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Individual Paper: How Stories Make Worlds: the Ethics of Popular Fiction

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How Stories Make Worlds: the Ethics of Popular Fiction

In the attempt to establish dialogues between worldviews, it is important to consider the role of storytelling in the creation of worldviews, or, as I will argue, in the creation of worlds themselves. Rather than sharing a single coherent world, humans collaboratively create and populate multitudes of worlds through cultural symbolising practices that go hand in hand with the material systems of production and reproduction. First and foremost, these symbolising practices obviously consist of language and discourse being worked into coherent stories which give us knowledge about the world we live in. These rational explanations are coupled with feelings created through aesthetics for example in art and, increasingly, advertising. From this knowledge paired with feeling, maps of morality arise, which determine what is valued within a given world.

Hence, it follows that an ethical critique needs to be addressed at the systemic level of story, not at a personal level. Ethics then becomes a critical reflection of cultural stories and their aesthetics, as well as of the effects these have or will have on the human and non-human life of this planet. As part and parcel of the cultural imaginary, popular fiction therefore becomes a privileged site for this kind of ethical inquiry. In the interest of an ethics of possible future worlds, I look at contemporary popular future fictions like Avatar or Interstellar as extrapolations from actual present worlds and in their struggle for creating meaning and hegemonic stories. Embedded into the present economic power structures, I will show how these pieces of art are caught up in the dominant stories and worlds, while at the same time producing other worlds and stories that might work towards a more sustainable future.


Day: 2018-08-24
Start time: 11:00
Duration: 00:15
Room: ABF204
Track: Art for Degrowth



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