Q8. Samira El Ouassil and Friedemann Karig; Narrating monkeys

The most important book I read after my "summer series" is by Samira El Ouassil and Friedemann Karig and has the self-explanatory title "Erzählende Affen" and the equally clear subtitle "Mythen, Lügen, Utopien; Wie Geschichten unser Leben bestimmen"; (Ullstein, 2021).

It's another groundbreaking book, like the last one I cited here (about the feelings of Neanderthals). Although the book once again traditionally places us in a row with apes (in the lower sense: with apes), this title should not be interpreted as an insult here either; it could easily be called "Narrating Animals". This fascinating book is primarily about the narratives, tales and stories that we have been telling ourselves since the dawn of humanity. And about their power to determine, orientate and change our collective (but also individual) lives. Even if many of these stories are not just utopias, but also myths or brutal and deliberate lies.
The most important thing for me personally, however, I only found on the last page of this book. That's why I'm quoting it here word for word.

"Our thesis was and is that narratives, packaged in powerful cultural products, political programmes or platitudinous pop songs, have the greatest transformative power today. And not despite, but because we rarely perceive them as such, but pass them on with all the more relish. But we have also recognised this: Some of the strongest (and most mendacious) narratives of our time are anti-hero journeys. They promise people no adventure, no journey, no transformation. Their message is as fatal as it is seductive: everything can stay as it is. We don't have to change at all.
If you could knit yourself a narrative, what would it look like? Would you rather be a hero or a mentor? How willing are you to put everything on the line? Where are you an antagonist, but no longer want to be? What story of ourselves and humanity would we like to tell? Perhaps the moment has come when, as in the film Matrix, we have to choose between the blue pill and the red pill (with all due caution about this often abused motif): Do we want to wake up or go back to sleep?
If we have one piece of advice at the end of this book, it is the one you hear most often in safety training programmes for crisis situations. If we are faced with danger, it is advisable to act before things get dicey. So: Don't be a hero. Don't be a hero. Remain a storytelling monkey. Tell yourself and your loved ones the story of a good future. Let this story begin with a bet on a happy ending. Ask yourself honestly where you are the protagonist and where the antagonist. Invent utopias, fantasise paradisiacal conditions, be courageous. Join forces with others who have so far only dared to dream.
But above all: don't wait for the trigger before you act. Start your journey today."

I have followed this heartfelt appeal before, not only "fantasising" about the possibility of creating "paradisiacal conditions" on Earth in the near future, but also substantiating them scientifically. I have sent a message to Samira El Ouasill with a link to my book "Me, You, and All of Us; Where Do We Come From and How Can We Build a Family Democracy" (https://www.bod.de/buchshop/ich-du-und-wir-alle-peter-jakubowski-9783754341483). Let's see if she will be the first to recognise this utopia as her own.

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