What I like about Patreon is the giving back side of it. When I put up my second recipe for December, a chat about it ensued on Twitter. I'll send out a new year's gift along with my January material, because anyone who supports people in the Arts deserve extras.
My extra for the day is a surprising insight into Trump and Brexit and Hanson and their ilk. I've been trying to find out what narratives lie behind the success of these figures and ideas. Most people have focussed on the narratives as given by the Farages of this world, but those came from somewhere and reached fertile ground. The fertile ground was obvious in some senses, and those aspects have been discussed - things like socio-economics. But some of the fertile ground has to come from narratives. The stories of the powermongers fit in with the stories people expect to see: this is critical to achieving votes.
I've seen mentions of studies floated around: that false news is more likely to be believed by some people than others, for instance. This just reinforced to me that I was missing narratives. It means that there are entire groups of public narratives that look daft and angry and destructive to me because I don't have matched narratives for them. In fact, my narratives encourage me to debunk them and criticise them and resize them. I've seen this narrative differential in the Middle Ages. Not as marked for our medieval evidence is mainly literary and the society itself wasn't, but enough to make it clear that stories count. So many men would have stayed at home and not crusaded without a certain type of saints' tale and the chanson de geste. This has been so clear to me for a while that, when asked by various people (because of my interesting past) what they can do personally to change the current situation, I always say "Use your writerly power to cahnge the narratives." Sometime they see instantly what they can do (on social media, for instance) and sometimes we talk longer. Still, I was hampered by not having seen enough narratives personally to understand the problem.
I'd love to say that I'm hampered no longer, but I know where to look, at least. I've been browsing in the book sales and I'm reading some Tamil pulp. And that's where a slab of the missing narratives lie. They were never going to have been actually missing. They had to be major. They include things like daytime soaps and tabloids.
I don't know why I didn't think of pulp. Maybe it's because, in Australia, there's a nice intellectual move to bring back pulp. Except it's not really pulp, it's a revisited thoughtful homage to it. It's pulp resized...
Tamil pulp is real pulp. There is a mixture of melodrama and everyday that entirely ties the voters to those who shout the messages.
I suspect that there are many, many sources of these narratives, and that the access we have to the cultures of our ancestors through the marvels of modern media reinforces some of them.
Someone must be studying this and, when I'm ready, I'll hunt out the studies and find out how it all fits together. My thought of the day is how relieved I am that it *does* fit together. Of course, it doesn't make this world of ours a gentler and kinder place, but at least I can understand why the unkindness is so sharp right now and why a whole heap of people in a large number of countries seem convinced that they need to hurt themselves and their friends by taking quite specific political action.
We still need more robust narratives to change the world. But it helps me deal when I can see where the complexities come from. It's not the false news: it's the people who see it as authentic news because of the way its expressed fits the news narratives they've been taught to accept through the political narratives they've been taught to expect... through their reading.
I have two volumes of translated Tamil pulp. It's going to be good for me. And I admit, it was a choice between these and the Australian equivalent, which (if the book sales are telling me what I think they are) were James Patterson, much erotica, and Westerns.
I needed to read these two volumes anyhow: the insights are a bonus. Another bonus from them is that I think I'll expand this idea and talk about it for my patrons. Show them how a Tamil pulp story led me to this point.
In the meantime, though, I have to work on fiction, for there's a lot of fiction to work on. This isn't the strange novel - this is an old new novel ie it's for Satalyte, which means, unless it's so horrendous that my editor screams and tears his hair, you'll see it in print sooner or later. Later if I spend my time here rather than there!