The Uniting Power of Story Angus Fletcher 205

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Video Creator’s Channel Jordan B Peterson

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The Wonder Of Being On This Earth

is that there is this possibility to tell our own story and beyond that to build stories. We can hand on to other people to empower them to tell their own stories, and it all goes back to this sense of dynamism that you’re talking about and also these emotions that you’re talking about and to unite us and to unite us in a collective story so that we can work cooperatively together towards the same ends right so that we all come under the same banner in some sense and that’s that shared intentionality that’s that’s very specifically human you don’t see that much manifest itself much in other animals even the higher apes have a hard time with it compared to us absolutely yes and you know what’s a big what’s really important about that is that it’s ultimately voluntary. Hello everyone I’m pleased to have with me today? Dr Angus Fletcher, who wrote wonderworks which is a study of the psychology of stories, the psychology of narrative I’m going to read you. Dr Fletcher’s bio from the back cover. Dr Angus Fletcher is a professor at Ohio State University’s Project Narrative the World’s leading academic think tank for the study of stories.

He Has Dual Degrees In Neuroscience And Literature.

Received his PhD from Yale Taught Shakespeare at Stanford, and has published two books and dozens of peer-reviewed academic articles on the scientific workings of novels, poetry, film and theater. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences. He’s done story consulting for projects for Sony Disney, the Bbc, Amazon, PBs and NBc Universal and is the author presenter of the Audible Slash Great Courses. guide to screenwriting so Dr Fletcher thank you very much for agreeing to talk to me today and I’m looking forward to this conversation greatly, so let’s start a bit with this project narrative at Ohio state.

I Hadnt Heard Of That Previously

and so tell me how you got interested in that and then maybe how you got interested in this in the psychology of stories more broadly well thanks for being thanks for letting me be here. Jordan I’m thrilled to project narrative is best known as a rogue outpost of literary studies. We do literary studies completely differently from everyone else in the modern academy. Basically, there was a split in the 1920s that started with new criticism and new criticism went on to develop what is essentially the modern modern literary studies and new criticism is based on the same method that was used in the. Middle ages to interpret the Bible that’s the same method that’s used really across the academy.

Even Though New Criticism Has Itself Fallen Out

of favor and in project narrative, we take a different approach and in my case it’s a scientific approach. We’re interested in studying how stories work in the brain and the particular focus of my research is the belief that stories are the most powerful things that humans have ever invented. They’re the most powerful tool we possess and the simple reason for that um is that the human brain is the most powerful thing on earth for good or for bad I mean you look around the extraordinary achievements of our mind. The cultures we have created the science we’ve created the technology we’ve created the art we have created, but also the fact that we have the power in us to wipe out. This planet to destroy everything and when you realize that stories have the power to change how our mind works to troubleshoot it to make it more resilient to make it more creative to make it more scientific to do all these things.

You Realize That When You Couple The Power

of stories with the human brain you throw open the doors to anything so that’s sort of my focus and that’s sort of what we do at project narrative is we study stories how they work scientifically what they do and because of that we’re we’re considered somewhat heretical somewhat maverick and definitely on the fringes. Although I should say I dig in my PhD at yale. So all of us are our reputable hand and well-respected scholars. So are are you on the fringes in among psychologists or among literary critics no not amongst psychologists so I. One of the extraordinary things about my career is that my work is backed by some of the biggest neuroscientists and psychologists in the world, doctors, nurses, social workers, big businesses, the Us Army special operations community, the air force.

I Mean Theres An Enormous Amount Of Backing

from my work among people who are pragmatic and empirically based and are interested in science. But the way that literary studies has become I mean I mean what has happened in literary studies is because everyone is using this method which is really from the middle ages. The same thing is happening in literary studies now that happened in the Middle Ages. People read the same book. They come up with conflicting interpretations of them.

Those Interpretations Reflect Their Ideal Ideologies

and then they argue about them and so we just have these sort of endless combustions that don’t. Go anywhere just like the Protestants and the Catholics in the middle ages and so you know what my work basically says is what if we just back out of that and what if we just do the same thing that science has done and we focus on the way that stories can empower us the story. The way the stories can improve our human performance because that’s really why they were created by our ancestors. Our ancestors came to be in a tragic world where they realized their own frailty and insufficiency. They said, how do I cope with this life? How do I find strength in the face of my own mortality? How do I lift myself up when I see so much failure within myself.

I See So Much Frailty In Terms Of

my capacity for for anger for hate, um and also my ability to be. damaged my ability to suffer grief and trauma and loneliness? How do I lift myself up what tool could help me do that and so the beginning of that literature with early scriptures. There’s a ton of technologies as I talk about in my work that we can actually trace their effects in the brain and then going beyond that healing work into actually making us into our better selves empowering us with with joy with creativity with resilience with the power to lift up others and perhaps most importantly the power to grow to not stay still to take on damage and turn that damage around into a source of strength and so what my work does is. My work focuses on how literature does all those things which all of us know intuitively. All of us have read a book at some time? Have read a novel at some time or watched a movie at some time, or read a poem at some time, and felt healed or uplifted or strengthened? If you have a favorite musician a favorite artist a favorite rapper.

You Know Youll Listen To Their

lyrics and feel the same thing, but the question has always been how how is it doing that and so my work goes into that but also more powerfully My voice. My work breaks down the technology of literature. So you can identify the specific nuts and bolts the specific blueprints that are having those specific effects and so that’s the work that I do at project narrative so in in wonder works in this in this book, which I referred to earlier you list out what you consider 25 inventions and they basically. Constitute the chapter structure of the book and so you examine the manner in which stories do such things as rally courage or stoke romance or help control anger or transcend hurt or excite curiosity. I’m not going to go through all of them, but to dispense with pessimism and banish despair and heal from grief and decide more wisely and so in some sense.

Its A Listing Of Existential Concerns

and so you’ve broken down narrative in this in these 25 ways in this book to discuss the major sources of existential concern that plagued mankind and then have put forward the notion that we have stories that surround each of these fundamental concerns that help us understand verbalize communicate about and maybe see a pathway through each of these the in the case of the terrible emotions, each of the terrible emotions or to foster and develop the ones that are more positive. I mean that’s exactly right and and even more than that so I mean part of what stories do is they is. They give us a plot a road map out of some of these negative emotions into positive emotions, but even more powerfully. They can actually shape our emotions once we understand how to use them certain stories can just build optimism or resilience or courage. So to take the first chapter of the book, which is about Courage Homer resilient this extraordinary work when you read the Iliad it makes you feel braver.

It Makes You Feel Stronger And It Can

do that even when it’s not talking about courage even even when it has no message about courage even when it’s talking about other well, how does it do that well. Homer he probably didn’t invent this technology, but we don’t know who who who did it before him so we give home her credit. Homer realized that when he saw soldiers marching into war. They sang songs and those songs made them feel braver why did those songs make them feel braver well.

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Those Songs Made Them Feel Part

of. a larger voice, they felt they were bigger than themselves and on a deep psychological level. They could feel that strength because they knew that even if their individual body died. The voice would carry on and that’s a that’s a that’s a scientific power of song.

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We Know That To Be The Case That

when people sing together in choirs they feel braver. They feel more courageous and so what homer did is. He said well, what if I could give you that power of singing without you actually singing what if I could create a technology a way of writing so that it tricked your brain into thinking that you were singing as part of a choir and that’s of course, what the iliad does it makes you believe that you are listening to the song of a god sing Goddess of the anger that’s how it begins. and it uses all these tricks and techniques which I go through in the book into making your brain believe that you are singing as part of this larger course and so when you simply read the book.

It Makes You Feel Braver And That

technique that idea that you had there that it that that group singing unites you with the central voice whose existence transcends death. I mean there’s a very deep religious like idea in there that’s that’s implicit right that there is a voice and there are words that unite and transcend and that supersede death and so that’s some that’s part of that heroic pattern. I suppose that that homer is referring to that you can step into as and what would you say an active agent in in engaging in this literature, just like when you walk into a movie.

Summary

Dr Angus Fletcher is a professor at Ohio State University’s Project Narrative the World’s leading academic think tank for the study of stories . Dr Fletcher has dual degrees in neuroscience and literature . Received his PhD from Yale Taught Shakespeare at Stanford, and has published two books and dozens of peer-reviewed academic articles . He’s done story consulting for projects for Sony Disney, the Bbc, Amazon, PBs and NBc Universal and is the author presenter of the Audible Slash Great Courses and guide to screenwriting so Dr Fletcher thank you very much for agreeing to talk to me today and I’m looking forward to this conversation greatly, so let’s start a bit with this project narrative at Ohio state and I hadn’t heard of that previously and so I hadn’t heard of it previously and I’m glad to hear of that. Dr Fletcher’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences ….. Click here to read more and watch the full video