Saturday, July 17, 2010
At this past week's TEDGlobal 2010 conference in Oxford, the former diplomat and international relations professor Joseph Nye said that in modern-day diplomacy, "it is the story and the narrative that now wins (conflicts). Great powers have great stories." True enough, but fellow TED presenter Elif Shafak took it up a notch Wednesday, arguing that the power of the personal story trumps all. "The problem with today's cultural ghettos is not lack of knowledge," said Shafak, the best-selling female author in Turkey and the daughter of a diplomat and a philosopher. "We know a lot about each other, or so we think. But knowledge that doesn't take us beyond ourselves makes us distant and disconnected." Fiction, said Shafak, takes us into new territories. "Identity politics divides us, fiction connects," she said. "One is interested in sweeping generalizations; the other, in nuances. One draws boundaries; the other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks; fiction is flowing water."
Here's Shafak's TED talk, released today: