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Another Way for Gnomes to Say "Hooray!"

Saw two movies this week, and it got me thinking about storytelling. Particularly why I'm drawn to certain stories, like Avatar on Wednesday and why others, like the dreadful Terminator: Salvation I saw last night, are completely forgettable.

[Donning the Pompous-Hat]

The world is complex and cannot be simplified. Dealing with the obstacles caused by complexity is the means by which people grow and mature. One begins life with a very simple world view. There is a natural tendency to avoid obstacles, to strive only as far as one needs to in any endeavor; organisms tend to conserve their energy.

Power allows persons to avoid or disregard obstacles. This has the consequence of maintaining a more simplistic world-view than one would otherwise have had. Being able to maintain a simple world-view into physical maturity is a hallmark luxury of the powerful. The limits of this simplicity are set by the degree that one has been able to act with impunity on the world. Simple world views are consequently immature, conservative, and lacking in empathy.

Those without power are forced to adapt to the world, so they must embrace its complexity in order to apprehend the nature of the obstacles that beset them. They must accept limitation as real before attempting to overcome it. This acceptance of limitation is changing to the self, maturing, leading to empathy. Incorporating a realistic level of complexity allows all life to continue, and leads to stability, diversity, and sustainability*.

I think a good story is one in which there is or are protagonists, and that these protagonists grow and mature in the face of obstacles. When a person is entertained and engaged by a story, they absorb the life-lessons of the protagonists, and come to understand a more complex view of the world. Storytelling has always had a pedagogic aspect in this way, but it is important to remember that the story must first engage and entertain or this purpose will be lost.


*This is why reality has a liberal bias. Or as an earlier philosopher put it "The meek shall inherit the earth."