A Proposed Grand Narrative for the History of Debt

Despite my deliberate focus on individual-level narratives, the urge to apply the narrative structures discussed in Tempo to groups is irresistible to some people. This is interesting, because I personally have been wary of going there. I am not quite satisfied with how the models bootstrap up to group and grand narratives. But I am sort of happy that people are testing the ideas out in domains for which they weren’t really designed. If it works out, I’ll hopefully be able to build out the theory further.

Stefan King liked the Double Freytag as a way to structure the story of Western art. Critt Jarvis seems to believe it can help make sense of the ongoing political story of Honduras.  And now Julio Rodriguez is making a bold attempt to tease out the narrative structure in David Graeber’s book, Debt: the first 5000 years.

Check it out: Towards a Grand Narrative of Civilization.

The title is ambitious, but I think justified. I’ve read an extract from the book, and Graeber makes a convincing case that the story of debt is the story of civilization. So I think Julio is justified in going hunting for the main narrative arc within the book.


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