Capitalism runs our society It has its hand in how everything in

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Capitalism runs our society. It has its hand in how everything in our society is created and why everything that we can buy was created. Capitalism has a hand in how big our vegetables are, how, how much we are taxed for the imports of foreign goods, and how much editors will change an author’s story just to make it sell more copies. The influence of capitalism on stories and their purity is not a foreign concept to Benjamin. While most of the information on capitalism affecting stories are concentrated in Part lV of his essay, The Storyteller, there are elements seen throughout the essay.

In Part lV, Benjamin states that the printing press was one of the “most important instruments in fully developed capitalism”, yet it also had a more menacing effect on storytelling than a novel (Benjamin 88). The printing press was created to create printed materials such as newspapers and books more quickly. At first glance, the printing press was a spectacular form of spreading stories to different parts of a region, yet it had a hindering effect on stories, while engrossing humans’ desire and need for information.

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In Benjamin’s opinion, stories must be spoken about and added to, incorporating the experiences of all the storytellers in order to have a fuller impact on the listener. With the printing press, it was an unspoken way of spreading stories, so the wisdom being passed down from storyteller to listener could never gain another perspective and would never resonate in the same way as a spoken story.

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Not only did the printing press hinder stories from being spoken and added upon, but it helped the practice of tainting stories and their messages gain popularity. Since printers could now print books faster, they wanted to get the most money out of it. While the stories may have been written down from “oral tradition” (87), the editors hired by the authors were more focused on making money than expressing wisdom or creating a moral dilemma to challenge the readers.

In modern culture, we have sheltered ourselves against anything that we deem unfortunate. The presence of death in our society would be one of the topics which can be considered ‘taboo’ to talk about. Since death evokes a solemn and sad emotion from the people talking about it, Western culture tends to push it out of our minds and out of our day to day life. When reading the newspaper, one only hears about death if there was a terrible attack, otherwise, natural death, aka the obituaries, are pushed to the back of the newspaper where no one will stumble across them. While our society pushed death out of our thoughts and deems it depressing and unable for us to handle, other societies are not afraid to discuss their opinions about it, and with their opinions come to their stories. Walter Benjamin went against typical European thought when he writes that death is an essential part of any story. He writes, ‘It is, however, characteristic that not only a man’s knowledge or wisdom, but above all his real life – and this is the stuff that stories are made of – first assumes transmissible form at the moment of his death” (94). With the previous quote, Benjamin states that death is needed in order to pass on one’s experiences, knowledge, and wisdom. With these three things, not only can the heirs have a way to remember their loved one, but they can create a story to pass the wisdom on to the following generations. Even if someone was to figuratively die, such as a character in a story, their death would still carry similar, if not the same, wisdom and meaning as the death of an actual person, but our society has shielded us from character deaths too. In the original story of the Little Mermaid, written by Hans Christian Andersen, the Little Mermaid is tasked with killing the Prince after she was unsuccessful in getting him to fall in love with her. Since she doesn’t kill the prince, the little mermaid is turned into a “daughter of the air” and will remain in that form. (Andersen) The little mermaid’s death depicts wisdom of how strong love can be and how, even though something doesn’t go your way, you cannot make other people suffer from it. The wisdom that is portrayed through the little mermaid’s death in the original is lost on the viewers of the Disney movies. Our culture has deemed the original concept of killing another person too distressing to show to younger audiences, so we have made the “Happily Ever After” the norm for Fairy tales in our society. The knowledge that Benjamin describes is lost by ignoring death is lost to the majority of western culture through the redaction of death in media and our daily lives.

Our society has gotten lazy, creating institutions to interperate things for us, which has led to man’s need for information. Benjamin noticed society’s shift towards information and a lack of individual interpretation. He renounced the interpretations of stories and experiences, stating that the only way for someone to fully understand something, it cannot be explained for the reader and the reader has to come up with his own interpretation (Benjamin 89). Without one’s individual interpretation, the wisdom and knowledge of stories are removed, creating a stale tale which is used as a fact in an essay and never mentioned again. The interpretation of the stories allows for people to make up their own minds and to truly become an individual, not grouped up with other people who have integrated ready-made interpretations of news into their values and their personalities. The killing of stories by way of creating ready-made explanations and removing wisdom by making them into sources of information is inescapable in our society. When we learn in school, we are taught the right way to form an interpretation, but there are only a select few that are correct. We are taught to come up with our own ideas about the world but are told that they are wrong by either our teachers or parents. When a child hears politics from his parents, he takes their ideas to be gospel, not questioning them or trying to make up his own mind. Even when the child has grown up, the way they approach politics and look at the world will still be influenced by mainstream media, interpreting and explaining the news so that people don’t have to do it themselves. Even though Benjamin’s view of letting the reader come up with their own idea about the work would be more beneficial in a school setting, it is not how society thinks students should be taught. When writing an essay for a class, students are told to focus on factual information, not letting their personal interpretations or experiences show through their writing. Even in the process of writing an essay, teachers will show their students how to make sure that the information is not opinion-based. While focusing on facts it may be more effective for the teaching standards in modern society, we have completely lost the wisdom and knowledge passed down by stories.

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Capitalism runs our society It has its hand in how everything in. (2019, Dec 01). Retrieved from

Capitalism runs our society It has its hand in how everything in

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