What are we talking about? Who’s ‘we’ anyway?

“...arts activities are evidence that people are thinking metaphorically. And change, transformation, is only possible if you can think flexibly, laterally, metaphorically. Where are the somewhat miraculous events?”
Gerry Moriarty

Perhaps it is arguable whether consensus and a change in living conditions change the story, or whether it is the story that changes everything else. But the activist preoccupation with reclaiming, naming and new ways of speaking, as well as the well-established tactic of oppressive regimes to first silence their opponents, would seem to indicate that always, the story comes first.

If half the stories aren’t told, the integration of our understanding with our imagination and our experience, our choice of narratives to understand the world by, is a poor, limited, limping shadow, and we are much less than we could be. It would be like being invited to a feast where you only get to eat lemons. Or being on that diet that’s taken off so spectacularly, where you can only eat protein, which makes you smelly and hard to be near, as you would be if the only stories you allowed yourself to be fed by were meaty tales of imperialism and western cultural supremacy - which would be enough of a punishment in itself if not for the horrible consequences for everybody else.

But - why settle for less when you could have more?

“What the universal civilization I dream about would be, I really don't know, but I know what it is not. It is not what is being presented today, which is clearly just European and American. A universal civilisation is something that we will create. If we accept the thesis that it is desirable to do, then we will go and work on it and talk about it. We have not really talked about it. All those who are saying it's there are really suggesting that it's there by default -- they are saying to us, let's stop at this point and call what we have a universal civilisation. I don't think we want to swindle ourselves in that way; I think if we want a universal civilisation, we should work to bring it about. And when it appears, I think we will know, because it will be different from anything we have now.”
Chinua Achebe
Interview with Atlantic Unbound, 02/08/2000
www.theatlantic.com/unbound/interviews/

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