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Transcript: Arlene Goldbard, author, The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & The Future

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That's a conversation you can have with anybody sitting online with you at the laundromat. People are going to resonate with it because as I said earlier, everyone who can buy their way out of Datastan does. So people who have the means send their children to private school, have somebody that they employ to hang on the telephone and interact with that phone system for them. Insulate themselves in everyway from being treated like that. That the-

R.K.: Well wait, let's get into that a little bit more.

A.G.: Okay.

R.K.: They can buy their way out of Datastan if they have the money and that insulates them from being treated in what way? And what do they get when they buy their way out of Datastan?

A.G.: Well they don't have to live with the social arrangements that they have created and promulgated for the rest of us. Their family doesn't have to use the public health system. Their kids don't have to go to sub-standard schools if they happen to live in that neighborhood. They don't have to live in public housing. They don't have to wait in line at the unemployment office.

They don't have to spend hours hanging on the phone trying to get a mistake on their bill corrected and interacting with the mechanized phone system. They are able to go into the school and talk about their children's special needs and get someone who is able to respond rather than saying we have a system we can't make an exception for you, it has to be the same for everybody. And on and on and on. They buy out of all the ways that our dominant systems reduce us to something less than we really are.

R.K.: Okay. Station break. This is the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly. Sponsored by If you hop in to the middle of this conversation and you want to hear the beginning of it, go to iTunes and look for my name, Rob Kall K-AL-L or go to, with an s. Where you'll also find hundreds of other interviews as well.

I'm talking to Arlene Goldbard. She's the author of Culture of Possibility; Art, Artists, and the Future and we've been talking about the difference between Datastan, the old model that treats us all like cogs in a machine and the new paradigm, the Republic of Stories. Now, you say in your book Datastan's logic rationalize corporations entitlement to export jobs to low wage labor markets and validated the anti-public sector rhetoric that shifted public spending from peaceful social goods like education and health to war, imprisonment and corporate subsidy.

With far fewer human beings employed as social connective tissue, we adjusted to the logic of automating human interaction. What else could we do? What do you mean by social connective tissue?

A.G.: Well for example, let me give you an example that's developed very fully in my other book that was companion volume to this one, The Wave. One of my characters is a member of the Storytelling Corps at Bellevue Hospital in New York, twenty years in the future. So when you have to go to the hospital, instead of having the kind of horrific intake experience that many of us have despite the goodwill of individuals who work there where we're made to wait for a long time, there's someone with a clip board who treats us like a number, we're in distress but there's nothing there to assist with our distress. In this new model, Lulu and her fellow members of the Storytelling Corps are the intake system at Bellevue Hospital. When you come in, a Story-

Teller sits with you. That person elicits a story of your illness from the perspective of the understanding of healing as a process in which your history, the resilient factors in your past, all of those things are going to help you along with your healing.

The person is going to listen to how you feel and be present to how you feel and some times prescribe something. A particular story. They're going to listen to the lullabies that were sung to you when you were a child and make sure you have an iPod to look up music on it. They're going to make a piece of art with you that you can hang in your hospital room and will help remind you of what it is in your history that makes it likely that you'll get well. So that's a really developed example of connective tissue but what I mean-

R.K.: I have to tell you that listening to you describe that, I've got tears in my eyes. I mean literally you just ripped right through me, because what you're describing is a system where the idea of giving a diagnosis, a number and pathologizing whatever is going on with a person is mostly gone, and it's replaced with such a different totally different fabric of handling and embracing and enveloping a human being. In all the dimensions, wow. I love it. I just, wow!

A.G.: Thank you, Rob, I'm so glad you do. And that's an example I think to sit down and say to someone, what if a hospital was like this and then in their own minds they're comparing it to the actual reality, the present time reality that they've experienced. That gives you a big glimpse of what we mean by paradigm shift, huh?

R.K.: Yes, it sure does. It's, you know, it's so different and there is so much money invested in and continually funding the old Datastan model, your Datastan way that you describe as Datastan which is the industrial complex way. How do you see it changing?

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