Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

☞ Lest you thought that the capacity to distinguish fact from fiction is a natural ability… This is a progressive ability of course, with children not always being able to distinguish fact from fiction. However, if the ability is not enhanced in later years, it might prove problematic. Thus the urge to ensure that teens are competent in news literacy, which includes the ability to distinguish fact from fiction.

❝When Ife Adelona saw a picture circulating on Twitter of singer Selena Gomez as an adult magazine cover girl, the 17-year-old knew what she had to do.

“I immediately went for a second source to make sure it wasn’t true,” Ife said.

A quick Web search confirmed the Montgomery Blair High School student’s instincts: The photo was a fake.

“Second source” is more a journalist’s jargon than part of a teen’s everyday vocabulary. But with information so readily available via social media, the Internet and traditional news sources, educators say news literacy — teaching students how to identify credible information and good journalism — is increasingly important.❞

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A Little Blog of Books

‘Blindness’ by José Saramago is a fable about an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness which has unsurprisingly chaotic consequences.  The story begins with a man suddenly going blind as he is waiting in his car at some traffic lights.  Several other characters who come into contact with him also lose their sight.  The blind are quarantined in a mental asylum and left to fend for themselves but criminals soon gain control as society rapidly breaks down completely.  Only the doctor’s wife is still able to see for unknown reasons but she doesn’t reveal this fact.  Can she still help the others?

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☞ This article is on vegan empowerment, but much of it has to do with narrative as a shaping device. One of the ways by which the process of empowerment or disempowerment could be viewed is by seeing it through the eyepiece of narrative. In this light, empowerment is the attempt to ensure that the dominant narrative that suppresses a person or group of persons is subverted and replaced by a narrative that views the person or group more favourably. The article views the narrative that substitutes the dominant narrative as the “true” narrative. It is of course “true” from the perspective of those who stand to benefit from it. From a more value-neutral perspective, what can be seen here is the dynamics of narrative in the dialectics of empowerment and disempowerment, where a group uses a dominant narrative to perpetuate its power, whilst another group tries to subvert this for its empowerment by introducing an alternative narrative. 

✲ “History is shaped not by weapons, or tyrants, or rebellions. History is shaped by stories. Beneath every oppression and every revolution are narratives that guide them: we cannot invade and take up arms against another without first believing the story that the other is our enemy who must be conquered, just as we cannot stand together in protest of violent invasions without believing the story that the war is unjust.

Dominant narratives are the stories told by the dominant culture; they define our reality and guide our lives like an invisible hand. And when the dominant culture is oppressive, so, too, are its narratives. Such narratives are fictions, constructed to delude people into supporting the dominant way of life even though that way of life runs counter to what they would otherwise support, and to silence the voices of people who seek to tell the truth. Thus, social change is made possible by those who challenge the dominant narratives, replacing fictions with facts by bearing witness to and speaking out against oppression. Revolutions that change the course of history are made possible by those who speak truth to power.”

✲ “Stories shape our lives, and our world, for better or worse.

When women believed the stories told by the dominant, sexist culture – when they looked at the world through the eyes of (sexist) males – they believed that their own personal deficiencies, rather than external power structures, were to blame for their lower social status.

Stories can be fiction or fact.

The dominant story of sexist culture – that women were inferior because they were overly emotional, weak, and irrational – was based on gross distortions of the truth about women’s true nature and experience. It was a fiction. True stories, on the other hand, reflect the authentic truth of our experience.

Widespread stories reflect (and reinforce) a widespread belief system, or ideology.

The story that women were inferior to men did not come out of nowhere; it reflected the widespread ideology of sexism. And the more men and women alike bought into this fiction, the more they reinforced the sexist system, playing out and thus confirming the stereotypes of dominant males and submissive females.

When we change our stories, we change our lives, and our world.

As vegans, we are largely aware of the fictions spun by the dominant, animal-eating culture; our advocacy is organized around providing alternative, truthful stories. But there are some dominant stories that many vegans remain unaware of, and these stories can cause us to feel disempowered and despairing and they can seriously undermine our advocacy. When we become aware of these stories, though, we can rewrite them, and transform our despair into inspiration and empower ourselves and our movement.”

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✽ “While it is true that all sorts of “narratives” are used to promote everything from products to politicians, I believe that there are much deeper Narratives — think of them as “meta-narratives” — that we’ve been taught since childhood. I’ve referred to them as “the Narratives that guide our lives” — the stories through which we fundamentally interpret and explain our place in the universe and society, and which objectify our values and sense of what are right and wrong actions. I believe that a canny communicator can tap into these almost universal Narratives to create messages that will resonate with millions.”

✽ “For writers of fiction, [narratives] are indispensable. Christopher Vogler, in The Writer’s Journey, explains how he utilizes Campbell’s theory of “the hero’s journey” in his work as a Hollywood “script doctor.” Vogler takes apart the plots of some of the most popular films of all time, showing how they fit a transcultural, ubiquitous “heroic quest” pattern — and he then shows how a writer of fiction can employ that same basic pattern to make his own work better resonate with readers.

All of which underscores Friedlander’s point about our being “Homo narrans.” Storytelling is truly fundamental to what we humans are: not just how we communicate, but more basically, how we interpret and understand the world and our places in it.”

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