Today I heard about three storytelling genres I had never heard of before: hopepunk, noblebright, and grimdark. Someone in the Deep Adaptation group posted this article from vox.com:
“‘Community is a huge part of hopepunk,’ Rowland told me. ‘We accomplish great things when we form bonds with each other. We’re stronger, we can build higher, and we can take better care of each other.’ … ‘Hopepunk is a radical call to arms for us to imagine better,’ Slack said. ‘To embrace the fact that fantasy is not simply an escape from the world but an invitation to go deeper into it. That we must fall in love with the world that we so deeply wish to change.'”
Hopepunk “sits partly in opposition to the fantasy trope known as ‘noblebright,’ in which social systems are good because the leaders we choose are inherently good. The ‘chosen one’ is chosen because they are mythically wise, noble, and just, and heroes win the day by virtue of being heroes.
‘Hopepunk knows that everything is impermanent and that nothing is promised,’ Rowland said. ‘Noblebright says that we can eventually win the fight and have a happy ending, and hopepunk says that there’s no such thing as winning, and that we have to keep doing the work every single day for the rest of civilization.'”
This is the very mind-set I’ve found myself getting into over the past few months.
When I first got into my “voluntary energy descent” lifestyle, I had hopes of helping to spark a societal shift that would “save the world.” Now, with the world basically in flames, it’s by no means a given that anything we can do will save us from a grim ending, perhaps rather sooner than we had thought.
Where that lands me, is in the present. What I can do in the present moment is remember to feel gratitude; and extend kindness to people and all other beings. The subhead of the article linked above refers to “hanging onto your humanity at all costs.”
Our consumerist-colonialist wealth-hoarder culture has a way of has a way of nudging us to devalue the riches of the immediate present moment. A society of extreme medical technology and 401(k) retirement accounts and fantasy consumerism (“the beautiful house I will have ‘someday’ when I retire; the hobbies I will enjoy ‘when I finally have time.'”) When valued appropriately, when noticed and celebrated, the present moment is fat and delicious and filled with enough … not only enough for me but enough to share.
I must confess, I was not a naturally sharing person as a kid. I was kind of a spoiled brat who wanted everything for herself. Toys, food, other people’s attention. To this day, I sometimes feel anxious about sharing. Will I have “enough”? But I’ve come to the point where I would rather share what I have, and risk not having enough for myself (whatever that even means), than stockpile, and risk reaching the end of my life with excess unshared stuff that could have been shared and helped someone who needed it right then. Every time I nudge myself to share, it works out fine and it feels great.
The ongoing ratcheting-up of deadly natural disasters as part of our daily background noise of life — floods, fires, droughts, pandemic — is starting to poke holes in the idea that we can build any kind of real security for ourselves via stuff, be it houses or money or a seemingly steady job or the notion that any particular place on the planet is “disaster-proof.”
What we can have, always, is our own morals and ethics, and our love for each other and for this world. Connection and community are everything. Sure, we have material needs. No one wants to die of starvation. But I’d rather starve in community than feast alone. (And anyway, being in community reduces the likelihood of starvation.)
I’m looking forward to reading the story genres mentioned in this article. Storytelling is a great vehicle for evolution.
I really love the idea of “falling in love with the world that we wish to change,” as opposed to refusing to love the world until we get it the way we want it.
The opposite of hopepunk is grimdark: “a literary descriptor for genre texts and media which evoke a pervasively gritty, bleak, pessimistic, or nihilistic view of the world. These are the worlds of modern-era Batman, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and so many other contemporary pop culture properties — universes in which cruelty is a given and social systems are destined to betray or disappoint.”
In a real-life reenactment of grimdark, the ultra-rich are buying up land and building lavish survival bunkers for themselves and their kin (newyorker.com).
And climate-change fears are prompting more Americans to join survivalist schools (nbcnews.com).
(My suggestion for survivalist schools: Include in your curricula not just gardening and other “hard” skills, but also “soft” skills such as conflict resolution, nonviolent communication, community-building, sharing skills, tools for processing emotions and avoiding getting stuck in reactivity, and some kind of mindfulness and compassion practice. Those are the real survival skills, and if we cultivate those, we are more likely to be able to produce enough of the food and other material stuff we need.)
On a related note, check out the deep wisdom in this article, “You’re Not Going To Homestead Through Collapse” (Shelly Fagan; medium.com). “People who criticize billionaires for foolishly building underground bunkers believe they can survive the impending doom of climate change by hunkering down on a homestead. Both groups are attempting to escape the realities of collapse. It’s a race that most humans will likely lose. … The solution is not to isolate and attempt to ride it out alone. That will only delay the inevitable. It’s more of the same thought process that led to the unsustainable lifestyle we have now. We are in this predicament because too many believe we don’t need each other — ‘each man is an island’ — and that we can survive this without the cooperation of the rest of humanity.”
I hope you enjoy the vox.com article about hopepunk; it’s a goodie! And treat yourself today to some good stories, whatever genre(s) you prefer.