Never has society been so capable of changing quickly as it is now.

Twelve years ago, I spent over a year cave-crawling the corridors of dragon mythology, reading many books on the subject.  That adventure evolved to a study of the cultures that were connected to the ancient serpent myths that spawned later dragon tales.  The serpent/dragon cycle of myths and legends began long before recorded time and extends to the present day.  China is the society perhaps most committed to the dragon as metaphor, a society famous for its hesitation to transform.

Clearly, that is changing.

Up until the present day, the stories a society would tell itself anchored that culture, offered solace to its citizens, informed an understanding of experiences society could not easily explain, providing cohesion and a clear sense of community.  Science has usurped much of the power of myth, but our compulsion to use myth or story to make sense of our world continues unabated.  Whereas the serpent/dragon stories retained power to comfort and explain for thousands of years, the stories we tell ourselves now change with economic cycles, news cycles and youtube fads.

A martial artist practices many moves many times until he or she can exhibit spontaneous flexible creativity when responding to an opponent.  An ability to adjust quickly to novel circumstances has everything to do with practicing a wide variety of techniques so that a large selection of behaviors is available when the environment demands a unique response.

Western and now world culture is practicing mythology, like a martial artist practices kicks, in ways unimaginable even 75 years ago.  Commercials experiment with myth and story, looking for a message that snags.  Successful communications are reproduced by competitors until the effect wanes.  Another variation emerges.  Several myths-as-advertising cycles are running concurrently at any time.  Countless demographic subgroups are being targeted and tracked as what is most effective reaching those subgroups keeps demanding revision.

This is like a martial art of story telling, using words as a weapon, except the new moves keep getting invented.  Instead of practicing a tradition, we have evolved a martial art that practices novelty.

TV, song, print, video and gaming and film find themselves modifying in response to an audience demanding more and move novelty in what it experiences.  At the same time, media guide their audience to crave more change.

Runaway sexual selection is an evolutionary process whereby mate selection encourages the exponential increase of extreme features over generations through time.  Usually it is the male selected for something specific, for example, an Asian fish’s long tail.  The female becomes selected for her ability and compulsion to make that selection.  Over generations, the male’s tail becomes longer and longer, the female more discriminating.

Tall tales in our cultures have become the subject of the human compulsion to appraise and embrace, to sexually select just about everything in our experience.  Except humans don’t require copulation to experience satisfaction that a decision between two options was satisfying.  The stories we tell each other, the grounding myths of our culture, have themselves become the subject of our craving for novelty.  Without being consciously aware of what we have been doing, we have become sensitive appraisers of reality, like the female mate of a long-tailed fish craving long-tailed males.  We are moving at astonishing speed into a completely relativistic frame of reference.

We have prepared ourselves to experience profound change at an extremely rapid rate.  Having abandoned the established myths, rejected most of the old stories and demanded new stories at increasingly rapid speeds, we have made ourselves available to any future we could possibly devise.

Could our future possibly offer the option of experiencing the world without story?  Is it possible that in the future, the veil of myth and story will fade and we will consciously be able to choose myth or no myth?

To be able to respect, experience and appreciate the networks that we are a part of–biological, societal, personal–we need to be able to let the scales fall from our eyes.  We are now more facile with story than we have ever been.  Just in time.


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