mundane_and_naive's recent activity

  1. Comment on I want to learn programming in ~comp

    Link Parent
    I also came across that thread back then too (thanks @cfabbro for the reminder), there are a lot technical advices there but everyone also more or less stopped short at "you need to figured out...

    I also came across that thread back then too (thanks @cfabbro for the reminder), there are a lot technical advices there but everyone also more or less stopped short at "you need to figured out what you want to do first", which is my predicament because I don't even know what's out there to even have a preference about. My irl friends were also the same way. It seems as if people have to started out already knowing what they want to do otherwise there's no way in.

    My current work is technician for a biotech lab, I mostly work with chemicals. I guess I don't have any interest yet since I come at this question primarily out of pragmatism and not passion. Hopefully I'll develop some interest once I start learning something, but that lead us back to the issue of "in order to chose what to learn, I need to know what I want to get into first". It's a catch-22. Maybe if there's some kind of guide for potential fields, what's required and what to expect entering those fields, etc. to serve as a starting point.

    What you said about no easy money for novice also worries me. I don't need high pay or anything like that, as long as it's enough to survive. Though with the recent layoffs and the future prospect of AI cutting off opportunities for low level jobs, it doesn't seem there's much hope for outsiders like me.

    4 votes
  2. I want to learn programming

    I currently don't know anything about programming so am considering picking this up on the side in case I loose my current job and need a backup plan. Anyone knows any good books or online courses...

    I currently don't know anything about programming so am considering picking this up on the side in case I loose my current job and need a backup plan. Anyone knows any good books or online courses or anything else for self-learning?

    My friends said programming is too broad a subject and what you need to learn depends heavily on what fields you want to go in, which I'm ashamed to admit also know nothing about. So I guess I need some career advice too if possible.

    19 votes
  3. Comment on Tildes Pop-up Book Club: Roadside Picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky in ~books

    Link Parent
    Do you know if there's a place for finding short stories? I want to start getting into the habit of reading but don't yet have a favorite author to follow or preference for any particular genres.

    Do you know if there's a place for finding short stories? I want to start getting into the habit of reading but don't yet have a favorite author to follow or preference for any particular genres.

    1 vote
  4. Comment on What is Metamodernism? The era that follows postmodernity in ~humanities

    Link Parent
    Not sure ;) For now if I were to follow a comparison as made in another video that touched on this: then I guess that song was still doing things the post-modern way unless the show make a story...

    Not sure ;)

    For now if I were to follow a comparison as made in another video that touched on this:

    If post-modernism breaks the fourth wall in order to take you out of the story then metamodernism breaks the fourth wall to open the story up and invite you in because we love a good story.

    then I guess that song was still doing things the post-modern way unless the show make a story out of it somehow.

    1 vote
  5. Comment on What is Metamodernism? The era that follows postmodernity in ~humanities

    Link Parent
    Burnham's Inside is a musical comedy special about online cultures so a lot of the songs in it are framed using internet language. For example, there's a bit about excessive self criticism but in...

    Burnham's Inside is a musical comedy special about online cultures so a lot of the songs in it are framed using internet language. For example, there's a bit about excessive self criticism but in the style of reaction videos, or another bit about being stuck inside and feeling depressed but in the style of a let's play.

    The opening song Content is in similar vein, @MimicSquid's comment already addressed the underlying dynamics but in this specific case, it was done that way only as framing for the subject matter of the special.

    The song includes lines like "[...] I made you some content - Daddy made you your favorite - Open wide - Here comes the content [...]" so I don't think there was any seriousness behind it.

    2 votes
  6. Comment on Tildes Pop-up Book Club: Roadside Picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky in ~books

    Link Parent
    No worries I haven't been in a book club either, just thought of something that I felt would help me, open floor is perfectly fine too (I think) so no need to force a format if you didn't intend too.

    No worries I haven't been in a book club either, just thought of something that I felt would help me, open floor is perfectly fine too (I think) so no need to force a format if you didn't intend too.

    1 vote
  7. Comment on A few final links before signing off for the year in ~talk

    Link Parent
    I hope this won't be interpreted in a bad way but I think that's a good thing, taking care of our real-life selves is more important than our online selves. Also maybe if we normalize self-banning...

    I hope this won't be interpreted in a bad way but I think that's a good thing, taking care of our real-life selves is more important than our online selves. Also maybe if we normalize self-banning there won't be as much stigma in seeing someone being banned.

    5 votes
  8. Comment on What is Metamodernism? The era that follows postmodernity in ~humanities

    Link Parent
    Sorry for being misleading the quote in my top comment was out of context. Earlier in the article they talked about how ironic sincerity is already a familiar dynamics on social media. I think...

    Sorry for being misleading the quote in my top comment was out of context. Earlier in the article they talked about how ironic sincerity is already a familiar dynamics on social media. I think 'cringe' was used in that quote only as a tongue-in-cheek way of referencing that.

    2 votes
  9. Comment on What is Metamodernism? The era that follows postmodernity in ~humanities

    Link Parent
    Oh hey I watched that one too, it's what got me started on this quest looking for more!

    Oh hey I watched that one too, it's what got me started on this quest looking for more!

    1 vote
  10. Comment on What is Metamodernism? The era that follows postmodernity in ~humanities

    (edited )
    From what little I can tell, people have been searching for "the next big thing" after postmodernism for a while now. Anyone knows any other proposals beside metamodernism?

    From what little I can tell, people have been searching for "the next big thing" after postmodernism for a while now. Anyone knows any other proposals beside metamodernism?

    3 votes
  11. Comment on What is Metamodernism? The era that follows postmodernity in ~humanities

    (edited )
    Got curious about metamodernism and found this link via a simple Google search. Can anyone judged the quality of this site? Anyone have better materials on this subject that are still approachable...

    Got curious about metamodernism and found this link via a simple Google search. Can anyone judged the quality of this site? Anyone have better materials on this subject that are still approachable by layman?

    Edit (under construction):

    Some links I'm collecting for my own self-learning

    [this site] is a catalog of cultural products and artifacts that in some way bear an aesthetic signature that exemplifies metamodernism. We’ve culled these exemplars from film, television, music, literature, social trends, architecture, religion, politics, advertising, language and more.

  12. Comment on What is Metamodernism? The era that follows postmodernity in ~humanities


    [...] The Metamodern tone has been characterised as ironic sincerity.

    It uses irony as a delivery mechanism for deep sincerity.

    There’s no better example of this than Bo Burnham’s masterpiece of Metamodernism Inside [...] The opening song of the special is called Content.

    This song epitomises ironic sincerity. When Inside was released, it had been 5 years since the release of Burnham’s previous special and so there was something of an elephant in the room.

    How can you explain to the fans that love you why you’ve been away for 5 years? He could have opened with a heartfelt moment to apologise to the fans and explain that he’d been having some troubles with mental health. But he couldn’t do that because that would be cringe.

    He could have given into the Postmodern straitjacket that limits this type of expression. He could have justified it as not needing to explain himself to his audience. He could have played it cool. But that’s not a great option either.

    And so instead Burnham integrated it into the opening song. The song is hilarious, it’s catchy and it says sorry in a joking ironic way but one that overflows with sincerity. Genius.

    He doesn’t say sorry please forgive me and I hope you like it. Except that he does but he wraps in a container of sweet, sweet irony that makes this earnest message wholesome rather than cringey.

    And that is the very essence of the Metamodern tone. It’s acknowledging the cynicism of Postmodernism which sees in most forms of earnestness a sort of performativity. The ironic packaging acknowledges this, modestly mocking itself but in doing so it reveals an earnestness.

    4 votes
  13. Comment on Tildes Pop-up Book Club: Roadside Picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky in ~books

    Link Parent
    May I ask what would be the format of the follow-up topic? Since people are likely going to finish at different paces, some may want to note down their thoughts first while it's fresh. Knowing...

    May I ask what would be the format of the follow-up topic? Since people are likely going to finish at different paces, some may want to note down their thoughts first while it's fresh. Knowing ahead of time what they'd need to address when the new thread is open can be helpful for preparing the draft.

    2 votes
  14. Comment on Tildes Video Thread in ~misc

  15. Comment on Tildes Video Thread in ~misc

    (edited )
    Link Parent
    12: Storytelling meets Postmodernism (Truth-Uncertainty) Previously I discussed how quantum physics combined with psychoanalytical dreams gave us magical realism in which ordinary turned into...
    12: Storytelling meets Postmodernism (Truth-Uncertainty)

    Previously I discussed how quantum physics combined with psychoanalytical dreams gave us magical realism in which ordinary turned into bizarre and random. This was absent from storytelling for almost 300 years of rational thinking dominating our sciences and literature. But quantum physics and the mystery of the unconscious questioned our human ability to really understand reality. So truth-telling became a lot more challenging.

    The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche challenged western philosophy by arguing that rationalist humanism was no antidote to nihilism that was spreading after the death of god. God symbolised one truth. But science killed it and replaced it with rational-empirical truth. But this rational truth couldn’t satisfy our innate human thirst for meaning in life. For Nietzsche the solution was art. For Schopenhauer it was music. For Sartre it was defining the self and for Camus it was work and creativity. But Nietzsche also questioned the single universal truth posited by western philosophy. This became the basis of a new philosophical tradition that took a stronger root in France. It’s generally understood as postmodernism or sometimes called relativism in which the European way of seeking truth was questioned and argued that there is no single truth. Other cultures can have as much claim to the truth as the Europeans did.

    After the philosophical postmodernism in the 2nd half the 20th century, it also influenced literature and storytelling. Now truth-telling was no longer the domain of the powerful Europeans. This also coincided with yet another big historical event, the decolonisation of Asia and Africa so new post-colonial voices became prominent in literature. So now Europeans no longer held the political dominance and postmodernism also questioned its legitimacy as the source of truth-telling. New voices from other parts of the world came to the fore.

    It wasn’t just the truth that was challenged, Nietzsche also challenged individuals as a solid entity but rather as a malleable and fragmented entity, since we have no prior essence. This was particularly hammered in by Sartre, it opened the possibility that you could be anything you wanted. Existentialist philosophers such as Sartre and Camus also influenced literature by focusing on the meaning of life as an existentialist quest. Absurdism is most visible in the works of the Irish playwright Samuel Becket, specially in his famous play Waiting for Godot in which nothing happens.

    Later in the 21st century, environmentalism, vegetarianism and veganism also brought other animals to the fore, so now human’s perspective is no longer the only valid perspective. We ought to consult dogs, cows, pigs, birds and reptiles. For example in Haruki Murakami’s novels, he often introduces animals as major characters who are often on the same level as humans. In other words, we humans no longer have the monopoly in stories and moral superiority to decide what’s good and what’s bad. This is also often called post-humanist literature in which the humans are not the gods of this earth, but just another species. In some literary works, humans are the villains on earth because we have caused the extinction of many plants and animal species.

    One of the earliest post-colonial pieces of literature is Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness published in 1899.

    It tells the story of European colonialism in Africa. The story follows a journey through the Congo River in search of a mythical, yet brutal European man, named Kurt who is not there to civilise or build Africa but loot it of its prized commodities.

    But despite it pioneering a new look at colonialism, it still sees things from a European gaze. To give a more African perspective, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart published in 1957, tells the story of colonialism from the other side so to speak.

    Its protagonist is an African strong man, Okonkwo, who grows up humiliated by his feeble father, who is mocked by everyone for his weak artistic sensitivities, pacifism, and laziness. To compensate, Okonkwo becomes a wrestling champion, grows vegetables, and rules his house and three wives with an iron fist. He’s a proud and very violent man. During a tribal warfare, a boy is captured and kept in his household and he becomes like a father to him. When the tribe decides to kill the boy to prevent further violence, Okonkwo has a dilemma, but he doesn't want to show weakness so he takes part in the murder of the boy. He’s shaken a bit. Then some time later he accidentally kills someone of his own tribe when his gun goes off, so he is exiled for 7 years in a different village.

    During this time the white Christians show up and build their churches. Okonkwo’s own son converted to Christianity. When a white man’s killed, the European colonial ruler massacres a whole village in revenge. Okonkwo is furious but there is nothing he can do. After 7 years he returns to find his village unrecognisable under the white people's reign. When a Christian church is burned down, Okonkwo is arrested. Once a huge fine is paid by the village, he is freed. At this point he has had enough. He kills a white man. When the white authorities show up, he is nowhere to be seen. Later they discover that he has committed suicide. He couldn't bear witnessing his world falling apart.

    Achebe’s novel is a revolutionary piece of literature as it sees Europe through the lens of tribal Africans’ encounter with the white colonisers. But what’s crucial here is that neither the African hero nor the Europeans are painted as good or bad, but a bit of both.

    So here we see that modernity, while great in many ways, was achieved through a lot of brutality in Africa. This is also depicted in our next novel, in which modernity tries to tame a man who is not able to cry. Published in 1942, The Stranger is Camus’s most famous novel.

    It tells the story of Meursault, a French man who lives in Algeria. The story has three main plot points or three deaths: the death of Meursault’s mother, the murder of an Arab man, and finally Meursault’s own execution. The awareness of death makes humans unique in the animal kingdom, so each death awakens something in Meursault from his animal state of indifference and gives him clarity of sorts. If Sartre said we are condemned to be free, Camus says we are condemned to death, but also to be guilty, if we do not cry and show emotions.

    Meursault gets the news that his mother has died of old age. He takes time off work to be at her funeral, but contrary to common societal expectation he doesn’t cry or show sadness. He acts as though nothing has happened. He drinks, he smokes and he has sex with girlfriend. He’s also indifferent to those around him, including his boss, girlfriend and neighbours.

    One day, Meursault, while walking on the beach, encounters the same Arab man who had a quarrel with Meusault’s friend. He’s armed with a knife. Meursault shoots him, not one time but five times. He is arrested and put in prison. He promptly confesses to the murder. But why did you kill him? His only explanation is that the sun was too hot and bright so he acted instinctively and somewhat reflexively. While in prison, days turn to weeks, then months and years, as he waits for his trial. In court, the focus is not so much on the murder of an Arab man, but more on Meursault’s inability to cry at his mother’s funeral, therefore, the prosecutor portrays him as a remorseless monster. He is sentenced to death.

    As he waits for his execution, Meursault spends days soul-searching to understand his fate. Finally he settles on one incredible conclusion, nobody can escape death. This simple, yet profound conclusion allows Meursault to accept his fate. He is finally awakened to the human condition. He was an animal but now he realises death as a human experience. Meursault is finally happy.

    In the Stranger, Albert Camus shows the absurdity of life in the face of death. Despite our deep urge for meaning, life offers us no meaning, so Camus argues that the only way to find happiness is to accept the absurd. Life’s absurd because we can only understand it by understanding death. It’s through the lens of death that we can be happy in life.

    But Camus also reveals something about modernity. Modernity is predicated on the idea of taming nature through science and technology, but most importantly modernity is also an attempt to tame men. So Meursault’s lack of emotion is a problem for modernity. The justice system has to break him down so he is able to cry. So a criminal who is unable to cry is more guilty than a criminal who is able to cry. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, it was the female prostitute who tamed Enkudu and in the Beauty and the Beast, it was the woman who tamed the beast, but in Camus’s Stranger, it is the legal system that tames Meursault. So modernity uses a rational mechanism to tame and civilise men, while in olden time it was through sexuality.

    Now we move from the courthouse of modernity to enter the bottomless well of human imagination. Jorge Luis Borges’s The Library of Babel was published in 1941 after a head injury to the author which transformed him from an ordinary writer to an extraordinary one.

    The short story tells the story of a librarian who is giving a tour of a library. The building is hexagonal that goes infinitely in any direction. To show the true size of it, he says if he is thrown down after his death he would decompose on the way down, so his tomb would be in the air. In other words, human imagination is infinite. How to anchor this bottomless well? However to counter-balance this infinite endlessness of this library, the shelves on each wall, books, pages, lines and words all have fixed numbers.

    In other words, it is our rationality that limits things. Rationality allows us to solidify our endless imagination. In other words, reason anchors down our imagination. So the idea that the education system which predated on rationality kills creativity. It seems the library has existed forever. Many have tried to understand and organise the books but it is futile because for every rational thing you find, there are millions of irrational nonsense.

    People believe the library is complete, containing all books ever written. But the search for the origin of the library has caused a lot of misery among librarians. Some committed suicide, some destroyed books in frustration, some worshipped some books, which has caused many conflicts. Despite the library being infinite, if you travel far enough in any direction, shelves and books are repeated, therefore suggesting that the library is cyclical and periodic.

    The old idea of certainty about the world is challenged by Borges’s power of storytelling. Why? Because human imagination is infinite. No matter how rational we become, there is no way you can tame our human imagination. Rationality is barely a scratch in our endless conscious mind.

    We move from infinite imagination to infinite space. Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, is often considered a postmodernist novel. It combines many media forms to tell the story of racism, colonialism, conspiracy and astrophysical science.

    Set in Europe during the Second World War, it tells how the Nazis and the corporate machine were working together, how the war machine was fuelled by corporate greed on both sides. At the heart of the novel is the quest to uncover the German V-2 rocket programme. The plot is full of bizarre sex-related activities as well as fantasies about death and immortality. There are also elements of psychological experiments.

    But at the heart of the novel is the second law of thermodynamics or entropy that everything is heading towards decay. In other words, the central theme of the novel is that history is not moving towards perfection as seen through a western philosophical lens, but towards paranoia and destruction. European modernity rests on the idea that we are moving towards perfection, progress and justice. But according to this novel, that is not the case. Our weapons have become so sophisticated that it only means an inevitable destruction. Just as Borges showed the limitlessness of human imagination, it also means our unlimited desire for destruction.

    Speaking of destruction, war is the main theme of our next novel. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut was published in 1969, in which he infused science fiction with satire and postmodernism.

    It’s also an anti-war novel that uses science fiction to allow the main character, a war veteran, to travel to his past. The novel reflects on the nature of war and the meaning of life or lack of it. The narrator remembers bits and pieces of his past war memories. Those memories come to him at random in a kind of flashback. He is almost suspended between the past and the present, with neither being a comfortable place for him. This psychological uncertainty is also reflected in the novel’s lack of clear structure. The main characters seem as lost as we the reader are which is a very clever storytelling technique.

    The novel tells us that our being on this earth, the conception in which millions of sperms compete for one egg, birth, coming through a narrow canal that squeezes your head, growing up all are so unlikely events that the existence of wars which destroys all that in a blink of an eye seems not only stupid but highly absurd. Life is such an amazing miracle that it raises the question why we are so eager to wage war in order to end many lives.

    It’s a novel of being in time, travelling in time, and seeking purpose in time. Time is a prison we all live in. But ultimately it is a novel of uncertainty. Life is anything but certain. And to make it even more uncertain, we wage wars against each other because this uncertainty is not enough apparently.

    So for thousands of years human storytelling was based on natural uncertainties such as death, wars, sexual urge and laughter. Then we became the master of earth and tried to tame nature and reduce the natural uncertainties, so storytelling centred around human-made certainties fuelled by reason and sciences such as physical reality, biological truths, psychological depth and quantum uncertainty. Then we slowly questioned this man-made rational certainty. So we live in a post-modern or post-certainty.

    But one thing is clear, storytelling is our only solid weapon to fight uncertainty. It’s through storytelling that we try to make sense of the world and bring a bit of clarity to our chaotic lives.

    So in the next segment I will first summarise what I have discussed so far and give you a future prediction of storytelling.

    Conclusion: Future of Storytelling

    Back in the days, our early human ancestors discovered fire so they cooked their food. Cooked meat allowed faster digestion. Now they had more time to do other things. Among those other things, came time to reflect and think. We became a hunting machine who could also think and ponder. Then we became aware of death. Our high level of consciousness gave us the knowledge that we would die one day. As Dostoevsky said, consciousness, while amazing as it is in our understanding of the world and ourselves, is also a disease in that it makes us anxious about our own demise one day. While ignorance might be bliss for most animal species, we humans cannot escape the knowledge of our death. We know we have a finite amount of time.

    So what did our ancestors do to combat the fear of death? We invented one of the most important tools ever. It wasn’t the wheel, or weapons or the discovery of fire. It was our story. We invented stories to give our limited lives on earth meaning. Our earliest human stories that have survived today are about immortality. Religious stories about the afterlife means we gave ourselves an extra life after this life. This basically means that death is nothing, it is just a passage to the afterlife. Then these tales became origin stories, i.e. where have come from, and heaven and hell, i.e. where we are heading. Then gods came into the mix and then demons and beasts. One of the most important works of human literature is the Epic of Gilgamesh who travels far and wide in search of real immortality. But his focus shifts from religious understanding to leaving a concrete legacy as an attempt to live forever. A concrete city. Today we all try to leave a legacy, through making babies, arts, monuments, businesses, buildings, charities, etc. Once we invented gods, our storytelling shifted more towards wars, in which good guys battled the bad guys, or believers against non-believers, so we have war epics that are read even to this day. It’s the same story in every part of the world, from ancient Greece to ancient India, China, Middle East and Africa. These epics became the biggest weapon for empires to unite a huge swath of people around a common enemy. If storytelling was triggered by mortality, human conflict gave it its fuel. Even to this day, stories must have conflict in order for us to enjoy it. Since in most conflicts in history, one side defeated the other, the victors had all the spoils. This meant the ability to mate with women. Then storytelling turned to mating and sex to tell us some great romances. With sex came laughter and comedy.

    So early storytelling was about grown up men who invented stories to combat their mortality, then went to war to defeat the bad guys and came home to mate with the women and afterwards had some laughs.

    This is the story of our literature up until about 400 years ago, when the age of reason put humans as the masters of earth. We didn’t need gods or nature to guide us, we used our reason and science to tame nature. As we humans utilised rationality more, storytelling told stories of reason and its limitations. Then storytelling took us back to nature through the romantics. Reason alone wasn’t enough, we needed passion too. Then storytelling thought passion is all good and well, we need to talk about the ordinary heroes, the poor and the middle class. So realism told the stories of everyday men and women’s struggles in life. Then Darwin changed everything. We’re animals. So storytelling moved to look at our deeper animalistic tendencies through naturalism that told stories of how we survive and thrive as animals. But naturalism mainly focused on the social or group aspect of human life as in packs or herds i.e. class or community and didn’t cover what went inside the individual mind. So storytelling entered the consciousness of the individual to let out what was happening inside, consciously or subconsciously through modernism. So storytelling became akin to dreaming. And this dreaming turned storytelling into magic through magical realism.

    So to put it very crudely we have come a full circle. We started with magical tales of monsters, demons and fairies and slowly woke to embrace reason and sciences but then we slowly returned for a bit more magical spontaneity. The final phase has been post humanism in which we move away from humans to robots and other animals.

    So what’s next for storytelling?

    For thousands of years we told stories and those stories in turn shaped us how we viewed the world. Stories are like nests or web or hammock or window. They shape our mind, thoughts and psychology. We see the world like a story which gives us clarity and meaning. When this narrative perspective breaks down, we break down too. When our life lacks a story, we lose hope. We lose purpose. We lose all meaning. So stories give us hope, purpose, meaning and motivation.

    Just as it evolved to give our ancestors purpose beyond the fear of death, stories still give each individual a purpose that his or her life is meaningful or he or she is heading somewhere. This is why we wake up every morning, go to work and repeat that until we no longer can. Simply because we tell ourselves a story. Our level of motivation depends on how solid or sturdy our story is. So when storytelling dies, we humans die. That’s when you know that robots have taken over.

    No matter how much reason you utilise or how rational you are, your drive is always fuelled through stories you tell yourself, some consciously and some unconsciously. For example, if you work hard, you become successful, it is a conscious tale. We all want success, financial or artistic or familial or sexual, but it’s wired inside us as a narrative. We grow up to journey through life to procreate or leave an alternative legacy. So life is a story itself. We are born, we grow up to experience ups and downs until we die.

    As Schopenhauer said that we are at the mercy of a blind will that’s aimless, purposeless and shapeless. And storytelling is our attempt to give this blind will or nature an order. So storytelling is our first attempt to tame nature’s chaos. While storytelling is our tool to bring order to nature, it is on a psychological level. It’s in our head. Rationality, on the other hand, is our second attempt to tame nature more on a practical level. It appears that storytelling is the old tool that also works on a psychological level, but rationality is less psychological and more rooted in the outside physical world.

    Today the media also uses storytelling to shape the narratives of who we should hate and who we should like. Depending on the media outlet, the villains and heroes can be the same people. The media has the same trick which the old empires or tribes used to paint the enemy as villains. So stories are incredibly powerful today when it comes to uniting or dividing people.

    So what’s the future?

    We humans go through change and transformation, just like other species on earth. But the only difference is that we are now aware of evolution and how it works. So as we change, and evolve, we find new stories to tell. Science fiction didn’t make sense in a time where there was no science or very limited science.

    But stories are also the stories our deeper desires. On a very deep fundamental level, our greatest stories are our deeper, greater cravings for things we really want. Heroic myths were our desire to rise up above everyone else. War epics were about our craving to crash the enemies and restore our tribe, empire and community. Great romantic tales are our desire to find the partner we genuinely desire. Of course, reality is often against us in achieving these urges so we satisfy those desires through stories.

    You might ask what are today’s human desires or cravings? Reaching other planets, meeting aliens, creating a powerful machine, but the ultimate desire, the one craving, we still have not changed since the dawn of time. We wish we could live a long life and be happy.

    So storytelling will continue to tell us tales that can quench our thirst for immortality and endless happiness. Reality sucks so we take refuge in stories to keep us going. To fuel and nourish our souls. To motivate us, to inspire us so we continue the human journey.

    So the future of storytelling is bright as long as humans are alive. We cannot separate stories from humans and humans from stories. The ultimate aim of stories is to provide us with clarity of mind, sharpen our purpose and create order in the chaotic lives we lead. Even if we die as humans and the AI computers take over, they will continue our stories.

    What do you think? Where is storytelling or literature heading?

    Phew, it's done. I hope it was enjoyable for the 2 people who's been following my career with mild interest.

    2 votes
  16. Comment on Tildes Video Thread in ~misc

    Link Parent
    10: Storytelling meets Psychology (Modernism) In the previous segment we saw how Darwin’s theory of evolution had a massive impact on literature and storytelling. The same can be true of...
    10: Storytelling meets Psychology (Modernism)

    In the previous segment we saw how Darwin’s theory of evolution had a massive impact on literature and storytelling. The same can be true of psychoanalysis. So in this segment, we move away from biology and turn to psychology’s impact on a literary movement called modernism. Instead of social change, we zoom in on what’s going on inside the mind of the individual. So storytelling meets psychology.

    Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical talking cure had a profound influence on literature. It liberated you from your inner burdens, suppressed urges, and repressed emotions. It was a release that provided you with catharsis. Writers used the talking cure techniques in literature by allowing their characters to talk without any restrictions or interruptions.

    The result is what is often called modernism and the most famous style has been the stream of consciousness, a term coined by the French existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. So modernism also has a close affinity with existentialism as the focus is not material success but meaning in life.

    Also I should note that William James, the American psychologist had a huge influence on the study of consciousness who likened it to a stream. Psychologists before saw consciousness as a structure with different rooms like subconscious, unconscious and ego, but James didn’t consider it a structure but a stream that runs like liquid. So the stream of consciousness perhaps was more influenced by James than Freud. Freud’s view of consciousness is more like a structure, a house with many levels, conscious the upper floor and the unconscious the basement. But modernism took its method of storytelling from psychoanalysis of talking cure. By allowing the characters to talk without following any grammatical rules or punctuations, they can tap into a deeper consciousness, the subconscious or the unconscious to bring out things otherwise hidden.

    The arrival of psychology as a separate discipline in philosophy had a profound influence on literature. The German psychoanalytical approach of Freud and later Jung made literature a more psychological endeavour than a philosophical one. So between 1910 and 1930, modernist fiction became prominent.

    While the naturalists had a sociological approach which put the collective as a focal point, the modernist returned to the individual. While realists and naturalists focused on what was happening on the outside, the modernists shifted their focus on the inside, the inner thoughts and monologues of their characters. What was going on inside the head, i.e. the internal experience and emotions, the subjective experience, was as important as the outside world.

    The origin of modernism can be traced to a very short novella written in the 1860s in Russia. Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground published in 1864 tells the story of a sick man who has gone underground like an injured animal.

    So not only are we inside his head, but he himself is hiding inside a basement. He narrates his own story of how he was humiliated on the outside by an officer, and relates his cowardly botched and comical attempt to take revenge on him. But as it turns out the officer doesn't even notice him because he is so insignificant.

    His second story is how he tried to borrow money from his boss, but found no courage to do so, again in a comical fashion showing his cowardice. Later on when he forces an invite to a school reunion, his friends show no respect for him. After a fight they abandon him, but as pathetic as he is he follows them to a brothel where he meets a prostitute, named Liza. The underground man feels his life is taking a positive turn when he manages to sleep with Liza, but despite his own pitiful life, he looks down on her. He even admonishes her for selling her body and her soul for money. She leaves him, and he is devastated. Now he is back to square one: alone and a loser. Since society treated him as an insignificant entity, he has become deeply resentful and petty and wants to enact it on someone weaker than him, someone like Liza.

    Now that the Underground Man feels like a total loser, he has nothing to lose so what does he do? He isolates himself from society like an injured animal that goes somewhere quiet to die, away from others. The underground man is physically ill because his liver has gone kaput perhaps too much drinking. Who knows. But importantly we know that he is so deeply psychologically wounded that he no longer wants to receive any treatment for his illness. He has given up on society and life in general. However, he wants to warn us about how modernity with its rationality-driven progress can turn us all into someone like him, isolated, dissatisfied, and resentful.

    So Dostoevsky’s underground man is the first modernist hero whose pathetic experience on the outside turns him inward.

    We move away from a dark basement in Russia to the dark streets of Oslo. Knut Hamsun who lived between 1859 and 1952 published Hunger in 1890. It’s often called the first modernist novel.

    Set in Kristiania, the old name of Oslo, the unnamed protagonist is a struggling writer unable to pay rent or buy food. He almost sleep-walks from park bench to park bench, from prison to his work. He is not in control of his life. Once he is so hungry he chews on his fingers, and worse still almost eats his own pencil, the very tool that allows him to be a writer. Imagine me eating my computer, a tool I use to make this video.

    Despite his poverty, he is a deeply proud man, always refusing to take money from others. At one point he tries to become close to a woman but she refuses to show her face. Then one day he is kicked out of his lodging for interfering with the family’s affairs. At the end, he volunteers to be a crew on a boat heading to England. We don't know whether he gets to England or he is still drifting at sea.

    Quote: “The dark monsters out there would suck me up when night came on, and they would carry me far across the sea and through strange lands where no humans lived.” The madness of a modern man is depicted beautifully in this short novel. We see things from the perspective of a man on the outer edge of society whose external experiences induce an internal madness.

    Knut Hamsun’s Hunger is one of the best examples of a man living in his head. His reality is what he has constructed for himself. It personifies Rene Descartes’s quote, I think, therefore that’s who I am.

    The modern condition in which individuals felt more and more isolated, turned many writers to be more pessimistic. But one French writer turned this pessimism into optimism. How? He filled modern emptiness with artistic beauty. It’s art that fills all the emptiness modernity has thrown at us.

    Marcel Proust’s novel, In Search of Lost Time, published between 1913 and 1927, holds the record for the longest novel.

    The novel tells the story of a man named Marcel who surreptitiously finds himself transported to his past after eating a tea-soaked cake. The taste of the cake combined with the aroma of the tea triggers in him something he thought he had lost: his past memories. Not just that, but his past selves come back to him. The memories of his childhood flashes right in front of him. But it is in the taste of the cake. The people he once loved. The places he lived. All these were inside the taste of the cake. This involuntary trigger is so incredibly strong that Marcel finds himself almost outside of time. He is able to exist two times at once. He can be in the present drinking tea while also simultaneously being in the past, a child full of wonders, a teenager full of angst, an adult in love, jealous, disappointed and so much more. He realises one of the most fundamental questions in life. Why do we age? Why do we forget things? He realises that time is our biggest enemy. It’s slowly killing us, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day and year-by-year. Time is decaying us.

    But the only weapon we have against time is our memory. Through involuntary memory triggered by taste, smell, touch, or sound, we can regain the past selves, experiences which liberates us from time. But it is a momentary liberation. And also since these memories are involuntary, you cannot predict them. Maybe when a smell hits your nostrils you might find yourself a child waiting for your mother making dinner. Or you might hear a song, you suddenly remember your teenage self in love with a girl next door. While beautiful as these involuntary memories are, they come without you knowing and they also disappear in the same way they come. Suddenly.

    So how can we defeat time? To fully liberate oneself from time, Proust turned to art. While we die, art lives on. So by the end of the novel, Marcel becomes a writer and writes one of the most beautiful novels of all time.

    For Proust, our internal experiences have a far deeper meaning than our external experiences. Throughout the novel, the protagonist is always disappointed by the reality on the outside. Seeing a beautiful cathedral, or a painting or love, never matched what he had created in his imagination. So beauty is an internal and psychological experience. But Proust also understood that our memory is not just stored inside our head, they are also stored in external objects, a piece of art, a rock, a sentimental object, a pathway, a house but also in smells, sounds and taste.

    So Marcel Proust’s novel is a perfect example of how we find meaning through storytelling. How storytelling can make us immortal. Time is killing us but we are fighting back with storytelling and art.

    Now we move from Paris to Dublin in our journey of consciousness. James Joyce spent 7 years writing Ulysses and published it in 1922.

    The title, structure and some other aspects of this novel come from Homer’s poem the Odyssey written some 2500 years ago in Ancient Greece. James Joyce wanted to link 20th century Ireland with Ancient Greece. In Homer’s poem the main character Odysseus or Ulysses in Latin is returning home after the Trojan war that took ten years, but it takes him another ten years to get home. While Homer’s hero spent 20 years getting back home, James Joyce sets his novel on a single day in Dublin, Ireland. June 16, 1904 is a Thursday, which was a half day's work back then. With 265,000 words, now it’s probably the longest day or the slowest day in literature. If Proust travelled back in time, Joyce stretched time in this novel.

    So another element of modernism is time. Why time you might ask? We can register the passage of time through consciousness. If we have no consciousness, we have no clue how time passes. We register the passage of time through change. Day turning to night or people aging, or plants growing. So our consciousness is the only tool we can notice time moving.

    Ulysses tells the story of Leopold Bloom, a half Jewish advertising agent, his wife Molly Bloom, a singer, and Stephen Daedalus, a part-time teacher. The day starts at 8am. First Stephen goes to teach a class and arranges to meet his housemate Buck at the pub later on. Leopold Bloom goes to place an ad in a newspaper. He wanders through the streets of Dublin from place to place, drifting like some log in the ocean, just as Odysseus did through the Aegean sea. Leopold ends up on a beach where he masturbates at the sight of a girl’s naked leg. Finally Bloom and Stephen meet in a hospital. Bloom follows Stephen and his friends to a brothel, just like in Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground. Stephen gets too drunk and they both end up at Bloom’s house around midnight. They drink cocoa while talking about themselves and then urinate together. So modernism liberates the characters from their repressed or suppressed urges and treats them like animals. Stephen leaves and Bloom goes to bed next to Molly, so we enter Molly’s head as she remembers her affair as well as the time she agreed to marry him.

    James Joyce’s style of writing is considered the prime example of what’s called stream of consciousness. The novel doesn’t follow conventional punctuation and each section takes the form of the place it is told, just like some water taking the shape of a container. For instance, the time Bloom visits a newspaper office, the narrative takes a journalistic style.

    For Joyce, the internal monologues told without hesitation is how the human mind works. At any moment, a million things go through our consciousness. But since we are social beings, we hide, suppress and censor ourselves. This was so much true in Joyce’s fellow Irish writer Samuel Becket who wrote his plays in French because he wanted some freedom from the repression of his culture and the English language.

    So Joyce thought what if you let the consciousness loose and free, the result is Ulysses, which is perhaps barely a scratch on the surface. Freud’s talking cure was meant to allow his patients to express their suppressed emotions, urges and memories that are stored in their unconscious. Joyce obliges and the result is Ulysses.

    While Joyce’s characters are free to roam in the city of Dublin. In the Magic Mountain, published in 1924, Thomas Mann’s characters are locked in a particular place from where they cannot leave.

    Just like in Kafka’s novels, his characters are physically paralysed to some extent. Due to physical illness they have to remain in a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps. This is similar to the lockdown of the previous years. But the novel is much more than that. Thomas Mann juxtaposes physical illness with societal illness.

    Europe was experiencing a kind of madness during the first half of the 20th century. Two world wars that cost millions of lives. So the novel balances two tensions, the psychological and ideological. On the outside ideologies fight one another but inside the individual psyche, the battle is far deeper, it is about life and meaning.

    At the heart of The Magic Mountain is the battle between three different philosophies. On the one hand, we have humanism which promotes individual freedom and rationality and wants to change the world for the rational individuals. While on the other hand, we have socialism that promotes economic equality and wants to get rid of classes. Somewhere in the middle we have romanticism which promotes the enjoyment of life and beauty and doesn't want to change a thing. So all these different philosophies are depicted inside a sanatorium, in other words.

    The whole of Europe was recovering from the First World War to recuperate and plan for another great war that came some 15 years later after the publication of this novel.

    So while realism took its cue from the scientific objective method to paint reality as it is, naturalism took its cue from evolutionary biology to get to some deeper social truths, modernism relied on psychology to understand what’s happening inside the head of the individual.

    Next we turn to magical realism, in which storytelling returns to its ancient roots of sprinkling some magic on the mundane reality of life to give it a bit of a spark.

    11: Storytelling meets Quantum Physics (Magical realism)

    In the previous segments, I discussed how storytelling met sciences such as physics realism, biology’s naturalism and psychology’s modernism, but it all seemed to lack something. It lacked a spark of unpredictability and spontaneity. Since the old science is all about predictability, storytelling needs a bit of randomness. So with the discovery of quantum physics, came the magic of spontaneity. So in this segment, I will discuss magical realism. Rational sciences sucked the energy out of storytelling so we return back to the olden days when fairies and beasts appeared out of nowhere.

    Literary realism dates back to the 1830s and by the 1930s it had incorporated magic to give birth to another literary movement called magical realism. Although it is very prominent in South American literature, its origin goes back to our deeper past. Magic has always been part of human life, since the dawn of human civilisation. To give you an example, the ancient Egyptians saw magic as part of their religion. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, magic spells are an integral part of life as well as death. Without magic, you could neither survive life, nor death. For the Egyptians if you thought of something, it became reality, so thinking itself was magical. Religious miracles are also magical events which become myths and widely used in storytelling. Another important event in our recent history is the discovery of quantum physics where the old physical certainties were challenged by the uncertainty of the quantum mechanics, often described through Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle or Schrödinger’s cat. Erwin Schrödinger argued that at any moment due to subatomic randomness, a cat can be dead and alive which is paradoxical.

    The classic physical certainty was now challenged so novelists, partly inspired by quantum physics and partly by thousands of years of magical thinking, started to combine reality with a pinch of magic to cook a new storytelling technique. The early magical realism had more religious flavour but later on with quantum physics and the also the development of psychoanalytic unconscious, it took a more secular turn. So storytelling became more like dreams where bizarre events take place yet when reading we suspend disbelief. Just like in dreams while we are dreaming, we never question what’s happening at the time. Both Freud and Jung used dreams to reach the hidden unconscious. Writers also tapped into the unconscious to tell dream-like magical tales.

    The 1930s novel, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov was one of the pioneers of magical realism.

    Bulgakov (1891-1940) was a doctor, just like Chekhov. But when he was injured, he gave up medicine to become a full time writer. While his physical illness prevented him from practising medicine, writing during the Stalin rule, however, also had its problems. You were not allowed to write about certain things. So Bulgakov had to be careful how he told his stories to avoid censorship but worse still, the cold of Siberian labour camp. A fate Fyodor Dostoevsky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn couldn’t avoid. Although he was close to Stalin at one point, he also had problems with him. He was banned, then saved by the man with the moustache and banned again.

    In order to escape censorship, he devised a plan to write a novel in which reality is constructed in a way that is almost unbelievable. You couldn’t tell the story of reality how it was but you could certainly tell a magical tale. Another reason was of course religion. Since Bulgakov was drawn to religion, perhaps as a coping mechanism given the horror of witnessing human misery as a doctor, he used miraculous events to construct a story about Moscow. Although The Master and Margarita was written in the 1930s it was only allowed to be published in the 1960s.

    The story is about Satan visiting Moscow, targeting a group of writers. Master is an embittered and gloomy author, a stereotypical Russian man who never smiles. Why smile? For what reason? He’s so pessimistic that he burns his manuscript after being refused publication, but his mistress, Margarita, is a very optimistic young lady. What does she do to save the gloomy Master? Well, she cannot fight the devil, so she uses her wit to save his man. Margarita joins Satan in his game and by the end they all vanish. Satan and his entourage are like a tornado that brings chaos to Moscow for a few days and then vanishes, taking away both Master and Margarita with them.

    There might be an allusion to those defecting to the West, because the West was considered Satan among the Soviet elite. In fact, one of the most important Soviet writers, Maxim Gorky, the social realist novelist, wrote a book called, The City of Yellow Devil, he was referring to New York and the West as a whole that has fallen in love with money too much. In Master and Margarita, there is a character called Ponyryov who is based on Maxim Gorky. The novel is considered the first critique of Stalin, and a precursor to the South American tradition of magical realism. The novel has a talking cat, and many bizarre events.

    Now we move from religion-induced magic of Master and Margarita to a magical tale that was induced by opium. To make our connection between religion and opium even stronger, Karl Marx called religion the opiate of the masses. The 1936 novel, the Blind Owl by Sadeq Hedayat is one of the most important works of modern Persian literature.

    It’s a beautifully vivid tale that weaves between reality and an opium-induced dream that grabs you and gives you a new lens into another realm of reality. The narrator is a painter who is tormented by a pair of black eyes, similar to Edgar Allan Poe’s blue eyes in the Tell-Tale Heart. Those two black eyes become the other main character in the story, perhaps a metaphor for society watching us. Sartre’s famous idea that hell is other people is represented by an old man whose laughter brings shudder to the narrator’s back.

    In order to free himself, the protagonist thinks he has to murder his wife who refuses to sleep with him. So the narrator is a painter in part one and confessor of a murder in part two. Just like Dostoevsky’s underground man, he is mocked by everyone, so shame becomes a central theme in the novel. At one point, when he is alone with her, he goes to get some wine, which appears like a trip back in time when drinking wine was legal in Iran before the arrival of Islam, but when he returns, he notices that she’s already dead.

    To revive her, he sleeps next to her naked body, hoping his own body heat can bring her back to life. Once he fails to revive his dead wife, he decides to draw her. Perhaps telling us that art makes a person immortal. But he fails to draw her properly. He tries many times to really capture her until finally he manages to complete his drawing, only to discover that the same drawing was done thousands years ago, showing the futility of his effort.

    The old man who laughs with his entire body, helps him bury her in a ditch inside a suitcase. As they carry the body, the story takes a Jungian turn, we are suddenly transported to a thousand years back in history, at the height of the Persian civilisation. The narrator realises that someone else a thousand years ago had painted the very same image on an ancient jar.

    Hedayat was influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead which describes a kind of hallucination, so death is almost like a major character in the novel. The moment you’re born, your death is also born with you. It follows you everywhere you go, like a shadow. When time comes, it liberates you as though life is a life-sentence. One of the unique aspects of the novel is that characters are recycled like a low budget movie that hires five people to play 15 characters. The uncle becomes the gravedigger. The wife becomes a muse of his painting, whore, and an angel.

    So Hedayat uses opium to numb the pain of existence but also an escape from reality. If Bulgakov used a religious miracle, Hedayat uses a drug-induced miracle to escape reality.

    Now we move from Iran to Mexico to talk about another masterpiece of literature which blurs the line between real life and death. The Mexican writer, Juan Rulfo, born in 1918 and died in 1986, published his masterpiece, Pedro Paramo, in 1955.

    It influenced generations of Latin American writers and most notably Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

    It’s a short novella that tells the story of a boy, Juan Preciado, who after the death of his mother, Dolores Preciado, sets off in search of his father Pedro Paramo in order to confront him for the years of neglect for him and his mother. He arrives at the village of Comala with his companion, Abundio, another son of Pedro Paramo. When they arrive, they face a ghost village. But it is no problem, because in this novella, the ghosts are just as alive as the living beings.

    So our hero meets a few dead people who continue the story. Through dead people’s fragmented accounts and voices, a picture of his father emerges as a corrupt, murderous, cruel man who took other people’s lands, money, wives and daughters. He slept with different women and fathered many children. With it Juan learns about the tragic and violent end to the town and its people and a bit about his own origin.

    So in other words, it’s the story of death merged with the origin story, so in a sense we return to our early ancestors inventing storytelling to fight mortality.

    Through the fragmented stories and accounts of the dead people, we get a picture of the man who ruled the town and its people and how he was consumed by the love of one woman, Susana San Juan. When the notorious Pedro Paramo dies, the whole town is consumed in revolutionary violence and slow destruction into dust. Suddenly everything crumbles like a sand castle.

    The novel has no chapters, or clear markers of who is talking. It is like you're in a desert graveyard, with a microphone in the shape of a tumbleweed that lends itself to different characters and they start speaking unprompted and randomly. You hear voices and you don’t know who is talking. There is a moderator but he falls asleep from time to time. Characters appear and then fade away. The narrative too shifts from first person to the third person and back again, also between past and present. It appears fragmentary and disjointed and without a clear structure, and that’s the genius of this novel. Juan Rulfo takes us into one of the most profound dreams that is deeply tragic but also incredibly beautiful. This story takes us back to our early past when consciousness mingled between dream and reality.

    Now we move away from the desert of Mexico to Europe. The 1959 novel, Tin Drum by German author Günter Grass (1927-2015) is about a Polish child, Oskar Matzerath, who narrates his own story while in a mental hospital.

    At a young age, Oskar refuses to grow up because he wants to avoid becoming a shopkeeper. Throughout history, for men growing up was bundled with going to war. But luckily for Oskar, he has a super power that not only he can control his height, but also when he screams he can shatter glass. Just like Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream shows the deep human angst at the madness of the world, Tin Drum also depicts the madness of war.

    Oskar lives during the wars. His only prized possession is a tin drum that he would do anything to keep. He tells about his life and many of his love affairs before, during and after the second world war. During the war he beats his drum to encourage soldiers to fight and after the war he becomes a famous musician. So ultimately Tin Drum is a novel of sound and how music is a magical human invention, just as important as storytelling.

    Despite his success he cannot untangle himself from his guilty past, helping soldiers to kill other fellow human beings. His drumming hyped up the soldiers to kill more. Throughout history, stories triggered young men to fight while music helped them to keep going. That’s why every army had their own band of musicians.

    At the end, Oskar’s guilt is too overwhelming to continue on living so he implicates himself in a murder that would send him to prison for the rest of his life, symbolising the German guilt that affected the generation after the war, which Gunter Grass was part of.

    The novel depicts the madness of war through magical realism, fantasy, erotic sex while asking deep philosophical questions. Oskar is an unreliable narrator who feels suspended between being good and evil. A Jesus figure and a Satan figure, all in one. So when it comes to the morality of just and unjust war, it’s not as black and white as we think. This moral dilemma can be extremely painful so we take refuge in stories tinged with magic.

    Now we return to South America. Gabriel Garcia Marques’s masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude was first published in Spanish in 1967.

    It tells the story of 7 generations of the Buendia family in a town in the middle of the Colombian jungle. South America’s landscape is depicted like some mythical world, undiscovered and unspoilt by humanity. By the end of the novel , however, everything is in ruins.

    It all starts when José Arcadio Buendía kills a man for insulting him. He and his wife Úrsula have to flee their home. They wander for a long time until one night Jose dreams about a city of mirrors that reflect the world. They decide to found a new city called Macondo, which becomes the setting for this novel. In a way, this town represents the entire world. In biblical terms, it is Earth after humans were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Macondo, believed to be surrounded by water on all sides, is extremely isolated. The Buendias think they’re the only inhabitants of the known world. The couple, Jose and Ursula have kids, and their kids have kids, and their kids have more kids until the 7th generation of this same family.

    But soon other people show up. First the Gypsies with their music, then soldiers of the civil wars, then the railway and finally American capitalism establish their banana company. Then suddenly Columbia appears out of nowhere to claim sovereignty over Macondo, and this brings politics, warfare, revolution, violence and strange happenings. One of the most bizarre events is the years of insomnia, perhaps alluding to the invention of the electric light bulb, now humanity never sleeps. You can work all day in the sun, and all night under the light bulb.

    At the end Macondo is ruined and abandoned and only one person remains of the once huge Buendia family and he is isolated and about to die. The optimism of early generations now turned to pessimism and final destruction of once a huge family.

    The novel is full of sex, violence, infidelity, murders, executions, strange happenings, until the town falls like a fallen empire. Soon everything is wiped out completely. The first generation die of natural causes, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations die due to wars, the 5th generation killed by their kids and the last ones are eaten by ants.

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses magical realism to create comedy, enhance storytelling, but most crucially to condense as well as expand time.

    So 100 Years of Solitude is the loneliness of our species. As the only species with a high level of consciousness, we are alone. To find friends, we imagined gods to hold our hands. Then we suddenly stopped believing in our invented friends, as Nietzsche proclaimed that god was dead. Then we became lonely.

    So Gabriel Garcia Marquez told the story of our solitude. Despite living in large cities, we are always alone.

    The theme of loneliness is perhaps best depicted in the works of the Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami.

    Murakami’s style of writing combines magical realism with surrealism to tell gripping stories of the modern condition where we all struggle for meaning and purpose in life. His novels are widely popular making the most successful Japanese author of all time.

    His 2005 novel, Kafka on the Shore tells the story of a young man named Kafka who, just like the real Franz Kafka, hates his own father. Unlike the real Kafka, our hero, Kafka Tamura escapes his home, but what ensues afterward is a sequence of many bizarre events, including cats talking to humans, fish raining from the sky, and terrible and tragic experiences of other characters.

    Murakami has written so many novels in which he brings little magic and spontaneity to the banality of modernity. Ordinary people implicated in bizarre events give us the feeling of old fairy tales but with a modern setting. Murakami’s popularity shows that we still crave a bit of randomness, a bit of spontaneity and some magic in our stories.

    So for thousands of years humans loved magic and told stories full of magical creatures, then we woke up to reason and science and considered those tales too childish or immature. But when quantum physics was discovered, we realised that even science is bizarre and unpredictable, so we returned to magical storytelling.

    But this scientific uncertainty also shook humanity at its core. We once believed in our own ability and had confidence and trust in our scientific and rational capabilities. But we are not as confident as we used to be. So storytelling started to question human capacity for finding the truth and most importantly our capacity to tell the truth.

    So in the next segment, I will discuss how storytelling reflected our shaken confidence in truth-telling. Storytelling, once gave us clarity, now is muddled in confusion and uncertainty. So in the next segment storytelling meets postmodernism.

    2 votes
  17. Comment on Russia hoped for a Chinese tourist boom in 2023. It’s still waiting. in ~life


    Until the pandemic, China was crucial to Russia’s tourism industry. In 2019, nearly 1.5 million Chinese visited Russia, accounting for one-third of the country’s international visitors that year.

  18. Comment on Alice in Wonderland’s hidden messages in ~books

    I was starting to feel that the author was stretching a but with some of the interpretations but thankfully the conclusion recontextualized them. The point, I think, was that those are the kind of...

    To peruse the wild and wacky theories that successive generations have dreamt up concerning the "true" meaning of Alice's adventures is to understand how changing social mores can radically alter a text. Of course, it's a testament to the work's essential timelessness that each era has been able to read its own fads and preoccupations into the story. [...]

    I was starting to feel that the author was stretching a but with some of the interpretations but thankfully the conclusion recontextualized them. The point, I think, was that those are the kind of interpretation people could make if they project the societal values our current time back onto it, which is probably an unavoidable bias during any time period. Should a work be judged by the standards of its time or of our time? I think there's value to both, though not as much for our understanding of the work but for understanding the attitudes of the people making judgement.

    2 votes