Welcome to the new, all-singing, all-dancing apoplectic.me. (Disclaimer: May still not sing or dance.) Please get in touch if you have any thoughts on the new design , and particularly if there are any features you think should be added.
If you look to your right, you can see
the Kingdom of Fife; please prepare for landing a new feature on the blog. It’s a blogroll containing links to other stroke blogs featuring different voices and different stories. I’d encourage anyone reading this to click through, particularly if you’re interested in learning more about the stroke experience or exercising your empathetic imagination.
In with those stroke survivor blogs is a link to Friendoftheblogjen’s posts at the Demos Policyshop, and my other new favourite blog, Through The Looking Glass. TTLG is by Alice Bell, “an academic and writer interested in science, technology, the environment and medicine when they become part of public policy, the media and popular culture.” Last week, she posted an entry called ‘Energy “Futures”‘ that touches on favourites topic at apoplectic.me — science fiction and the power of stories — but on a global scale. Ms. Bell cites a collection of academic sociology pieces in noting that that:
the future… is actively created in the present through contested claims and counterclaims over its potential. (Contested Futures, Brown, Rappert, & Webster, 2000)
While the formation of global energy policy may seem impossibly far removed from our everyday lives (it’s not), I was immediately put in mind of a pressing national issue.
The Scottish independence referendum debate is an example of battling narratives. The Yes campaign is presenting a studious face in the, er, face, of the stereotype of the foaming at the mouth Braveheart Nationalist.
The Better Together campaign has a slightly different story to tell.
In this version of the story, North Sea oil runs out on the day after the referendum. Given the Scots’ innate stupidity and laziness, law and order begin to break down, and riots erupt over who’s going to get the last Tunnocks Tea Cake.
Of course, the oil industry has been claiming for over twenty years that the oil will have dried up by next week, for various reasons. But it’s still disappointing to come across a lot of Scots who will repeat versions of the Better Together narrative as gospel, as if the UK has been ruled by some sort of amalgam of King Arthur, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela for the past 34 years.
Aye, Salmond seems bright enough. But I don’t trust him. I like that lassie, his deputy. But who else is there?
Stories, as I’ve previously remarked, remain important right down to the individual level. I recently came across a tweet from my time in the Hospital For Joint Diseases:
Goal for end of the year. Jogging in Prospect Park. — Ricky Brown (@ricky_ballboy) November 15, 2012
It didn’t happen, of course. I did manage to find myself on a corner in BoCoCa, freezing my BoLloCks off and wondering where the hell the car service HQ had disappeared to. But the power of the story that I had envisioned was enough to have me smilingly sign up for double in-patient physical therapy sessions at the weekends. Now the problem is reversed. A person might look at me, see a bearded, impossibly young-looking, sexually-accomplished man, and think “There’s not much wrong with him,” “I’m perfectly justified barging past him to get on the bus,” or “Weird walking action? I didn’t see that. And I can’t feel that weird strokiness in your arm, either.”
So, what do global energy policy, the independence referendum, and Stroke Bloke’s stroke have in common? Alice Bell notes that “too often… narrations of the future [are] built by powerful actors and institutions which become ‘the motorways channeling policy, governance and interventions’.” Both sides of the debate on Scottish independence are, I would like to think, motivated by a cocktail of desire to see what is best for Scotland, self-interest, and a commitment to the stories they have been told over the years. And it’s easy to be a dick to another individual if you only see the story you want to see.
It’s twenty years now since I learned about critical legal studies, and that (to grossly simplify) legal materials are not determinative of outcome. Instead, legal decisions are political decisions or power plays dressed in the trappings of apparently impartial legal reasoning.
CLS is out of fashion these days, but I’ve carried its formative lessons with me, even if — as the links that pepper apoplectic.me signify — I do have a tendency to read news sources that will chime with my own views. Do try to be aware of the power of stories. Don’t parrot bollocks without kicking the tyres first. Don’t undermine yourself with tortured mixed metaphors. And try to stay informed. Especially if you might be about to be a dick.
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