Kinds of tension...
Tension tied to familiar, safe, and
mostly certain: Roller Coaster
Tension tied to familiar, safe, and
somewhat uncertain: Turbulence
on an airplane
Tension tied to the unfamiliar,
unsafe and uncertain: lost in the
woods and being chased by a bear
1. How do you define “progress”?
2. Are you optimistic about the future? If so, why? If not, why not?
3. What do you see as threats to the environment?
4. Do you believe there is a connection between climate change and
5. If you believe that climate change exists and that there is a
connection between this change and human behavior, do you feel that
the response among most individuals, communities, and countries has
been sufficient? If so, how and why? If not, why do you think it has not
been sufficient and what more needs to be done?
A bunch of starlings build a nest in the attic of a
family’s house, gaining access to the attic through a
torn vent screen. Soon the eggs hatch, and every
morning at sunrise the family is awakened by the
sound of birds squawking and wings beating
against rafters as starlings fly in and out of the
houses to feed the hatchlings. After losing
considerably morning sleep, the family repairs the
screen. Unable to get in and out, the parent birds
are unable to feed their young. The birds die within
a day. Is this cruelty to animals?
Respond with either, “Yes, because...” or “No, because...” and
provide 2-3 reasons (beginning with “because”).
*Every time you link a claim
with a reason, you make a
silent assumption that may
need to be articulated,
examined, and supported.
Claim with reason: It was OK for
the family to patch the screen and
kill the starlings because the
starlings are pests.
Where do our assumptions about our
world come from?
How do they shape the way that we
respond to and—most importantly—
interpret situations, issues, and problems?
How do our assumptions prevent us from
working together to acknowledge,
understand, and begin to solve problems?
One thing that informs our thinking (and
our assumptions): stories and repeated
“A hero ventures forth from the world of
common day into a region of supernatural
wonder: fabulous forces are there
encountered and a decisive victory is won:
the hero comes back from this mysterious
adventure with the power to bestow boons
on his fellow man.” ~ Joseph Campbell
The Lion,TheWitch, andTheWardrobe
Toy Story II,Toy Story III
#1. The Call
The call to adventure is the point in a person's
life when they are first given notice that
everything is going to change, whether they
know it or not.
Refusal of the Call
Often when the call is given, the future hero
refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense
of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense
of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons
that work to hold the person in his or her
The Road of Trials
The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks,
or ordeals that the person must undergo to
begin the transformation. Often the person
fails one or more of these tests, which
often occur in threes.
The Crossing of the First Threshold
This is the point where the person actually crosses into
the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or
her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous
realm where the rules and limits are not known.
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously
or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper
appears, or becomes known.
The Belly of the Whale
The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the
hero's known world and self. It is sometimes described as the
person's lowest point, but it is actually the point when the
person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves.
The separation has been made, or is being made, or being
fully recognized between the old world and old self and the
potential for a new world/self.
By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to
undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.
The Meeting with the Goddess
The meeting with the goddess represents the point in
the adventure when the person experiences a love that
has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all
encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate
infant may experience with his or her mother.
Woman as the Temptress
At one level, this step is about those temptations
that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from
his or her quest, which as with the Meeting with
the Goddess does not necessarily have to be
represented by a woman.
Atonement with the Father
In this step the person must confront and be initiated by
whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many
myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has
life and death power. This is the center point of the journey.
For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she
has been must be "killed" so that the new self can come into
being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for
that character is either over or moves into a different realm.
To apotheosize is to deify. When someone dies a
physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or
she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of
divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. It is a
period of rest before the hero begins the return.
The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the
quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All
the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person
for this step, since in many myths the boon is something
transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that
supplies immortality, or the holy grail.
Refusal of the Return
So why, when all has been achieved, why come back to normal life with all
its cares and woes?
The Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the
gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and
dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
Beyond the Blockbuster
1960-1972 Hollywood blockbuster, mega-budget
films lost billions of dollars
1980—By 1980, large Hollywood studios were
earning incredible, almost unimaginable profit...
1. WHAT HAPPENED?
2. WHAT ARETHE LASTING EFFECTS OFTHIS
#1. A Nixon-sponsored tax scheme
#2. Studios found ways to
integrate their business with
television, cable, record
companies, and home video.
(More on this in a moment.)
#3. A new generation of film directors
emerged....and they succeeded financially:
The French Connection (1971)
The Godfather (1972)
American Graffiti (1973)
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Star Wars (1977)
Jaws earned $260 million (or 5,510,223,600 kroner today)
Star Wars earned $307 million (or, 52,371,740.41 kroner today)
Studio decision makers decided to focus their
efforts on making mega-pictures, or
Economies of Scale
New acquisition mentality
“Keeping Up” and being “with it”
“Cultural buzz” and media-driven spectacle
“Flexibility within limits”
“Since the late 1910s, Hollywood
cinema has constituted the world’s
primary tradition of visual
storytelling, and despite decades [of
change], the tradition has remained
true to its fundamental premises.”
“All art forms have certain
•“A film’s main characters [...] should
pursue important goals and face forbidding
•Conflict should be constant, across the
whole film and within each scene.
•Actions should be bound into a tight chain of
cause and effect.
•Major events should be foreshadowed
(‘planted’), but not so obviously that the viewer
can predict them.
•TENSIONshould rise in the course
of the film UNTIL A CLIMAX RESOLVES ALL
~The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies
“If you want proof that contemporary Hollywood is
formula-ridden, look no further than Syd Field’s
‘Paradigm,’ with turning points absolutely required
on pages 25-27 and 85-90.”
The 3-Act Structure
Act One: Introduces the problems faced
by the hero, ending with the crisis and the
promise of major conflict...30 pages
Act Two: Consists of an extended
struggle between the protagonist and his or
her problem, and it ends at a point of even
more sever testing for the hero...60 pages
Act Three: Shows the protagonist
solving the problem...30 pages
What are the elements (or parts) that each of
these movie trailers have in common?
Think, for example, in terms of music, plot,
light, color, speed, close-ups, establishing
shots, character types, etc.
What else do you see as similar to each of these?
Font? Light? Content? Color?
Which one is entertaining?
Which one is terrifying?
Intersection = the overlap of two worlds, that specific to the narrative world of
characters/heroes and quest and that tied often implicitly to the world of the
But, climate change the controversy about what causes it (and thus what causes climate
time to accelerate) complicates this otherwise neat equation considerably.
“The heroic quest is the privileged medium for this self-presentation. It, more than any
other form, is the narrative of preoccupation” (43).
The hero in the heroic quest affects time?
“…every narrative combines two dimensions in various proportions, one chronological
and the other nonchronological. The first may be called the episodic dimension, which
characterizes how the story as made out events. The second is the configuralational
dimension, according to that which the plot construes significant wholes out of scattered
“Here I am borrowing from Louis O. Mink the notion of a configurational act, which he
interprets as a ‘grasping together.’ I understand this act to be the act of the plot, as
eliciting a pattern of succession. This act displays the character of a judgment or, more
precisely, a reflective judgment in the Kantian sense of this term.
“To tell and follow a story is already to reflect upon events in order to encompass them in
successive wholes. This dimension is completely overlooked in the theory of history
proposed by antinarrativist writers. They tend to deprive narrative activity of its
complexity and, above all, of its twofold characteristic of confronting and combining both
sequence and pattern in various ways.”
THE PROBLEM tied to climate-related disaster movies: this situation wherein the
emphasis on judgment is erased or overshadowed by the implicit fact that to tell a
story is to “reflect upon events in order to encompass them in successive wholes”
means that, when we are being told a story, we assume that it is one told from a
point in the future of the inset story, after all problems have been resolved, even
though we experience a kind of anxiety and tension regarding how it will, in the
end, end. This denies not only the narrative and narrative activity of its
“complexity” but it also causes people in this world hearing about climate-related
problems to practice the same kind of passive, simple thinking about problems: we
assume, since we are being told about the problems, they will (and, truly, already
have) be worked out.
“The temporal implications of this twofold structure of the plot are so striking that
we may already conjecture that narrative does more than just establish humanity,
along with human actions and passions, ‘in’ time; it also brings us back from within-
time-ness to historicality, from ‘reckoning with’ time to ‘recollecting’ it. As such, the
narrative function provides a transition from within-time-ness to historicality” (44).
These two temporal markers are key to our relationship to climate-change and how
we formulate stories and narratives of and about it: are with within this time or are
we after it, reflecting on it; are we reckoning with it or are recollecting it? I suspect
it’s both, in most cases. If we are within it, we assume—as is customary when it
comes to experiencing narratives—that this uncomfortable position with respect to
the plot will soon give way to a more privileged post-plot position common to