Making & Breaking Stories + Calendar of Human History
First program: Rebecca Solnit - Making & Breaking Stories
Dominant paradigms, dominant stories, the big picture through which our lives move. How much of it is constructed for us? Most of it. What are the prevailing paradigms and cultural narratives really made of? Words. Language. To coin a phrase, define the terms, frame the issue, to write the story that sticks in the public mind and is constantly repeated, is the business of branding. Powerful institutions work day and night suppressing and spinning stories to legitimize their existence. Their machinations create “official stories” and “public secrets” – things that everybody knows but nobody says in public. Although our personal stories are assembled and disassembled at the rate of speedy electronic devices, our collective stories move at the rate of tectonic plates. Competing narratives about fracking in Colorado and tar sands in Alberta play out in daily information wars, while substantive structural changes remain nearly indiscernible.
Second program: Eduardo Galeano - A Calendar of Human History
When looking into the past, the great historian Howard Zinn said, “We never get ‘just the facts.’” We often get glaring omissions and distortions. History is always a selection from an infinite number of facts. And what is selected is based not just on one’s personal interest but on race, class, gender, and other factors. A true picture of the past is rarely achieved, and never by presenting “just the facts.” Historians need the eyes of thousands of people, the ears of poets, a nose for secrets, the hands of a master painter. And by reversing traditional lenses and viewing history through the eyes of the ignored and dispossessed, we gain a radical new perspective. The best historians draw from a rich mosaic of past events, breathe life into them and make them meaningful and useful to the present.
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