The Story within a Story

Dan Hanrahan
2 min readJul 18, 2022

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In the not-too-distant future, there will be only one theme for our art to speak of. The changes brought about by the abrupt transfer of carbon and methane from their subterranean holds into the delicate tissue of the Earth atmosphere, coupled with the mass-scale, terrifying habitat destruction & species reduction pursued by humans, means that artists who are listening will encounter and will be urged to express the truth that was forgotten or obliterated. The catastrophe we are facing could only be there if this truth were forgotten or obliterated. We are now forced to remember it.

Surveying the range of human mythology, Joseph Campbell posited a common theme to all of our stories. He called it the mono-myth, and it goes like this: the hero faces a crisis and must descend into the underworld to risk death, struggle to survive, hopefully discover inner reservoirs of strength & ultimately gain wisdom and return to the world s/he left. In some traditions, *the wisdom that the hero gains is the knowledge that all beings and all landscapes and places, present and future and past, are interconnected and interdependent, are all subjects to be listened to and not objects to be exploited.* I believe that this strain of story within the mono-myth is what all artists who are listening and who are observing will now encounter and reckon with and explore and express. Fear not, artists, this truth is limitless; it is the size of the universe. This encounter with this truth forgotten or obliterated can feel like liberation. It can feel like a return to sanity — even if it is too late to save us on the terrestrial plane. That part of the story remains to be seen.

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