The meta-narrative story explains what’s human: OGB #2 Theogony by Hesiod

Hesiod

In Theogony, Hesiod pulls together all the popular stories of his day into one narrative. Since it’s one narrative explaining the common thread of many narratives, let’s call it a meta-narrative.

Meta-narrative = an overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences. – Oxford Dictionary

AH-HA

The Greeks wanted one narrative story that tied together all the common stories of their day. Through the one common meta-narrative, the Greeks found knowledge of their shared human condition.

The stories of Theogony include the massive Titans, the powerful Zeus, the forethinker Prometheus giving knowledge to man, and the gods’ punishment in response: the first woman Pandora who unleashes a box of evils upon humankind. Lightning bolts tore the sky and babies emerged from the force of love. From top-down, these stories justified worldly events and human behavior.

From bottom-up, a narrative is formed by human biological processes that interpret the world; these processes manifest as human behaviors; these combine into archetypes (“good” behaviors and “bad” behaviors); archetypes then map to language in a narrative story.

Different human people groups create different types of stories. This is because the biological processes and worldly events differ. Humans in arctic adopt different behavior than those in the desert.

But even in disparate people groups, common narratives emerge. For example, many groups strangely spoke about the common Flood Myths. Since the events and behaviors in the Flood narrative appear so widely, a catastrophic flood may have occurred and affected many humans in recent history. Or, many humans have experienced a tragic calamity that destroyed lives and resources. So, a flood should be in our human meta-narrative.

Humans thus share a common drive to “prepare for the flood,” by sacrificing present pleasure for the future benefits: e.g. by working to exchange time for money, or by social distancing to trade short-term contact for long-term health.

Summary

Narratives emerge from many different groups. A meta-narrative like Theogony incorporates all narratives. Thus, it explains what’s common among all of the narratives it uses. The commonalities are what we share. What we share is what it means to be human.

In the unknown, I have two tools: One of which is Structure.

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Me and a nice man, in China in late 2014

Here’s a picture of me with the Chinese Terracotta Warriors in late 2014. The man next to me and I had lunch for an hour afterward. Neither of us could speak each other’s language. But we got creative and used gestures, pointing, and big smiles.

The things that have withstood time have significance. Humans naturally select for ideas, beliefs, and heroes that explain and promote life in the best way.

I rely on external structures like the Warriors and language as guides. I am incomplete, finite, prone to wander, and often wrong. I could delude myself to do some stupid shit. When I wander off the path and start doing stupid shit, structure draws me back.

These are the things that give stability to my known world. Complex yet extendable structures enable me to incorporate unknowns into my narrative.

I live my life as a journey into the unknown parts of the Great Narrative

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Grant and Sahyli in Koh Samui, Thailand

My narrative is the reality I know. The Great Narrative is the reality I know and the unknown I don’t know. The moment I incorporate unknown bits into my experience, those bits become known in relation to things I already know.
The best humans incorporate the most unknown bits from the Great Narrative into their known personal narrative. They speak fresh truths, combine disparate concepts, and discover connections.
I live my life as a journey into the unknown parts of the Great Narrative.
To accept the hero’s journey is to make a choice to leave the safety of comforts. To journey into unknown chaos. Where I don’t know where the fuck I am. Where demons rip me to tears but treasures glisten around corners. Keep on taking in the unknown.

I live my life as a journey in the Great Narrative.

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“Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding” – Chengdu, China

What about a role within a greater Narrative? My actions fit within the societal wheel producing and recycling life. We give and receive belief in individual autonomy among other actors.
• Human life has value.
• We respect common law.
The Great Narrative needs actors. These actors have two attributes, which give the story drama:
• The ability to recognize the Narrative.
• The ability to believe they live apart from the Narrative.
A Narrative has a writer, or writers. The writer sets the story in motion. She never knows where the story will go or whether it will end.
The Great Narrator whispers to me through the shimmering essence of things in the Great Narrative. The voice floats at the edge of order and chaos. My conscience begs me to burst from underneath the surface of my expression.
Maybe you’ve lost touch with the voice that percolates through the silent noise when you’re bored with nothing to consume.
But I haven’t.
It’s there.
I listen to it.