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Douglas Rushkoff-- Present Shock and Presentism: Interview Transcript

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- to video games, which, as a central form of entertainment, have a whole lot less to do with winning than they do with playing. Certainly [in] the social games (like World of Warcraft our any of these multi-player universes), you're playing it as a way of connecting to other people and living out a story rather than getting to the end.

Rob Kall: How does this apply to the American Dream, to Democracy, to activism and the protest movement?

Douglas Rushkoff Well certainly we saw it in Occupy most clearly. On all the extremes you see where this is edging in. So on the one hand, you had the Tea Party movement - which is a present-shocked movement for sure, in that they want what they want now! It's not a patient, long struggle to something. It's, "Well, lets just shrink government. Let's just do this! We're impatient. We just want this now!" The "Terrible Twos" reaction to politics being too slow. And then on Ocuupy's side you get the opposite extreme; which is saying, "Look. None of these narratives -- they're not just slow, but we'll never get there! It's so goal-oriented that it's denying what's happening in the present moment; so we're going to forget about those demands and those over-arching goals, and instead focus on, 'What is our behavior? How can we adopt a new normative behavior that changes the world?'"

Rob Kall: Now, what you're saying in this chapter is that for thousands of years, storytelling was the way that people ordered and structured their way of seeing the world - and that's changed now.

Douglas Rushkoff Well, yeah. I mean, the Bible's actually different. But since, certainly, the ancient Greeks: the Aristotelian Arc that Aristotle discovered (or pointed out) as happening in Greek Tragedy. This idea of, "We follow a character from a begging, through a middle, to an end. We watch someone else make a series of choices that put them into danger, and bring us up the inclined plane of anxiety; and so this character makes the critical choice that saves the day, or changes the world, and then we get to sleep. Then we get that denouement, and conclusion, and sleep. It's this male orgasm-curved shape of narrative that has really driven our culture and our society since then. It's campaigns, it's moon shots, it's team sports; it's "Crisis, Climax, Sleep," which is /

Rob Kall: (interjecting) Talk about team sports! That was a fascinating part of your book. If somebody is into sports, your analysis of how sports are changing is fascinating. Talk a little bit about that. Why is it that individual sports like snowboarding or skateboarding are coming up, while baseball and football are dropping?

Douglas Rushkoff Well, extreme sports are to team sports how video games are to novels. Right? Instead of joining a team, and going on a battlefield, and fighting a polarized enemy (right? which is what football is, right? it's a battlefield simulation), instead of doing that and obeying these rules, kids are - you get your own skateboard or snowboard, and your sport is freestyle, your sport is self-directed. It's not even a spectator sport: it's an individual sport. It's much more open-ended. The early snowboarders actually refused to go the Olympics or make it an Olympic sport, because they didn't want to regiment this freestyle expression in a set of top down rules. They wanted it to be more of a bottom up, human, personal expression.

Rob Kall: Now, can you tie the sports to this change in the narrative pattern?

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