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The Crisis of Narration - Byung-Chul Han

The Crisis of Narration

By: Byung-Chul Han, Daniel Steuer (Translator)

Paperback | 17 May 2024

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Narratives produce the ties that bind us. They create community, eliminate contingency and anchor us in being. And yet in our contemporary information society, where everything has become arbitrary and random, storytelling becomes storyselling and narratives lose their binding force. 

Whereas narratives create community, storytelling brings forth only a fleeting community – the community of consumers. No amount of storytelling could recreate the fire around which humans gather to tell each other stories. That fire has long since burnt out. It has been replaced by the digital screen, which separates people rather than bringing them together. Through storytelling, capitalism appropriates narrative: stories sell. They are no longer a medium of shared experience.

The inflation of storytelling betrays a need to cope with contingency, but storytelling is unable to transform the information society back into a stable narrative community. Rather, storytelling as storyselling is a pathological phenomenon of our age. Byung-Chul Han, one of the most perceptive cultural theorists of contemporary society, dissects this crisis with exceptional insight and flair.

Industry Reviews
“an entertaining polemic … animated by a Cassandra sensibility that expects warnings to go unheeded.”
Stuart Jeffries, The Observer

“Powerful.”
Matthew Gasda, First Things

“[Han] is a serious and committed writer, relentless in his disdain for the way social media platforms and algorithms have disrupted our personal, political, and spiritual lives.”
ArtAsiaPacific

“A valuable confrontation with the question of what ‘narrative’ actually is … thoughtful and generative.”
The Conversation

“Like a Sartre for the age of screens, Han puts words to our prevailing condition of not-quite-hopeless digital despair.”
The New Yorker

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