Podcast transcript 0020: Bought and sold and bought again

Link to podcast episode.


Reading: ‘No Thanks’.

That was ‘No Thanks’, a poem by Nven Mrgan , who describes it as “A poem made up of ad-closing link text.”

I’ve been thinking about storytelling lately. We’re wired for stories, aren’t we? In the ‘No Thanks’ poem, we can instantly recognize the inauthenticity in these ad pitches. The story doesn’t sit right. We can see where it’s going but we don’t follow to the end. 

So what about the cultures of fear and hierarchy we create and perpetuate in our organizations? Made out of stories. Same goes for the culture we swim in, or drown in.

The philosopher Richard Rorty said it. “The world does not speak. Only we do.” If there’s hope in anything, it’s the idea that we can change these stories.

Think of people as individuals – as selves – who are going through this process of being selves, rather than as completed, final, static things. We’re processes, not souls. We’re on the train, experiencing the ride of being ourselves, and the stories we hear and repeat are the landscapes flitting by past the window in patterns of light and shadow and detail. If we find stories that we can tell and believe in, we can change the world.

I give the last word to Arundhati Roy, with a little excerpt from an essay in her amazing book,  War Talk: “Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness—and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling—their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”