It’s funny how things transpire. My father was visiting from England this Christmas and during many of our conversations I brought up the subject of mental health, so much so that by the end of his trip, dad had started to joke about how I thought everyone had some kind of mental disorder. Not quite true but I could see where he was coming from. Anyway, by the last few days I decided to humour him by bringing it up more and weaving mental health issues into all of our conversations. While doing this I found myself turning to dad’s partner and, while winking saying ‘don’t worry, I’m just feeding the narrative’ knowing full well that dad was quite likely to go back home and spread the story of how his oldest daughter has become obsessed with the mind.
Feeding the narrative. Interesting concept……
Anyway, I left the idea alone a bit until this week when, listening to the radio I heard Bruce Pascoe talking about his book Dark Emu (which I have on order and will be reading in the next week or two). Suddenly the words ‘feeding the narrative’ came whooshing back into the front of my brain with a force and energy that just couldn’t be ignored. Bruce talks about Australian Aboriginal culture as it really is and not how it was viewed and interpreted through white settlers eyes. A perspective that seems so obvious and yet has been so ignored and under-prioritised for so long in our history, to the point that even what we learn at school is wrong.
I realised that we (non aboriginals) have been fed a narrative based more on prejudiced perception than reality.
But narratives need feeding.
Pull people in.
And with that I was reminded of this book on social theory by Fredric Jameson – The Political Unconscious. Narrative as a socially symbolic act.
and I am once again reminded that we must take full responsibility for the narratives we feed for they might just come back and eat us up for dinner.