but it does get better. Some questions I might add are: what do stories (myths) mean in our lives? are they confining aspects of our reality? or are they tools to engage the world around us more effectively and meaningfully?

    So perhaps the discussion question is: what are the key stories in your life and how do they impact your life?

    Regarding the discussion of simplicity, I wonder if simplicity is about making framing choices to focus your life story? Eg. choosing to live in a particular place necessarily limits my choices, but that can be a gain rather than a loss. Of course, this requires deliberation in making the choice. it also requires a greater attention to how context shapes my life.

    1. The counterpoint then is do we lose freedom in the face of an overwhelming multiplicity of choice? This might tie into Ellul's discussion of leisure wherein freedom is less about escaping constraint and more about making meaningful choices within a necessarily limited context. In some similar sense, art is always defined by its limits. Art is only possible insofar as it is limited in scope (or perhaps simply only recognizable and meaningful as such because of limitation).

  2. I also need to add a reference to Fred Alford's "Rethinking Freedom." Short but great exploration of the problematic of freedom in our culture.

  3. If nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do
    If nothing we do matters, all that matters is that we do it to death.

    The first is from Joss Whedon's wonderful "Angel"