The uses of stories.
Stories help us fix meaning by providing a dramatization. Stories coalesce into myths.
When the power of story is at the call of a culture whose myths no longer connect with reality the power of story holds us in thrall to those myths. We remain fixated on those myths. The power of a compelling dramatization rings our bells and pushes our buttons. We are not brought together. We are manipulated into remaining within the scope of the old myths and our attention and inner resources are not available for the work of creating new stories that might develop into new myths.
Myth & Meaning. Meaning & Myth.
One can lead to the other and one can dominate and direct the other. When we are finding and forging meaning in the circumstances of our lives meaning leads to the development of myth.
When we are captivated/captured, held prisoners by myths no longer connected to reality these myths, through their stories, conjure and control, and end-up dominating our search for meaning.
In this way we get to go through all of the emotional twists and turns leading to Catharsis. But, since the premise of the story is skewed by the miss-match between its myth and reality we are left hanging.
True Catharsis comes when a story serves a myth that is in touch. These stories lead us along their dramatic arch to meaning by following an artful series of experiences conveyed in such a way as to leave us feeling we are part of the myth from which the story arises. In these cases the ups and downs and twists and turns mean something to us and therefore the Catharsis we are left with touches us deeply and changes us.
Stories in service of dead myths will, out of habit and expectation, wring our emotions and drain us of…, more than energy, vitality, as they pull us away from the realities our sense of self-preservation warns us of.
On one side is the world of unintended consequences and compulsive behavior carried out without vitality – as though we are un-dead. On the other are stories that bring our attention back to what-is and connect us with the springs of our vitality.
The false-stories we are inundated with numb us to genuine Catharsis. Once we’ve been de-sensitized by the recurring miss-match between what the stories purport to defend and their irreality we are left numb, cynical or sentimental. This spoils our capacity to digest any story.
This dynamic keeps us blocked and stuck. Two steps forward, one step back, without an understanding of how our failed culture – going back at least to the end of the Neolithic – erodes our capacities for imagination and exhausts and defeats us again and again. We cannot remain unaware of how this happens. We fool ourselves when we think we can remain immersed in these toxic stories and still find our way.