Julie Wheelwright praises Christian Salmon’s Storytelling: Bewitching the Modern Mind in The Independent:
What seems like an ancient and benign desire to tell a simple story has, according to Salmon, been appropriated by post-capitalism to serve its own ends. Advertising has moved on from the Kodak and Bacardi campaigns beloved of Mad Men, he argues, to inventing narratives that make the message digestible, emotional and bleached of reality. The goal of “storytelling marketing” is not just to persuade consumers to buy but to involve them in a story. Consumption has become a way of relating to the world, so that by your purchases shall you be known.
“Storytelling management” has also seeped into daily working life, silencing the corporate employees who, quite literally, don’t buy the narrative. In organisations like the World Bank, Apple, Starbucks, Nokia and Google, traditional communication methods are ditched for the circulation of simple stories freighted with meaning. What’s lost is rational argument and critical analysis. Enron, according to Salmon, is a vivid example of this intellectual deterioration. Its CEOs made the narrative bluff that Washington politicians and Wall Street analysts would be unable to distinguish between fiction and reality.
Storytelling, that lovely exchange of ideas you have with your children at bedtime, has become a means for corporations to police behaviour and teach people to accept the need for change, even against their own interests. There are big issues here about the ability of voters, consumers and readers to question what lies behind the seemingly benign “story”. Unlike Shields’s cut-and-paste job, Salmon draws together his arguments into a coherent and chilling whole.
Read the full article here.