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River in full spate.

Motivating Myths

More and better facts will not catalyze this sociocultural tipping point, but more and better stories might.

Peter Kalmus (2021)

Social convention, which has for so long worked against us, can if flipped become our greatest source of power, normalising what now seems radical and weird...It sounds like a wild hope. But we have no choice.

George Monbiot (2021)


Pictures present facts: the destructive power of water seems irrefutable in a photograph. Pictures offer a piece of Person taking photogrpah of sunset across water. Susan Sontag offers an interesting insight into what is happening when we take photographs. that power here; now. But abstractions, like pieces of the world and facts, are poor motivators; we must also tell a story. Path between trees. Stories join together disparate ideas for us in our collective communications Stories are not true in the way pictures and facts are true, rather they knit together culture, social norms, psychological truths and archetypes to form something more general and complex than particular truths. The present and looming crisis in nature Looking across Ha Noi from a tower block. The dilemma of urban development versus a life of peace is as old as reflective writing. has been well documented for decades, yet our mealy-mouthed leaders continue to ignore it. Now we need the story of the mess into which we have become embroiled. Big stories become myths: not in the sense of being imaginary, but in the basic sense of being the embodiment of cultural ideas. Think of the power of the myths of religions of which you are not part: those myths have moved millions to action, even to death. We now need similar sagas for our age. Then maybe, just maybe, we can find a motivation that moves our fellows, and gives the ‘flipping’ power Monbiot describes - myths can motivate action.

The quote is from Peter Kalmus' article in The Guardian on Wednesday 29th December 2021 entitled: I’m a climate scientist. “Don’t Look Up” captures the madness I see every day, Kalmus offers this film (Don’t Look Up) as an apposite analysis of where we are today in our global, but myopic cultures. George Monbiot’s article Domino Theory appeared in The Guardian on 14th November 2021; available on his website:

Challenging waters near the bridge over the River Dochart at Killin, in the southern Highlands of Scotland.

Above, hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 5th February 2022

Murphy on duty to this site