A “story field” is the psycho-social field of influence generated by the coherence and interactions among a culture’s many stories, events, roles, practices, symbols, physical arrangements, artifacts, cuisine, etc. A story field shapes the awareness and behaviors of the individuals and groups within its culture. It can be referred to — and aspects of it described — but it cannot be fully articulated.
To put “story field” in context, compare it to these similar concepts
- A “Big Story” or “cultural narrative” loosely connotes the commonly-held big picture story that most people in a culture use — consciously or unconsciously — to explain their lives and legitimize their assumptions. It is the narrative manifestation of a culture’s worldview.
- A cultural myth can be a Big Story or some aspect of it — i.e., one of its component stories that explains or teaches — especially if it involves archetypal images, characters, or events that embody core truths about life. Myths are often held to be sacred. In this site, the word “myth” does not carry the connotation of being false, as it often does elsewhere.
- A “metanarrative” connotes an articulable big-picture story that often claims to be universally true. Sometimes metanarratives are associated with ideology (“the Marxist metanarrative”) and domination, and are therefore seen as something to be asserted or resisted.
A story field is
a particularly powerful field of influence
generated by a story or,
more often, by a coherent battery
of mutually-reinforcing stories
— myths, news, soap operas, lives, memories, games —
and story elements
— roles, plots, themes, metaphors, goals, images, events, archetypes —
that co-habit and resonate
within our individual and/or collective psyches.
A story field ubiquitously frames what is real, acceptable, and possible, and directly shapes our lives and our world, often without our even being aware of its influence. Changing the story field of a culture changes what is real, acceptable, and possible in that culture.
Ultimately, the aim of this gathering is to further the growing capacity of society to continually and consciously evolve into ever more life-serving story-fields.