Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Story Time: The Nature and Impact of Storytelling in a Postmodern World

Since the publication in 1605 of the first modern novel, Don Quixote, a myriad of rules have been posed on how to construct the ideal story. As the playwright and novelist W. Somerset Maugham quipped, however, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are” (GoodReads, 2015). In the postmodern era, literary figures have questioned how storytelling as a literary form impacts literature and the general human consciousness.

Storytelling has been a part of our world since the beginning of recorded history. The Iliad, Jesus’ parables, diverse Native American legends, and countless other stories have been used to provide entertainment, teach morals, and preserve culture.

By examining the elements of storytelling, effects of storytelling on readers, and the appeal of storytelling in a postmodern context, we can begin to establish a philosophy of contemporary storytelling. It is worthwhile to note that storytelling is distinct from formal novel-writing which, despite its use of storytelling, has traditionally followed rules by which storytelling, in its most organic form, has not been bound.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I Finally Understand the Problem with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

November 3, 2015

For a long time, I was confused by the condemnation of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy adopted by Bill Clinton's administration regarding sexual orientation in the army. Since then, however, I've had the chance to see this policy in its philosophical form among many conservative circles, who assert that if you're gay, it's fine to politely request that you keep your sexual orientation and related activities private.

Concerning the policy itself, some make the argument that gay men are unfit to be in the army because of how close men have to live while on duty. List of things wrong with this argument:
  • Men, contrary to popular myth, don't think about sex all the time (Source)
  • Being attracted to men or to women is NOT the same as being attracted to all men or all women
  • Exercising sexual restraint is a reasonable and normal part of life
  • Consenting adults deserve as little interference from the government as possible
But of course, the army policy in question has been revoked. Yes, and that is a good thing. But the philosophy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is still far too common in US culture. The way it works out in practice is everyone is allowed to assume that everyone is heterosexual, despite 5-15% of all Americans belonging to a sexual minority.