Podcast Episode
S4 E62: The Uniting Power of Story | Angus Fletcher | Jordan B. Peterson Podcast
The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast  •  Nov 30, 2021  •  1h 29m
This episode was recorded on September 7, 2021. Angus Fletcher and I discuss creativity, the link between literature and resilience, what makes for compelling narratives, the different kinds of stories, and much more. Angus Fletcher is a Professor of Story Science at Ohio State's Project Narrative, the world's leading academic think-tank for narrative theory. He is also the author of Wonderworks: The 25 Most Important Inventions in the History of Literature. [00:00] Intro [01:21] What is Project Narrative? [02:27] ""Stories are the most powerful things ever invented. They're the most powerful tool we possess"" Angus Fletcher [03:04] ""When you realize stories have the power to change how our mind works, to troubleshoot it, to make it more resilient, more creative, more scientific—to do all these things... When you couple the power of stories with the human brain, you throw open the doors to anything"" AF [03:53] The problem with literary studies. How stories empower us and improve performance [07:06] Wonderworks and the story of courage in Homer's Iliad [12:40] ""Literature and scripture are synonyms. They mean 'that which is written.' So [something] more fundamental than any technology... Is simply that sense of spiritual experience"" AF [13:18] The Neuropsychology of Anxiety by J. Grey [14:44] What are the 2 kinds of stories? [19:12] Story thinking [19:22] ""Human cognition is largely narrative. We process the world narratively"" AF [22:12] ""The wonder of being on this earth... is to build stories and [empower people] to tell their own"" AF ""And to unite us in a collective story so we can work towards the same ends"" JP [23:00] Why are certain stories so compelling? [24:48] The zone of proximal development [25:44] ""Being enthralled is a manifestation of the instinct that specifies the zone of proximal development"" JP [31:24] The ideal spirit transcending the individual; Jung's Pleroma [32:14] ""The flip side of anxiety is creativity—they're both about restless energy"" AF [33:31] What's the source of dreams? [33:55] ""We have this vast knowledge in embodied action."" A great storyteller takes ""images that reflect a compelling pattern of behavior [and verbalizes them]” JP [34:56] Abstract representation of patterns as a dream-source [38:43] Computational power, stories, and the differences between the abstract and particular [38:48] ""Much of what drives the demand for higher computational resources is... producing artificial realities for fantasy simulation"" JP  [45:51] Christianity and Star Wars [46:35] ""Star Wars is Christianity for atheist nerds"" JP [46:56] ""We are most happy when we don't perceive ourselves as inheriting an archetypal story"" AF [48:16] ""We see in stories, and this is partly why our eyes are adapted... so that people can see [the white in] our eyes. It's really important because [our eyes point at] what they're interested in. We can see what they value [and] infer their motivation"" JP [50:36] Literature and psychedelic experiences [51:27] ""In psychotherapy... you're trying to hammer the person's narrative into a single... functional unit"" JP [55:31] Trauma, unconscious mapping, and dream analysis [56:56] ""Any territory you cannot perceive through the overlaid projection of a narrative map is traumatizing"" JP  [59:59] Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Erich Neumann [01:02:51] Jung vs Darwin on stories [01:10:18] ""Literature can build emotional and intellectual resilience"" AF [01:14:55] Being adaptive is “to be emotionally and intellectually resilient"" AF [01:15:54] Creative training; measuring creativity
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