We need stories

Last week I read a book in the field of History of German Literature by my friend Dr. Anna Helm (The Intersection of Material and Poetic Economy – Gustav Freytag’s “Soll und Haben” and Adalbert Stifter’s “Der Nachsommer”, Publisher: Peter Lang, Editor: Jeffrey L. Sammons). Anna has studied two German novels from the 19th Century. One of them is the novel Debit and Credit by the German author Gustav Freytag. This was one of the most read novels of its day and it was translated to all European languages.

The main character of the book, Anton, is learning to become a businessman. The novel relates his efforts and his feelings as he learns about business, and the book sets his values and abilities in contrast to those of another apprentice, who builds his business success on less righteous values.

When I read this book, it struck me how literature and film, and the stories, values and characters that we receive from them, help in forming society and our future. In our present effort to create society along more sustainable practices, the entertainment industry and the cultural elite need to contribute.

While Global Energy Transformation provides necessary components of analysis and reasoning, this type of book will appeal primarily to experts and people who are used to linear reasoning and conceptualization. In order to spread visions, ideas and images of how to recreate society along new lines, we need to involve the right side of our brains, which works in a holistic manner. By evoking strong images around important subjects related to society, technology and the future, more of us will become also emotionally involved. By doing this, he search for solutions may become wider, involving more people and a larger part of their consciousness.

This type of effort was important in the mid 19th Century when Debit and Credit was written. It will become even more important today as we stand on the threshold of a new era.

Saturday, August 08, 2009 by Mats Larsson