Narrative Capitals

Narrative Capitals

Foto Serie rid 150This section contains all of Luigino Bruni's editorials of the series entitled "Narrative Capitals", published in Avvenire from 12 November 2017

 

 

The Infinite Meekness that Saves Us

Narrative Capitals/10 - The challenge to prevent the transformation of the ideal into ideology

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 14/01/2018

180114 Capitali narrativi 10 rid“And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners (the people bound inside the cave) are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light... ...do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them (among the prisoners - the tr.)? ...I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner. ...would he not be ridiculous? ...and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.”

Plato The Republic (English translation by Benjamin Jowett)

It is typical of ideological thinking - of every ideology but above all those of a religious nature - to create a dichotomic or gnostic type of representation of the world. Happiness, beauty, truth, and the special light of those who are inside that experience are exalted, and the ordinary happiness and beauty of those who are outside are devalued. Friendship, work, play, art and everyone's life are not enough anymore. There is a need to load these realities with additional, extraordinary and diverse meanings. And soon we end up no longer being able to rejoice in seeing a "friend and nothing more", of "just working and nothing more", of "just praying and that’s all", of "just painting and that’s all". We begin to believe that simple life is not enough to live. And while we are convinced that we live more than others, we risk ceasing to really live.

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Authenticity Cannot Be Simulated

Narrative Capitals/9 Childlike spirit is the summit of adult life

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 07/01/2018

180107 Capitali narrativi 09 rid“But one had to be talented to be able to age without becoming an adult ".

Jacques Brel-Franco BattiatoThe Song of Old Lovers (La canzone dei vecchi amanti)

Every organization and every community would like to have members who authentically identify with their institutional mission, genuinely love its narratives and truly believe in what they say and do. This difficult operation of sincere individual identification with the institutional mission succeeds very well in the context of ideal-driven communities and organizations (IDO), especially when ideals are so high that they puncture the sky and let us glimpse paradise. This creates a perfect synergy between the individual and the community. Everyone believes, hopes, loves and desires the things of all others, without this "socialization of the heart" being experienced as the alienation and expropriation of the hearts of individuals.

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Fraternity Has Hands and Feet

Narrative Capitals/8 - Founding and continuing without haste, just like equilibrists

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 31/12/2017

171230 Capitali narrativi 08 ridWhen a truly original genius makes its appearance in the world, people make haste to get rid of it. To achieve this goal they have two methods. The first is elimination. In the event of failure, they adopt the second method (which is much more radical and hideous): exaltation, putting it on a pedestal and transforming it into a "god".

Lu Xun, An Introduction to a The sayings of Confucius

At the origins of many communities and movements there is an experience of intense and deep closeness, among all of the members and - in the first place - with the founders. It is an extended kind of intimacy that exalts and develops the intimacy of each person. This particular "relational good" attracts, fills and fascinates no less than the ideal message received and announced. The contact of hearts and bodies, the sharing of the same table where meals prepared together are eaten, the real hugs to the "lepers" that immediately become true and different hugs exchanged with each other upon returning home. These are radically anti-immunitarian experiences, precisely because the many forms of mediation that we have invented in order not to touch the "wound of the other” are not there yet.

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The Great Wings of Life

Narrative Capitals/7 - Bad culture chases good existence away

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 24/12/2017

171223 Capitali narrativi 07 ridBut when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. (...) But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Paul , Letter to the Galatians (2:11; 14)

Life has its fullness that in itself has the power to satisfy and satiate. The moon, the dawn, the sunset, pain, love, a gaze, a child, are more concrete and true incarnate words than the words we use to describe them. If this were not so, we would not understand why most people, yesterday and today, do not know how to compose poems or theological essays, yet they can touch life at the same depth as the poet or the philosopher. It is this direct access to the mystery of existence that really makes us all equal under the sun, before the many differences and inequalities, whether they are good or bad. And that, perhaps, makes us occasionally able to feel a true universal fraternity with animals, plants, and the earth, that we feel alive, just like ourselves. But, as it often happens, this infinite richness can also be transformed, in some cases, into a form of poverty.

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The Naked Freedom of the Eyes

Narrative Capitals/6 - What matters is to recognise deceitful prophets and storytellers

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 17/12/2017

171217 Capitali narrativi 6 ridPoverty is the first virtue to be discovered by all founders, and the first one to be forgotten by their successors.

Carlo Maria Martini, Per amore, per voi, per sempre (“For love, for you, forever” - the tr.)

Ideology is a very common and serious illness in ideal-driven organizations (IDO), and it develops especially during the crisis of narrative capital, when amidst the shortage of true stories to tell the offer of new artificial stories that seem to respond to the hunger for sense and future that is hitting the community becomes very seductive. Ideology is the neurosis of the ideal - just as idolatry is the neurosis of faith. Among the many forms that ideologies take, a particularly frequent and dangerous form is the one suggested by Spanish writer Don Juan Manuel’s novel entitled El Conde Lucanor (Tales of Count Lucanor), which is the medieval source of the fairy tale The Emperor's New Clothes. But, unlike its various modern rewritings, in the original novel we find precious elements to add new words to our discourse on movements and communities that originate from ideals, charismas and motivations that are different and larger than the economic ones.

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The Different Power of Desires

Narrative Capitals/5 - There is no more vital guarantee than “freedom-without-guarantees”

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 10/12/2017

171203 Capitali narrativi 5 rid«Human desire will forever remain only in its irreducible character (resistant to) any reduction and adaptation. »

Jacques Lacan The Seminar of; Book V (English translation by Cormac Gallagher)

It is not uncommon for experiences born in the name of gratuitousness to end up coming into conflict with the very gratuitousness that generated them. In many companies, the ‘simple’ goal of maximizing profit already produces organizations that do everything they can to try to direct all the available energies of their workers towards this end. But if the mission of an ideal-driven organization (IDO) is the definitive redemption of the poor or, perhaps, the conversion of the world, the members are asked to direct all available and even unavailable energies, possibly their entire life towards such a high cause. And so it often happens that in the practice of the IDO there is less freedom and gratuitousness than in the companies and organizations that the IDO criticizes precisely because of the lack of gift and freedom.

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The Road to Damascus Is Normal

Narrative Capitals/4 - Founding and Saving facts and acts aren’t always striking

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 03/12/2017

171203 Capitali narrativi 4 rid“Only infinite love can reduce itself and, in order to become finite, become incarnated in order to love the other, to love the other as a finite other.”

Jacques Derrida The Gift of Death (English translation by: David Wills)

Narrative capitals are pluralistic. Not all the stories they are composed of have the same value. Only a few are able to carry the weight of the new construction. ‘Wheat’ and ‘weeds’ are found in all fields of the earth, including those special fields where our ideals grow. At the beginning we must grow all the plants in the field, because - as the great evangelical metaphor says - if the peasants intervened to eradicate the weeds they would also tear away the good and precious ears of wheat.

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On the wounds of the earth

Narrative Capitals/3 - Great collective ideals germinate in seismic areas

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 26/11/2017

171125 Capitali narrativi 3 rid«Ci sono le voci.
Ci accompagnano.
Ci mordono.
Ci sussurrano brevissime consolazioni…
Ci comandano
ci sgridano
quasi mai ci lodano
gridano nelle notti insonni.
Le voci…
Di chi sono queste voci?»

Chandra Livia Candiani, Fatti vivo

The more we loved the great narratives we see vanishing, the more severe the famines of narrative capital are. When we had laid all our hearts, souls and minds in that good news, burned all our impossible desires, and it had become the dominant thought that did not let us sleep at night because we wanted to daydream our only true dream.

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Avoiding False Resurrections

Narrative Capitals/2 - Rising again should be learned and is only possible without a contract

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 19/11/2017

171119 Capitali narrativi 2 ridThe great writers project their shadow in two directions simultaneously. In one they offer their shadow to their predecessors, in the other to those who follow them".

Wislawa Szymborska, How to live more comfortably

The most tenacious and constant search that humans conduct on earth is the search for consolation. It is impossible to give it up, especially in difficult times of existence, when the pain of the present and the uncertainty of the future generate the invincible temptation to construct illusions in order not to die. Many people, even the great, interrupt their ethical and spiritual journey and regress when and because they give in to these terrible temptations.

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Reviving the Tree of Ideals

Narrative Capitals/1 - The new beginning of a spiritual and work heritage

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire il 12/11/2017

171112 Capitali narrativi 1 ridWe have to work in those intermediate areas between several orders of disciplines, in which exceptional wealth is often accumulated, like at the border of two different areas.

Achille Loria The Economic Foundations of Society

Communities, associations, movements, institutions and businesses live through many forms of capital. One of these is narrative capital, a precious resource in many organizations, which becomes essential in times of crisis and in the great changes on which the quality of the present, the possibility of the future, the blessing or curse of the past depend. It is the patrimony - that is, munus / gift of the fathers - made of stories, stories, writings, sometimes poems, songs and myths. It is a real capital because, like all capitals, it generates fruits and future. If the ideals of the organization or community are high and ambitious, as it happens in many ideal driven organizations (IDO), its narrative capital is also great. It is a precious resource during the first difficulties, when telling each other the great episodes of yesterday gives courage to continue to hope, believe and love today.

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