The Crisis of Narration

Byung-Chul Han


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John Wiley and Sons Ltd
2 February 2024
ISBN: 9781509560431
100 pages

From the publisher

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 It has been replaced by the digital screen, which separates people rather than bringing them together.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.