Eco-tipping points and the power of narrative in literature


Tipping Points

A narrative is a story, a sequence of written or spoken words. It is in many ways the foundation that all literature stands upon, that makes language intelligible and shares understanding, whether it is a fictional or factual event. Thus if narratives of various kinds structure the imagined world, they also structure reality, our social world. Humans recount experiences through storytelling and create fictions with words because narratives can explain what could happen, allowing forms of agency that otherwise would not exist.

In the ancient world myths – themselves transported in narrative form – reduced the alien and threatening complexity of experience to an intelligible meaning shared within a particular community. In our modern world novels can be argued to perform an analogous function. As aesthetic discourse, in the form of fictional and imaginary accounts, novels are able to assimilate into their imagined world other discourses – about religion, war…

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