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The Forum > Article Comments > A long, long time ago, in an electorate far away Ö > Comments

A long, long time ago, in an electorate far away Ö : Comments

By Don Arthur, published 11/1/2007

To be effective and persuasive, public intellectuals need to be storytellers and moralists, not just social scientists. Best Blogs 2006

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Don says "Itís as if human beings were hardwired for narrative".

Indeed. Humanity itself is one long unfolding story.

As is it's collective unconscious reflection here, the internet, one unfolding story.

How great the power of story.
Posted by Forum Identity - Robert, Thursday, 11 January 2007 9:35:16 AM
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Wellll strike me lucky and stone the crows.... I now suddenly know why Jesus taught in PARABLES :)
Posted by BOAZ_David, Thursday, 11 January 2007 11:39:06 AM
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Yes everyone likes a good story. But not everyone agrees on what a good story sounds like. And most of all, not everyone agrees on what a true story sounds like. My favourite stories are the grand narratives, the type that help me understand every little situation and the tales the circumstances tell.
Posted by vivy, Thursday, 11 January 2007 12:17:07 PM
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Don, this is a wonderful article and I'm sure you'll enjoy it to be opened up and shared around a bit. Maybe Helen Dale (who's expressed an interest in these things) will join in for the fun of it:

"<i>Whenever we come across something new we try to fit into the framework provided by an old story.</i>" -. One perspective for this is to say that there are precious few dramatic issues which grab a hold of us; some would say there's only one, to which you allude: good v evil. Another perspective would say that receipt of something new throws open a whole new, rebirthing, transformative, reinvented, reincarnated, transcendental (incl of good v evil) world or universe of existence. Each perspective can be taken in levels of, and in part. What's it to be?

"<i>So itís no surprise to find that most of Australiaís top public intellectuals are storytellers and moralists rather than social scientists.</i>" -. Is a storyteller a moralist? (& Vice Versa). Is there an important distinction to be shared? And what is a social scientist if they don't have a story to tell?

I understand much of your prose is referential. But let's have some fun. You say later: "<i>Often our fondness for stories makes us overestimate the influence of the individuals we cast as heroes and villains.</i>" What that is influential are some people overestimating? And, are they overestimating simplicity? What then of simplicity - does that cut to some (other?) core, some essential dramatic issue? Or are you saying the power of story over-rides one's criticial faculties (logic)? If so, how can a story have power, if not to hold a recipient by some essential dramatic issue?

Are then there degrees of revelation? And are there then degrees of storytelling power?

And whose? Which one? Or all? (And if given the chance, your larger quote in the piece is a beauty. A bit: "People need a context". Isn't that, exactly, what scientists do? Create a context?). Here's a cheers to scientists and storytellers. And (Helen!) those who've mind to receive. Shall we play?
Posted by Forum Identity - Robert, Thursday, 11 January 2007 10:39:10 PM
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Interesting piece. As I read it I thought of two issues - Australian government treatment of boat people, and David Hicks.

Boat people - for many years it simply did not register with most Australians that our government was systematically and deliberately treating around 11,000 boat people unauthorised arrivals - call them what you will, men women and children, even babies born here, with huge cruelty, as an exercise in deterrence and sending messages
(probably, to powerful figures in Indonesia who had tried to give Australia a smack in the eye after East Timor's secession). It only began to dawn on mainstream Australians what we were doing to these defenceless people in our community when the stories of Vivian Solon and Cornelia Rau broke. Then finally something good began to happen, though it still has a way to go.

Similarly with David Hicks. For years our government got away with negatively sterotyping this young Australian man as a monster, a real and present danger to our society. No punishment, no violation of the basic human right since Magna Carta to a fair and prompt trial, was too bad for him. And most Australians for years swallowed this crap. But eventually it became a human story about a poor Australian kid in a foreign torture prison without trial for 5 years. Gradually, the people involved - David, his father Terry, his brave lawyers Stephen Kenny and Michael Mori - acquired public personalities. We - the Australian majority - began to see the tragedy ahd injustice in this story. Now,government figures are scurrying for cover - Ruddock, Keelty, and the ALP are finding courage to voice real dissent on the issue. It won't be long before the Hicks tragedy ends, one way or another the political ice is cracking - because it has become a human story.

Now we need a human story to make us really underatand the tragedy of what our policies have done to the suffering people of Iraq. Many are still trying to obscure that true story. We will see through their spin.
Posted by tonykevin 1, Sunday, 14 January 2007 10:45:28 PM
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