What is the Gaia PhD in 'storytelling science'?

David M. Bøje, Ph.D.
May 20 2019; Revised June 14 2019
  • Co-Director with Kenneth Mølberg Jørgensen, Storytelling and Sustainability Lab, European Group of Governing
  • Professoßr Aalborg University, and godfather to their Storytelling Lab
  • Adjunct Cabrini University, Philadelphia, doing storytelling science training with Grace Ann Rosile
  • Co-cnovenor with Grace Ann Rosile of The Quantum Storytelling Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Shamanic Practitionerand Storytelling researcher
What is the Gaia Ph.D.

We all need Maria Batalla's 'Attachment Therapy' in order to cope with chaos and disorganization of climate change and the performative work cultures we are now enduring.  Maria has a practice at the Urban City in Aalborg Denmark. Hjulmagervej 58, 9000 Aalborg For enden af Hjulmagervej – i hjertet af Aalborg I am told the Moldy Fox hangs out there too. You can reach her at MariaBatalla@outlook.dk. Maria applies John Bowlby's attachment theory to family therapy and to coping with Gaia changes.
The Moldy Fox of Aalborg's Urban City

I did an 'attachment' session with Maria and it was life changing. It is a way to form secure attachment during the insecure situations of changes in work and Nature we are all experiencing. You can learn more about Attachment Theory at this website. Watch the YouTube video  by Dan Siegel M.D. on the relation of Attachment Theory to the Planet. He gives a brief overview of the 4 S's (Seen, Soothe, Safe, & Secure) and how these ways of the caregiver relate to our having three kinds of Attachment (Avoidance, Ambivalent, & Disorganized) that can explain why people avoid climate change, are ambivalent about 6th Extinction, and are disorganized in becoming a steward of the Planet. And his video gives us a way to understand the neurophysiology and biology of the 'inner storyteller' how our cortex has 300 million years of evolutionary programming to recognize immediate signs of threat. That cortex sends neurotransmitter signals to the limbic system of the brain to activate adrenaline hormone, and this sets off the reactive responses in the brain stem for our body to go into one of the four F's (fight, flight, freeze, or faint).  This works in animal brains too. I once put the wrong horse blanket on a mare. She sniffed, caught the scent of a stallion that was not there. Her limbic system shot adrenaline everywhere, and here brain stem signaled the faint response. In a nanosecond of smelling the wrong blanket on her, she leaped, flipped upside down, and landed on her back with all four legs pointed in the air, completely fainted. The problem for storytelling, is climate change, the degradation of fresh water by pollution, etc. are not things we can see the immediate threat by our cortex, and so it is too easy to flip into denial, ambivalence, and sit back and expect the status quo to deal with something far off, like 6th extinction, and shifts in Anthropocene weather patters of drought and flooding. 

    I want to use Attachment Theory in a rather radical way, by showing you how 'doomsday' (6th Extinction, Apocalyptic) storytelling is related to particular hormone and neuropathways associated with particular kinds of attachment during times of change, uncertainty, and restructuring of our workplaces, and the Anthropocene we now live in. And how to work on a different kind of storytelling, not from the 'dark side of communication' that can activate different audience response. We need to work on Human-Gaia attachment styles of care, love and stewardship, because the majority of  people have Avoidant, Ambivalent, and Disorganized Attachment and outright denial of climate change at a time when we need to work together in societies to bring about positive climate action of care and stewardship.

    We all know that the current path humanity is on is not sustainable. Our safe haven planet is no longer secure attachment. Dark Ecologists tell us to do 'dark side storytelling', and get beyond our romantic attachment because the planet was never secure, and that there was no equilibrium system, the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts, and it is just another Romantic Petrified Narrative if we cling to spiritual Gaia, to treating our planet as a living entity, in the face of the Anthropocene that demands critical reflexivity on our blame, all the human consumer and production activity since the Industrial Revolution that has brought us into this dire and dangerous situation.

    I would like to suggest that we look more precisely at 'storytelling science' (Boje & Rosile, 2019) and how the brain reacts to a seen threat that is immediate and one that is unseen, invisible, that sneak up on you, and its too late to respond. More than that, how we can use storytelling to develop our awareness of presence. (Siegel, 2018). To have 'presence' in our storytelling  means using it to develop the audience's open awareness,  'receptive awareness', or call it 'mindful awareness' of the state of the planet. We have a dozen years to make a turn to preparing in advance a new pathway to a different future than the one our world's institutions are on. I wrote about this in a book about 6th extinction storytelling (Boje, 2019b) and another on the fresh water situation (Boje, 2019a). The United Nations predicts that by 2050 five billion people will be in severe water shortage, up from 3.6 billion people in water shortage today (see article in Guardian, 2018).  You would think that with UNICEF storytelling, 6,000 children dying every single day of water-borne preventable disease, humanity would recognize the threat and leap into immediate action, but the storytelling is all wrong for that to happen. Doomsday storytelling tuns people off. The temporal horizon is too far off from their neurobioogy to do anything but shrug, or give a 'feel good' donation to UNICEF. The kind of radical change the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals calls for, is far from adequate to the task of getting the water and climate practices of the world's institutions to do much more than put up 'feel good' metrics of progress, and end up when 2050 rolls around, being 'too little, too late' to make a difference to 6th extinction. And its not how attachment theory is tied to storytelling.  We have known, for example, since 2012 that billionaires, politicians, banks, and Wall Street speculators have been buying up fresh water rights around the world:

"Familiar mega-banks and investing powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, the Blackstone Group, Allianz, and HSBC Bank, among others, are consolidating their control over water. Wealthy tycoons such as T. Boone Pickens, former President George H.W. Bush and his family, Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, Philippines’ Manuel V. Pangilinan and other Filipino billionaires, and others are also buying thousands of acres of land with aquifers, lakes, water rights, water utilities, and shares in water engineering and technology companies all over the world" (Global Research, 2012)

 The doomsday predictions are 'water wars', international upstream and downstream, cross-border 'water conflicts' and not near the kind of love, peace, cooperation, and stewardship care to change water capitalism so every human being, and all the species of the world have water equality, water democracy, water justice (Shiva, 2002; Barlow & Clarke, 2017). Fresh water is being actively commodified and privatized, so it will be accumulated by those with the wherewithal to afford it.

The world is in imbalance. Our planet is in a bad condition, the climate is changing, biodiversity is dwindling, the atmosphere is getting warmer and the consistency of the oceans is changing, making them sour. We humans believe to being able to dominate nature, which might be a great delusion. As I like to say: I am you and you are me and we are the world. We are nature" (Princess Gaia, Jun 12 2019).

    What can storytelling do about the path that humanity is on and how to change that path to one of stewardship, care and love for the planet? We can show the 'hidden miracles of the natural world' (Louie Schwartzberg YouTube). We can show Bill Nye's YouTube, The Planet is on F_cking Fire. It's entertaining,  or 16 year old, Greta Thunberg's 2019 YouTube 'Our House is on Fire,' storytelling to World Economic Forum. In 2018, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned, we have less than 12 years to correct our mistakes, and stay within the 1.5C temperature rise (Guardian article).  This is a critical tipping point, according to a paper published in Nature Geoscience.

"If atmospheric CO2 levels exceed 1,200 parts per million (ppm), it could push the Earth’s climate over a 'tipping point', finds a new study. This would see clouds that shade large part of the oceans start to break up" (Carbon Brief article).

     Of course the problem for storytelling is that people are swayed by emotion, not by reciting facts and figures. People live in a mostly fictive storytelling world, honed by 300,000 years of evolution, in which visible, immediate threats get attention for survival instinct. Most business students and would-be CEOs believe in the Horatio Alger myth, that by being selfish, me-first bullies who single handed exploit as many earth resources as possible will become 1%ers with more toys than anyone else, with the wealth and freedom to use the rest of the planet is a place to throw away the trash. At the same time the is a rising sense of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness about anything happening to change the path of global warming and climate change (Meyer, Jan 23, 2019 article in The Atlantic), but Americans are just not willing to pay any money to deal with the crisis. Political parties in the US are deadlocked, unable to do anything but reinvest in the status quo.

It is time for a new storytelling path to a future for all

    John Bowlby, the founder of Attachment Theory, drew upon ethology, cybernetics, information processing, and developmental psychology to go against Freudian psychoanalysis and its dependency attachment notions. He worked for a while with Melanie Klein, and here 'Grounding' in object-relation theory, but quickly disagreed with the fantasy drive explanation of Freudian psychoanalysis. There is a relational ontology lesson in Attachment Theory. People do grow up in actual families and have real family experiences, that are constitutive of family narratives and living stories.  Bowlby became a member of the Tavistock Institute, and is a role model for doing interdisciplinary work. Mary Aimsworth became one of the colleagues. She did naturalistic observation field studies and had a pension for narrative interpretation. She was a disciplined scientist and made sure to sample experiences in different places and times. 

    You see, I hope, that the attachments Human-Gaia are more than just ego-superego, and have everything to do with how we in families are part of society, its cultures, and its social-technology and economic-dominated-science networks, and how in Ethology, there is an imprinting tied to the planet, its ways of signaling which capitalist behaviors are worth continuing and which ones lack any kind of Terrestrial Ethics (we will get to that). Bowlby, Aimsworth, Siegel, and scores of their colleagues moved away from Freudian Dependency theory and developed Attachment Theory, including how ethological concepts of sign stimuli, social relations, economic circumstances, and our attachments are changing so very quickly.

    Let me take Attachment Theory a step further in this essay, by making connections to 'storytelling science.' In this essay, I will explore how our kinds of attachments in our ways of storytelling are related to particular hormone and neuropathway activations.  For example storytelling about empathy, trust, bonding, and generosity raises Oxytocin (the love hormone) has powerful hormone effects. By telling stories anticipating how to handle upcoming reorganization or climate changes, how to build trust, how human bonding and Nature bonding can be established in the face of adversity, and how generosity among humans learning to listen, to tune into Nature can affect here-and-now stress levels, is a positive use of storytelling during a time of major upheaval, uncertainty about the future, and is all about learning and using the power of storytelling. By using another kind of storytelling,  Dopamine different hormone effects: focus, motivation and memory. In anticipating each episode as a set of cliff hangers, an adventure storytelling takes over the audience brain/body chemistry.
  What appears to be happening is during times of stress, errant managers are brewing a 'Devil's Cocktail' of Cortisol and Adrenalin, by doing modes of storytelling that suddenly and abruptly, often without participation, announce major organizational changes, such as restructuring, relocations, movements of personnel, changes in work routines, budget deficits, reengineering processes that have been longstanding sources of success, and so on. This raises Cortisol and Adrenalin hormone levels and associated neuropathways of flight/flight, fear/anxiety, and the effects can be intolerance of change, irritability towards leaders and managers implementing such changes, uncreative meetings, critical reactions, impaired memory (dwelling on all prior failures of such changes), and making bad decisions in the face of uncertainty about the future.

    This kind of new 'storytelling science' of how our storytelling modalities affects audience hormone levels, and affects organizational attachments  to avoidance, insecurity, disorganization, ambivalence, and separation distress is the new cutting edge of how sociomateriality and neurological chemistry are entangled in situations of organizational change and restructuring.

    We turn now, to another frontier. How does Attachment Theory and neurological physiology relate to Gaia-Storytelling, to our attachments to the natural world?

We are engaged in Gaia-Attachment relations that needs lots of psychoanalytic work:

1.  Avoidance: Most people are in avoidance about their complicity, the complicity of human activities in what is happening to capitalism behaving within planetary limits. Denial is where most people are at. They do have an embodied sense that their future is no longer secure, that life for their grandchildren will have less and less Terrestrial support. Repression, even lashing out against proposals to rein in the multinational corporate excess, is part of avoidance. There is grief and mourning of the situation, as people seek some substitute in so many superficial relationships, because the security of Gaia appears so unavailable. Some are what Parker, another Bowlby colleagues called 'numbness., and Elizabeth Kubler-Ross called 'denial.' We can go from Denial to Anger, then Bargaining, Depression, but how are we to have Acceptance of some many species, already gone. We need to awaken from Avoidance, to a new identity, not just accept the situation, as it spirals ever-downward, out of control.

2. Ambivalent Lots of Insecurity about the futures that are arriving. We have ambivalent attachment to Gaia. We know the catastrophe is coming, yet do nothing substantive about it. We are upset and sorrowful as limits to natural resources are being exceeded. We feign a bit of recycling, or do some composting, but know it is not going to be enough to avert the extinction events coming our way. We keep hoping that the care and love of Gaia will return. As the CO2 rises again and again, the fresh water becomes scarcer in commodification, and the polluting industries and the casino capitalism speculation markets continues to suck up all the money that could be for productive intervention, we feel ambivalent in our attachment to Gaia. People are showing Ambivalence to Mother's Earth's exhaustion. Slavoj Žižek tells of us two types of Disavowal (Verleugnung), often translated as denial (see YouTube):

Type One Disavowal: If we accept our guilt and complicity in the arriving catastrophe of global warming, the scarcity of fresh water, the drowning from more and more plastic garbage, and so on, then we can also rationalize that we have capacity as human agents to intervene, save the day, by changing our daily life practices. We don't have to be an impotent bystander, what Mikhail Bakhtin (1993: 3) calls the 'special answerability' observer of life who does not intervene. In Trumpland, citizens are rejecting the reality of their sensemaking because the stakes are so high, and to even think about the climate warming is a very traumatic association. Rather that disavowal of the trauma, we can become embodied, engaged in 'moral answerability' (1993: 3) taking the emotive ethical act, to be that one person in the eventness of Being that can intervene in the moving once-occurrent situation, and not helplessly being the victim of our own stupid practices, or too frozen in fear and anxiety to act. Here our ambivalence comes from not knowing what to do to change, and the sheer horror trauma of contemplating the sixth extinction (Boje, 2019a) because 'There is No Planet B.' That climate train coming our way at 100 mph through the tunnel. The light at the end of the tunnel is that oncoming train, too fast for us to jump out of the way.

Type Two Disavowal: We become neurotic, obsessing on futile activities, token recycling practices, sorting plastic drink bottles yet knowing most go to land fill or blow around until they float into the ocean to join the spiral motion of five ocean gyres. Or, we buy Starbucks coffee, because it claims to be from responsible coffee bean plantations. We cut back on our meat consumption, to once or twice a week, or even become vegan. We join a zero waste coop, and shop for bulk food with mason jars in hand. This is fetishness-disavowal, rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks, keeping ourselves too busy to think about it. I know that global warming is already here, and why don't I do anything about it? Because, I must not really believe it, so let's do what Exxon does and the Koch brothers and hire junk science professors to write articles about the 'climate debate.' In Trumpland, climate warming is just another debate, and I reassure my conscience by becoming chair of the sustainability council, monthly meetings, as we notice there are few bins to recycle on our campus, and most students just pitch their aluminum cans and plastic beverage bottles into the abundantly convenient trash bins. 


3. Separation Anxiety: What is Gaia doing? Is Gaia reacting to human activities, since the Industrial Revolution? As eight multi-billionaires have already amassed more than half of all the wealth of the planet, are are the major polluters (Boje, 2019a), their attachment has some 'separation anxiety' when the majority of us want equality, and some of us, to find ways to achieve zero-growth, even degrowth, to find a new attachment, with a lot less angst, an attachment that is secure within planetary limits. We have separation anxiety about how to consume less, how to get to work without a car, and how to get to an overseas conference without the plane ride. We have so much stuff that downsizing to a 1970s size home, or to a tiny home, seems impossible.

4. Disorganized: Despite all the predictions that the United Nations, or World Trade Organization, or the World Bank, or the International Monetary Fund would tame the multinational corporation, and its control over politics, and so on, we seem quite disorganized. Our attachments to Gaia are so very insecure, not at all sustainable, despite all the narratives of its organizational accomplishment.  We need to organize a more secure attachment Human-Gaia, and stop the speciesism, and accept our role in posthumanism. If Gaia is actually disorganized, and not at all, a designer creation, then we have to rethink Gaia, more as chaos, more as one catastrophe after another.

What Can We Do With  Storytelling in relation to Attachment Theory and Neurological Brain Chemistry?

    It can work this way. Suppose we take Nature's aliveness seriously? The Gaia Ph.D. meets in spiritually powerful places. For example, a trip of a cohort of Ph.D. students and professors to the Brazil rain forest, to visit local shamans, and get first hand experience with Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK) can help bring new attachments, change hormone and neuropathways in ways that bring about new Human-Gaia relations, and different ways of Being-in-the-world. I am both a 'storytelling scientist' and a 'shamanic practitioner.' The two disciplines do not have to be incommensurate. I can be scientifically studying the results of shamanic work. For example, I can attempt to refute the results of my own and others' shamanic drumming, shamanic meditation, shamanic experiences in rain forests or the desert of New Mexico, and elsewhere. We can try to refute the hypothesis that Being in Nature, helps to restore hormone imbalances, calms the neurological pathways, frees up troubled minds for creative perspective. Does Being-in-Nature reduce fear, anxiety, and stress we feel at our uncertain and ever-changing workplace? It is a testable question. How does Being-in-Nature affect our physical well being? Does it reduce or increase our blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and our stress hormones? Cortisol is the primary stress steroid hormone. Cortisol increases glucose (sugars) in the bloodstream, enhances brain's use of glucose, and on the plus side increases available substances to repair tissues. Cortisol is produces in the adrenal cortex within zona fasciculata of the adrenal gland. Storytelling about Nature or just Being-in-Nature, both have been found to affect Cortisol levels.

    Adrenaline is the fight or flight hormone, and is produced by storytelling as well as by a stressful situation. Adrenaline storytelling can change how we fell stressed about change and uncertainty. It is the same feeling as suddenly seeing a care racing 100mph in your blind spot, while driving on the freeway. Your muscles tens, your breathing gets faster, your heart pounds faster, you get a surge of energy, and you start to sweat.  You enter fight or flight mode, focus your attention and awareness.

    I was riding my Harley Davidson on the 405 Freeway, headed north, doing about 90MPH, as were all the other cars and trucks behind and ahead of me. There four north bound lanes. I suddenly saw a yellow five gallon bucket bouncing around in the back of a pickup truck, and a young girl in the passenger seat, pointing at the bucket and looking directly at me. I wanted to slam on the brakes, but traffic had closed in behind me. There was a truck on my right, and more cars with no distance between them to squeeze the Harley into, on my left. Time stood still, and I could see every expression on the face of every driver and passenger, all around me. My heart pounded, my breathing was faster and faster, and I decided to 'fight.' I gunned the motor, and the Harley leaped forward at even higher speed, just as the yellow bucket leaped out of the pickup truck, and bounced toward me. As I swerved left, the bucket moved left, and as I swerved to the right, the bucket matched my move.  The bucket was upon me, about to be trapped under the bike, and topple me and bike over, to slide along the pavement.  Time kept slowing down. I could see the bucket rolling about, and with my right hand on the throttle, I stabbed at the bucket with my left hand, and grabbed the handle, and thrust the bucket up in the air over my head. People we cheering and waving from their vehicles. I carried that yellow bucket home and kept it as a trophy of my adventure on the 405. I also vowed to slow down. 

This is an adrenaline storytelling example. Norepinephrine is another hormone released from the adrenal gland. Its primary role, like adrenaline, is arousal when stressed, to become quite aware, awake, focused,, as the shift in blood flow is away from skin and other non-essential body areas, and into the muscles, so one can flee the scene. Obviously, in the Yellow Bucket storytelling, my norepinephrine hormone was not responsive. I was not able to flee from catastrophe, so I chose fight.

By contrast, Cortisol, activates in minutes, in the face of stress this hormone activates to other hormones, (1) Amygdala of the brain recognizes a thormone (Dreat, sends a message to (2) the hypothalamus which releases Corticotropin hormone (CRH), that tells the pituitary gland to release Adrenocorticoctropic hormone (ACTH) that tells the adrenal glands to make more Cortisol. This Cortisol can be life saving, by maintaining fluid balance and blood pressure, while relaxing body functions not immediately critical to survival (reproductive drive, immunity, digestion, growth). However, the bad news, is in a long term stress situation at home, work, national emergency, Nature's climate change, too much Cortisol suppresses the immune system, increases blood pressure, increases sugar, decreases libido, produces acne, and contributes to obesity.

There are other hormones. We all know that when workplaces and families are under stress, the estrogen and testosterone hormones affect how we react. These two neurotransmitters need dopamine to lower the fight-or-flight reaction. 

How can we shake it off and move on with our lives? How can we control our reaction to change and stress?

In a situation of long-term stress at work or in our ecology, it can take anywhere from half an hour to several days to return our well being to a restful state. If situations do not subside, then our long term well being is in jeopardy.  We protect our self by adopting attachment styles of denial, avoidance, and disorganization. This has hidden consequence, since we are not developing secure attachments, being able to care for self and others, and to engage in creative problem solving.

Boje's August 2019 Keynote for the 'Dark Side of Communication' conference in Aalborg, Denmark

Title: The Dark Side of Water Storytelling

    It's the end time and it's all over.
It's 2050 and all the United Nations predictions of the great water shortages have come true. Six billion of the 11.2 billion people are in severe water shortage.

    We will create two movies of the future. In the first 2050 Future movie, I will use dark side storytelling of teh fresh water cycle that activates your adrenaline fight-fight hormone response. In the second 2050 flight movie, I will activate your pineal gland with the love hormone. My purpose is to put you in command of your hormone activation through storytelling. It is all too easy to surrender to the dark side of communication, and create a fight/ fight vigilance for all the ways that the UN prediction of five billion people by 2050 dying in severe fresh water shortages (Guardian article by Jonathan Watts 2018), as a few multi-billionaire 'water baronds' hoard all the water rights (Global Research article by Joe Shing-Yang, 2012). Let's look at the first movie, created aout of fear emotion, and then at one that is created out of what I will call 'Gaia-Care' that activates the Love Hormone, Oxytocin, using 'quantum storytelling', how 2050 overcame the potential disaster of global water cycle privatization, commodification by Nestle, Coke, and Pepsi, and pollution by Big Pharm, Big Ag fertilizers and pesticides, the C8/GenX DuPont Teflon contamination of the water supply, and Big plastic nanoparticle pollutants of the global water system. How did they do this?


    A few multi-billionaires, mega-banks, and their mega water corporations bought up every water right on planet Earth.

"Familiar mega-banks and investing powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, the Blackstone Group, Allianz, and HSBC Bank, among others, are consolidating their control over water. Wealthy tycoons such as T. Boone Pickens, former President George H.W. Bush and his family, Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, Philippines’ Manuel V. Pangilinan and other Filipino billionaires, and others are also buying thousands of acres of land with aquifers, lakes, water rights, water utilities, and shares in water engineering and technology companies all over the world" (Joe Shing-Yang, 2012).

It's the end time, and the end game is brutal and nasty. I am writing the history of the future. Nietzsche would be proud. Remember the Day Zero that scared the bejesus out of South African billionaires. Rich folks heard about the possible water shortage and sunk 3,000 illegal wells on their properties.  When the real Day Zero hit in 2025, the municipality lost control of water rationing, and rich people suck 10,000 more private wells, deep ones, so no short straws could reach. Even if you could go deep, you need those expensive diesel pumps and the fuel to run them.
    Grace Ann and I made to 2050 but its not looking good. A grey battleship just came into the Tilos Island harbor. Some Greek billionaire took over the monastery on top of the volcanic mountain. Don't worry its inactive. His name is Horacio and he's got a harem up there, mastiff guard dogs that will chew off your leg if you get too near his blue gold cache.  Still everyday a desperate refugee family sends their eldest male to steal past the dogs. Impossible. You'd think the pile of severed legs and arms, chewed off, would dissuade another attempt. Wrong! They say on the third day your organs never recover, even if you hydrate with fresh water. But that is not the whole story. You learn to stay in a limbo state, a thimble of pee water every few hours, and just enough to relieve some mouth dryness, but the dizziness persists, and the hallucinations are more real than reality itself.
    Just today, I dreamed I found a secret, forgotten passage way, a tunnel beneath the monastery, safe from the hounds.  The penalty for harvesting rainwater is death. Still there are those who try. I tried it last month. I helped Jens get a rowboat up from the deep. It floated, but you had to keep bailing. We circled the point and the wind took us out to sea. Had to ditch it and paddle ashore. We set up ponchos in the sun, and got a pint of precious atmospheric vapor moisture.  Took most all day, and we had to dismantle three times, lest the spies catch us, turn us in for reward, and the hounds tear us imb from limb. We made it back paddling along, keeping the pint of dew out of sight. The guards, asked, 'you been poaching dew again?' You've been alive way too long. 'Just pee water, is all. We get it processed on the black market.' 'Good ole Dinosaur pee, its what everybody drinks anyway!.'

The mastiff dog is sniffing at Grace Ann's pant leg. Does he smell the dew? Surely not, or we'd be a bloody mess by now.

I lapse back into my daydream. I am tunneling beneath the last known natural spring on the island, and not that many left on the entire planet.  9.8 billion people in 2050 are searching for fresh water. Don't they get it? There was enough for 7 billion, in 2025 if everyone shared, but for 10.8 billion when eight billionaires are in control of most every fresh water source, all guarded. If I sell a pint of harvested dew water, I get executed on the spot, down limb from limb. But a multibillionaire has ten water corporations, each legally sanctioned by the WTO to sell water at the speculator's asking price. No regulation, except against the folks without water. Let them drink their pee water. I don't want to rant, it's a kind of an addiction to the dark side of storytelling.  The fight/flight adrenaline hormones kick in. What are you gonna do? Its the limbic part of the brain. Its better to day dream a love fictio, even a fabula of romantic love is a much better hormone. The limbic is connected to the brain stem, the hippocampus is such a rush, so fasticulus! Best to cultivate hormoes from the light side, that dark side is so dangerous a trip.

    My shamanic training is quite helpful in 2050. Shamans know hos to do stoytelling to to exorcise the dark side demons.  We excel at foretelling, at helping people restory their trauma about thirst, and it helps a community to have hope instead of dwelling on the dark side of communication. I've learned enough hydrology to test my shamanic dreams, my drumming raises the love hormone, Oxytocin. Just enough fictio with a bit of fabula, and that v-shaped storytelling formula does the magic work.  Shamans are show performers, the original storytellers before the politicians and the CEOs learned the trick. You have to be careful, rant too much, and the audience drops right into fight/flight hormone spikes. But, meditate on animal helping spirits that have coll fresh spring water, and that can create its own panic. People start looking for someone to sacrifice to appease the fresh water elemental spirits.
I'm falling again. I can't get up. Where is Grace Ann. Only she would care enough to kick me awake. There are fallen bodies, twitching all around them. My mouth is too dry to tell the story. I lapse into a comma. Some people believe in Gaia, others do not. Really, the truth is we as a human race stopped believing centuries ago, long before the industrial revolution.

    My friend Ernest Ramey died two days ago (June 6 2019). I just got the news yesterday. Shocker. What to do with his two big dogs, each 125 pounds, and unruly as Ernest. We put on about six plays about homeless veterans (https://veteranstheater.com). I got an email that someone, name unknown, has interest in adopting the dogs, or in if not, you know what a pound, the shelter, does to big unruly dogs. Ernest was an Army veteran, Vietnam War, just like me. He had been a welder after the Army, earning $24 dollars an hour, and now you get $8 and he's way too smart to work for chump change. I got this note from Chaplain Lawrence of the American Legion Post 10 in Las Cruces:


                                  BLESS YOU DAVID,  --- CHAPLAIN LAWRENCE.

I camped in a tent to see what it was like in the dead of winter to live that way. The dew froze my sleeping bag. Now in 2050, I wish I had that dew. I'd scrape it gently into a glass bottle, and live another day. I taught Ernest how to restory, and he completed two seminars in Core Shamanism. In return, he taught me about remote control helicopters. I am not much good at it. My Adrenalin takes over and I over steer, and the darn things goes out of sight. These days I sleep rough all the time, without a tent or a sleeping bag. Grace Ann and I still in love. We almost, along with James, and Chaplain Lawrence had the university and the city convinced homeless veterans and homeless students needed a Tiny Home village. Sleeping in tents is OK, but when it gets 18 degrees in winter or 135 degrees in summer, its intolerable. Those romantic hormones are necessary to get through tent life, Oxytocin, is such a rush!. Who'd thought we be living long enough to be century old. I could sure use Ernest and Chaplain Lawrence, about now.Lawrence was a tunnel rat in Vietnam, and Ernest is good with big dogs.I can hear the barking and that light at the end of the tunnel, is not a good omen.  Let the dogs gnaw on our old bones.


    I am on Tilos Island. It's June 9 2019. I found out volunteers are going to the smaller beaches to clean up the plastic pollution.  I volunteer to go with Andreas to help. Plastic pollution, the breakdown of plastic into nanoparticles circulates in the water cycle, contaminates the food chain. I meditate on the beach that is clear of plastic, and contemplate how 2050 has solved the fresh water crisis.  There are things happening here-and-now that are solutions to nurture leading to sustainable future fresh water supply for all species, not just humans, and certainly not just the  richest humans. I have learned to activate te love hormone, Oxytocin, so it stimulates the pineal gland, the size of a grain of rice in the limbic part of my brain. I can choose to live by stress, and become hyper vigilant to the dangers all around me. Or, I can activate the living by love, serenity, and coming up with creative solutions to the fresh water crisis in 2019, so by 2050 its not a problem anymore. That would mean humanity has changed its values, and its daily habits of how water is treated.  I am a shamanic practitioner, and I meditate by drumming to activate the theta waves in my brain. The theta waves, carry along the gamma waves, and get me out of my alpha wave state of fight or flight response. I know from quantum storytelling I am inseparably entangled mattering with storytelling, and I can make a conscious intention to be part of the solution.
    Last year, in Scotland, giving a doctoral seminar, the night before it, I am trying to sleep. But, the Scottish love their whiskey, and the clubs are on the first floor, and I am above all that bravado. I keep waking up, into an alpha sleep of half awake, and half dreaming. I decide to play my drumming music, and I am seeing the fractal patterns, very ancient ones, and they are staying with me, for much longer than every before in my life. I have learned to just surrender, to enjoy the patterns, and not get all analytic about it, and let my monkey mind relax. Since I am tired, it is easier than usual. Each time the drunken chaos awakens me, I go back into shamanic meditation,and the images stay longer. My only intention then, was to see what I can see of them, and be what I can be, from the experience. Now, today, I am more focused, and I want to see into the future, and trace back how in 2050 the fresh water cycle is absolutely sustainable, and none would dare to take ownership of aquifers, rivers, lakes, and streams. None would prohibit rainwater harvesting.

    I don't live my living story life as a linear plot. I am not a three dimensional being. I live a dynamic antenarrative that is not only nonlinear, I am on spiral-fractal, one that soaring higher and higher with each whorl. People who have never studied spiral fractals just shake their head when I try to explain it.  The man is shouting interrupts my meditation: "Very sweet melons from Tilos!" He is a farmer, and comes to get the tourists to buy direct. I hear the crashing waves, and the farmer moves on: 
"Very sweet melons from Tilos!"  I have tried them, and he is right. I go back to creating my bond with the morphic field of Gaia, tuning into her higher frequencies. I seek the coherent theta waves of the drumming, 220 beats per minute will do it for me. My intention: To make a contribution to 2050-Gaia-Water-Care.   I am doing antenarrative processes, making a 'bet on the future' by foretelling a movie script. I can see myself in the theater in 2050, viewing the movie, and celebrating with joy and gratitude all the solutions that came into being to make for fresh water cycles revered by humankind. I am having an experience of my future self in 2050, while sitting in the shade of an umbrella on the Tilos beach in 2019. Gaia-Care starts to unfold, and play out on the movie screen.

     I have the keynote on 'dark side of water storytelling' to give in Aalborg in August, 2919. I see myself on the stage, after the audience quiets, I tell the apocalyptic storytelling and activate their Adrenalin hormone, the fight-fight is easy to stampede.  Then I switch to the love hormone, movie script of how in 2050 the fresh water cycle was so very cared for, and humanity had a great relationship with Gaia.  Its basic neurosciences meets quantum storytelling (see Mysticism to activate your pineal gland - Joe Dispenza interview with Lilou Mace or Law of attraction - the quantum way Joe Dispenza interview with Lilou Mace, Getting the Wake up call - Joe Dispenza interview with Lilou Mace). As Dispenza puts it "You cannot go to a new future, holding on to the emotions of the past."  I have not done a Dispenza Placebo seminar, but did do a dozen core shamanism seminars, and several quantum 'Matrix energetics seminars with Richard Bartlett. There are many paths to 2050 fresh water cycle integrity.  To me, its about doing restorying, to let lose of the emotional traumas of the past, and by embodiment create a new future, a new living story.  You have to detach from the past self, and restory the little wow moments into a new future, one that in quantum storytelling is already present, and we can begin noticing it here-and-now. Gaia-care is a future arriving, already present, and when I pay attention to that new story, detach from my fear and anxiety, then it gets easier to manifest. Yes, we are storytelling animals, and that means we are prone to fight-flight hormone reactions. We respond to stress with vigilance for our own survival. 
    My colleague Russell Taylor sent me a YouTube link today June 9 2019). He looks at fresh water ecology communities. The planet is an ecosystem that we humans live in.

An Example of Inadequacy of the 'Circular Economy':

We can also test the popular sustainability storytelling quite fashionable in 2019, for its greenwashing  attachments. It failed to produce anything about fresh water. It was patently obvious by 2025, it was our attachment to a dream, a future that would never be 'real.' The circular economy definitely needs some Attachment Therapy and hormonal storytelling science. Can Circular Economy learn anything from Nature? Is Circular Economy an another form of denial, an avoidant attachment, so we keep from confronting the escalating climate change?  Circular Economy is one more 'petrified narrative' of how better technology will save us all from the arriving future catastrophe, but the 'good news' because after years of spinning this savior narrative, the grand narrators are now comfortable talking about extinction, planning in advance to avert it. The problem is that without changing the game of capitalism to stop how it uses up ecological resources faster than they planet can replenish them (grow new forests, replenish fresh water aquifer levels, etc.) then the recycling in circular economy, keeps generating and growing even bigger economies, mining and pumping, more and more natural resources, past planetary carrying capacity limits. However, as you know the living story webwork of what people's relations and attachments actually are to the planet have become something else,  not in a good relationship, and quite an ambivalent attachment, event a denial attachment, and the planetary limits are being exceeded in ways that already means the extinction of most marine species, many land species, and will become our own end.  Can Circular Economy rein in hyper-capitalism so that the limits are respected? Yes, if and only if, planetary limits are not exceeded.

The circular economy, as I read it, is currently, not restricting its total consumption and production within planetary limits. It becomes an excuse for business-as-usual, which means hyper capitalism growth capitalism, as usual. 

The challenge becomes to use the momentum of circular economy, and get it to behave, to restrict is natural resource consumption within planetary limits, and to do this with a time horizon that is not the need of 4 billion people of the 7.6 billion, and of most living species.

I like this video from the Skagen workshop  because it shows how immigrants can teach the developing world to live within planetary limits, to use secondary water instead of fresh water in their toilets, and not waste what little unpolluted fresh water frivolously. Can the immigrants and refugees teach the haves quickly enough to live within planetary limits?

The Gaia Ph.D. opts for naturalistic observations of the human engagements with Nature, and all her inhabitants. Cohorts of faculty and Ph.D. students meet in high energy places (with spiritual energy, forces of Nature) and the most negated of places (landfills, gyres of plastic, polluted rivers, collapsed aquifers, the melting glaciers, and so on) to do storytelling reports of human-Gaia relationalities, then we also do together-telling, and 'storytelling science' methods to get to a self-correcting understanding of human-Gaia interaction patterns. This can lead to revealing outmoded and potentially better relational ontologies (Boje, (2019b). The Gaia PhD cohort will engage with local people in powerful places on Earth, 'Grounding' our transdisciplinary studies, descending from narrative-counternarrative Abstracting, find new ways of 'Futuring' and new 'Rehistoricizing' that brings a new kind of attachment relationship between humankind and Gaia.

One discipline is the Ethology of the power of storytelling. As ethological approach, we can investigate Human-Gaia interaction patterns, and assess human sensitivity to Gaia nuances, and vice versa. The second discipline is morphology of narrative, like the six elements of narrative in Aristotle's (350 BCE) Poetics.

We can strive for a more mature attachment, a secure attachment to Gaia, which as you all know, is now quite insecure. We can learn together-telling by bringing researchers and students from different disciplines into lively conversations about 'storytelling science' and how to develop secure attachment of Human-Gaia.

The What, Why, How, When, and Where of 'little s' 'storytelling science'

What is 'storytelling science'? I make storytelling the ground, and narratology one of the figures. Lars-Ake Skalin (2005: 80-81) gives us insight into three registers of storytelling, and how a storyteller such as Hans Christian Andersen, can mix them together with an occasional narrator's exclamation, 'Oh my gosh!' a turning to the audience making an interruption.

Three Registers of Storytelling

  1. Fictio telling as the world appears in dramatic adventure that is narratorless (told in third-person) yet does display values and even musing about this or that or directions attention to some moral or noble situation
  2. Relatio telling the fact-by-fact, the information reporting, in a first-person account
  3. Fabula telling and perhaps performing to help audience get the story right, and implies a 'once upon a time, there was ...' and 'to this day ...'

    The fabula, fictio, and relatio registers can be mixed together in Hans Christian Anderson's ways of storytelling, which to the narratologist 'Oh my gosh!' is quite shocking style. The three registers can be embedded in one another or subordinated or colonize one another. The fabula can appear extra-fictional, quite an objective reporting of relatio facts, and suddenly in character-revealing dialogue, a fabula does its 'internal focalization' and inanimate begins to animate, animalism (a talking dog or fish) and anthropomorphism abounds in the storytelling, which violates most every science discourse, and raises the eyebrow of the narratologist.  Yet, to Gregory Cajete (2000) animism is part of Native Science, a careful observation of nature, its spiritual ecology, how there is no difference between animate and inanimate, at the quantum level of energy, both are alive with energy, and in connection of the living planet. Existence in most Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK) is alive, until colonized by Western Ways of Knowing (WWOK) where most narratologists get their training. 'Oh my gosh!' have I just directed audience attention to Gaia-aliveness in a quantum storytelling? The fabula register of Gaia Storytelling as Gaia becomes living planet can be mixed with register of fictio (adventure telling) and the relatio (fact-finding reportage). Its called hypallage, the mixing of registers, sometimes confusing the audience, giving emotional significance to our relation to Gaia, 'Good gracious!' or 'Ugh!' might be a better interjection.

It is not just mixing registers, this is mixing the levels of systems theory (Boje, 2008). Formal systems become mixed with mechanical systems, that turn into organic or open systems, then into multi-brain systems of intersubjectivity and into the forbidden system level of the transcendental, the Gaia Hypothesis of Earth's planetary aliveness, reacting to scold human's pollution.

It gets worse, the mixing of registers, that are mixing system theory levels that theorists try to keep absolutely separate, has also a gamesmanship, the playing of games by putting fabula inside a science or mechanistic account. Oftentimes at the annual Quantum Storytelling Conference, native indigenous scholars mix the quantum science with a quantum indigenous account of planetary aliveness, exclaiming 'rocks have a spirit of quantum aliveness.' This is a very upsetting game to play with system levels and to mix fabula with fictio or relatio quantumness is a 'no-no' to western narratologists. It is fiction-world creating (Gymnich, 2005: 206), the mixing of many possible worlds, such as mixing with spiritual-world, the 'textual actual world' making reflections upon the 'reference-world' (or some say 'actual-world').

Hans Christian Andersen was a storyteller of not just fairy tales, but uses evaluation markers we can understand their function with an appraisal theory (Wolff Lundholt, 2005: 137-139). The storyteller is choosing the registers, system levels, the games, and the theoretic tools of appraisal, reflecting the attitude of the storyteller in relation to potential world-creating choices, by use of emotional appreciations and valuations.

The answer to 'what is storytelling science? it's a way to keep storytelling competencies from as Walter Benjamin (1936) reminds us, in The Storyteller, to keep storytelling from coming to an end.

Why  'storytelling science'? In 1928 Walter Benjamin walked through the streets of a German city after WWI. He did the first antenarrative reading, discerning what futures were arriving, writing some 60 short essays, each an antenarrative. He looked past the surface as the signs, the semiotics all around him. He noticed the magnitude of the catastrophe, and did what Jane Bennett (2010a) would call 'onto-story' a noticing of the configurations of material things, and the story the sociomateriality entanglement of vibrant mattering was telling. In 1936 Benjamin wrote the most important essay ever on storytelling, and noticed something strange: storytelling was coming to an end, being replaced and displaced by narrative, by information system, and observed that the ways of storytelling of industry, forbidding people to tell and sing at work, partitioning them into cubicles, placing them under constant hierarchical, and now digital surveillance. We need a storytelling science, because after 200,000 years of evolution, something is coming to an end, and we are entering not only Anthropocene but the digital storytelling age. As Khushboo Nangalia is pointing out  there is still importance in putting stories to the date, and talking about a specific character in a place and a time, a situation that has emotional appeal (see Undeniable Power of Business Storytelling).

How we can do 'storytelling science'? Khushboo makes the point that an elevator pitch that does not work may be missing the difference between sympathy for the teller and empathy in the storytelling, its appeal to emotions that get the audience's attention by establishing a 'common ground.' We call it 'Grounding' the antenarrative processes. (Boje, 2001, 2011, 2014). Khushboo recommends setting up a contrast in the storytelling, such as between good and bad, rich and poor, but mostly what it is now and what it can be (what we call the antenarrative 'bets on the future'). Instead of Abstracting about all the statistics or the narrative plot of the pitch, she recommends focusing in on what we call 'True Storytelling' (Boje, Larsen, & Bruun, 2017)..  He definition is when storytelling comes from falsehood, or fake storytelling, then it has a very short shelf life. This of course is mediated when Fox news blasts propaganda placing viewers in Fake News.  How can we articulate and give an account of the difference and contrast between Gaia and Dark Ecology?

When we can use 'storytelling science'? We can use it to untangle the appeal to 200,000 years of brain chemistry and the evolutionary mixing of fabula, fictio, and relatio, the mixing of system levels, and the mixing of storytelling games between storyteller and story-listeners. Those cliff hanger stories that captivate us in the audience, so we are anticipating the next episode, have neurotransmitter pathways being manipulated.

Where can we use 'storytelling science'?  Many places, but for me the living story has its own place, time, and mind. Stories have their own aliveness, and are different than the monological elevator pitch we find so revered in business storytelling. 

It is time for The Gaia PhD!

I for one am willing to give up my attachment to universities in denial, narratologist-avoidance, WWOK-separation anxiety, and disorganized silos of academic disciplines. Let's learn to be nomads, to be transdisciplinary, and do some storytelling science that matters to Gaia, the living planet that also self-organizes, and reacts to humankind, which are so inseparable from Gaia, yet have done so much recent damage since the industrial revolution, and all that plastic accumulation since the 1970s. The Gaia PhD can visit both the sites of Powerful Nature and the Landfills, the Plastic Trash heaps, and the oceanic Gyres. We can experiment and find secure attachments to Gaia, that are healthy, balanced, within planetary limits.

Is this the place and time to make a different antenarrative 'bet on the future'? It is the spacetimemattering moment to be world-making. Gaia Storytelling can be powerful mixing of fabula, relatio, and fictio with 'science'. Today Gaia storytelling is colonized by business storytelling about profit, while people and planet go begging.  Ensembles of diverse discourses (science, politics, technology, etc.) seek power of storytelling  Gaia storytelling needs to overcome the bifurcation of Culture versus Nature. Business storytelling is atop a system of  global power and has sent Gaia storytelling to the margins.

"The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller" - Steve Jobs, 1994

Business storytelling says we are attached to a Romantic,  New Age, Spiritual, Petrified Narrative of Gaia-Nature that is preventing us from confronting our own complicity, our part of the catastrophe rapidly coming our way (Boje, 2019a, 2019b, 2019c)? It is why I am editor-in-chief of the Business Storytelling Encyclopedia (https://davidboje.com). One storytelling is Gaia can be secular, but not enchanted, and nothing spiritual or romantic, at all. Another Gaia Storytelling is from Timothy Morton's (2007, 2016) 'Dark Ecology' without Nature as a distraction  we can become directly aware of the global crises that need problem solving (see YouTube). Dark ecology is a powerful storytelling system  that is blaming nature for ongoing catastrophe, rehistoricizing nature into mere chaos, systems far from equilibrium, prone to disequilibrium, not at all enchanted.  Slavoj Žižek (2012, 2015) even claims 'Nature does not exist'. Since the dawn of humankind, we have altered Nature, put her under the dominion of mechanism and engineering, canalized, dammed and dewatered rivers and pumped aquifers dry until they collapsed the ground, deforested and dessertified the landscape. Romantic Gaia Storytelling and its New Age spirituality is  said to be actually dangerous, destructive, and in need of deconstructing (see YouTube).

The problem is we have Secular Gaia trying to overcoming the bifurcation between Culture World and Nature World. Žižek (see video) says this bifurcation of Culture World from Nature World, and let's add Technology World is actually a false duality, another Petrified Narrative in need of deconstruction.

Table 1: Secular Gaia overcoming Dualisms of Culture/Nature
Subjective Objective
Secular (still Disenchanted)
Living System

Bruno Latour (2017) constructs a secular storytelling of Gaia. Gaia is only the living system with agency, active, animating, retroacting, and grounding, but no spirit. By contrast, Lauren Greyson (2019) explores the ecophilosophy of vital enchantment. That is one of the relational ontologies (one way of Being of the world) that we would like you to explore in a transdisciplinary Gaia Ph.D. There are some other relational ontologies to explore (Boje, 2019b), while grounding your research in an awareness that 'there is no Planet B' (Boje, 2019a) and that means once we pollute Gaia's fresh water, what will we do (Boje, 2019c)? We have a small 's' 'storytelling science' paradigm to share (Boje & Rosile, 2019) that you can download from this website to get a feel for what we are asking you to participate in.

Grasping by embodiment, 'what is the beyond', is an an antenarrative question that gets us beyond the duality if culture world and nature world, and beyond a Gaia living world that is still disenchanted in the name of secular science and technology.

What is the Gaia Hypothesis?

"The Earth is – like us – a living being. This would mean, since everything is related to everything, that the world survives with our existence and that we will live or die with it. Mother Earth, in the hypothesis, is considered to collaborate together with the organisms living on 'her' and the biosphere surrounding 'her'. This makes 'her' a living being, as a whole"  (Princess Gaia)

James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, co-developed The Gaia Hypothesis naming it after the Gaia legends of the primordial goddess in Greek mythology. The biosphere, its temperature, salinity of ocean water, atmospheric oxygen, the hydrosphere of water that nourishes all life is being affected by human activities, mostly by corporation practices (including corporate agriculture, multinational water corporations, pharmaceutical corporations, and so on). For example, ' Every year the average number of prescriptions purchased by Americans increases, as do healthcare expenditures, which are projected to reach one-fifth of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2020' ( Dumit, 2012). Taylor (2011: 175) says a full-fledged bioeconomy is likely in the becoming stages.

Human activities (mainly corporations) and their political lobbies are changing the self-regulating complex living system of planet Earth, the biota, the microorganisms, the biogeochemistry is being changed as levels of CO2, methane, and so are such that the self-regulating Each is reacting. Life on the planet and the environment are co-evolving, entangled, inseparable.

Table 2: Gaia Enchanted Living World Beyond
Spiritual Enchantment
Vibrant Mattering
Humans are not the only species
Planetary Capacity Limits
Grounding by Embodiment
Inseparability of spacetimemattering and aliveness

Enchantment Gaia is Living World of wonderment, and grounding in embodiment (Cajete, 1993). It is opposed by the counternarrative of Dark Ecology. We include Indigenous Ways of Knowing, and are Grounding in the ecological  of indigenous ecology and indigenous community (Cajete, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2009).  We do this in The Gaia Ph.D. by a nomadic pedagogy, meeting four times a year in different ecological places of great power around the wold.

The Other Side of the Story Critics such as Stephen Jay Gould (1997), Ford Doolittle (1981), and Richard Dawkins (1982), say the Gaia Hypothesis is an abstract metaphor, and makes it seem as if Earth its natural and living systems are more purposeful than autopoetic or merely self-organizing), then does that mean it is not spiritual, that quantum energetic vibrant energy is not conspiring?  Is Gaia an active agency, of the biosphere as a whole?  Is Gaia a false science, a New Age illusion?  Toby Tyrrell (2013) concludes “Gaia is a dead end.” Yet, I wonder if this is all there is to the storytelling?

Perhaps we need a 'storytelling paradigm' shift, and we have an idea what it looks like.

Storytelling Theory Shift: It is beyond the first three waves of Grounded Theory. It is a bridging ow Western Ways of Knowing (WWOK) with Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK). New need to get out of the trap of top-down, hierarchical, power-over leadership and look to ensemble leadership theory (Rosile, Boje, & Claw, 2018).

The Power of Storytelling

Storytelling is a vessel for evolution, how we learn lessons to live longer. Evolution has hard wired for storytelling. It is evolution's way of learning survival techniques (See Sir Ian McKellen Vimeo). The power of storytelling is the emotional bond it creates between storyteller and audience. A story well told will let you actually relive the storyteller's events. Our body cannot tell the difference so it reacts the same as in real life. The power of storytelling is its penchant for cultural identity. Cultural identity turns many diverse discourses into master narratives that tell us about ourselves, and who we are in 'Culture World.' The power of storytelling is deeply human desire, evolution thousands of years in the making. We are searching for 'True Storytelling' about powerful places and times that are mattering in the Life World. In the end we are the stories people tell about us at our funeral. Stories are how people remember us. The problem is Culture World remembers the presidents, CEOs and generals, but the microstoria of little people's living stories are soon forgotten, do not make it into the history books or into the archives outside the family (Boje, 2001). The big problem is we often cannot choose the 'grand narratives' we have to live our  entire lives. within. This is why the Power of Storytelling is all about our attachments.

The Magical Science of Storytelling

There is a science behind the power of storytelling (see article by Mark Emond, 2017; see Forbes article by Giovanni Rodriguez).  The science of storytelling is actually grounded on evolutionary chemistry activated when listeners brain chemistry hear stories well told. Our brain has evolved 200,000 years ago, from the Middle Paleolithic era.The power of storytelling hijacks our cortex throwing out our objective observation skills (see YouTube by David JP Philips). Philips identifies five hormone and neurotransmitters that storytelling activates in the brain of listeners. He organizes these into two types: The Angel's Cocktail and the Devil's Cocktail:

The Angel's Cocktail Storytelling:

  1. Dopamine a hormone and neurotransmitter regulating attention, movement, learning, and emotional response (see Psych Today article). The effects of Dopamine storytelling are focus, motivation, and memory. Your palms seat, you anticipate what will happen next, and your heart begins racing.  To tell a Dopamine story, build the suspense, launch a cliff hanger telling rhythm, and do this again and again. The plot is abruptly paused, and the main characters are left in a terrible situation or faced with a revelation. Listeners wait in anticipation of the next installment to the series, to see what they will do next, until it is the final ending. We watch the next installment of Star Wars, the sequel to the Avengers, the next episode of The Ring, Harry Potter, or Start Trek.
  2. Oxytocin is the love hormone and a neurotransmitter that increases in first stages of romantic attachment and love, as well as during breastfeeding, hugging, and sex (see Medicine Today article). The effects of Oxytocin storytelling are empathy, generosity, trust, and bonding. To tell a Oxytocin story, begin with a situation that everyone listening can identify with, one with character development, romance, a bond with Nature that makes you feel something until the brain of the listener begins secreting Oxytocin, in a surge of trust and empathy. See example Andrea Gibbs' The Power of Storytelling.

    "Oxytocin is produced when we feel trusted when we are the object of a kindness or we make a connection with someone" (Marketing Blog article)

  3. Endorphin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that interacts with opiate receptors to relieve stress and pain (see Medicine Net article). The effects of Endorphin storytelling are laughter, creativity, relaxation, and focus. It i the well-known runners' high, giving us pleasure and satisfaction as Endorphin reaches the Limbic system., the emotion part of the primordial brain region.

The Devils' Cocktail Storytelling:

  1. Cortisol the steroid hormone and neurotransmitter that acts as Nature's built-in alarm system (see Medicine web article). The effects of Cortisol storytelling are threat, distrust, fear, anxiety, and being intolerant and  uncreative.
  2. Adrenaline is Nature's fight or flight hormone and neurotransmitter. (see Hormone web article). The effects of Adrenaline storytelling are anger, fleeing, memory impairment, and bad decisions

Philips says the magical power of storytelling it how it tricks the brain of the listener into the intended neurotransmitter effect. His advice is to pick the story to tell that elicits the desired effect on particular hormones and neurotransmitters. However, it is possible to get out of the duality of Angel's and Devil's storytelling dialectic. Distress (Cortisol) and Empathy (Oxytocin) can be used to test storytelling chemistry to predict who will donate to charities which has a dramatic narrative emplotment of rising action, climax, falling action and denouement (See Paul Zak's YouTube video on The Future of Storytelling).

Trumpland Storytelling Science Voting Chemistry
People ask me how did Trump get elected? It is basis storytelling science. If you look at the (neo) liberal political discourse, it constitutes master narratives of threats that immigrants supposedly cause, thus activating Cortisol effects, this is coupled with Adrenaline to excite the fight-flight response in listeners. Put that together with Fox News incessant tales of threat and doom, and you get a Devils' Cocktail Storytelling that tricks the brain of voters and elicits the desired response: fear, anxiety, then fight-fight response and the vote for Trump. The counternarrative evokes another Devils' Cocktail of doomsday scenario storytelling about the Sixth Extinction that is accelerated by Trump withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, then insuring that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) becomes as impotent as US Department of Agriculture. Trump's campaign chest is full of money from the coal, oil, gas, and gun lobby, all of whom want to avoid any kind of regulation of the industry.

The Angels' Cocktail is the Dopamine-Oxytocin-Endorphin Storytelling, and you see that the lively tales of Romance, Love, Care, and Laughter are losing the political ground in Trumpland to the Cortisol-Adenaline Storytelling.

How to Begin Storytelling Science
1. You are already a great storyteller
You are 200,000 years of storytelling evolution, and you are hardwired to storytelling, your brain chemistry is adapted, and you recognize a good story well told.
2. Get a Notebook Write down the living stories of your own life. The most powerful storytelling is your very own life world experiences. You begin to notebook the storytelling in your own life world. You will find that there are ten times more stories and narratives all around you.
3. Notice the Storytelling Dynamics All around you, you are embedded in other people's Petrified and Master Narratives. They keep recruiting you to their plot, as a character, and you get colonized.  Notice the Petrified Narratives and Counter Narratives you are resisting, and notice the more dialogical manner of living stories and those counterstories.
4. Index your Storytelling Chemistry Which are Angels' Cocktail is the Dopamine-Oxytocin-Endorphin Storytelling and which are the Cortisol-Adenaline Storytelling. Is there a third way, that does not dualize between Angels and Devils ways of storytelling?

That said, I am looking at changing the storytelling evolutionary chemistry. I am looking at the Western Ways of Knowing (WWOK) and Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK), and how the two are interacting in Storytelling Paradigm Shifts that are happening. A paradigm is theory, method, and intervention. There are many storytelling paradigm candidates. Next a few examples, but know there are many more.










Quantum Storytelling Theory



Narrative-Counternarrative Dialectics


Ensemble Leadership Theory

Antenarrative Prospective Sensemaking

2nd Wave Grounded Theory

3rd Wave

Grounded Theory

4th Wave

Grounded Theory

1st Wave Grounded Theory



Self-Correcting Induction Method







Qualitative Induction





Critical Accounting

Storytelling Multiplicities Analyses



Socio-Economic Storytelling

Critical Accounts


Text-based Restorying


Restorying Process

True Storytelling


Storytelling Method Shift: Our ideas of a paradigm shift in method begins with self-correcting induction methoc, and a move from 'crude induction' to both quantitative induction and qualitative induction.  We are not giving away our grounding to quantitative, we challenge it with both ethnostatistics, and qualimetrics, as well as critical accounting of the long-term intergenerational hidden costs of the corporate-political influence speculative capitalism.

Storytelling Intervention Shift Not just Knowing, Being, Testing, but also Interventions of Doing. We work with our colleagues in Lyon on socio-economic storytelling, with building critical accounts, and when the critical grounding is turned up, there is a place for appreciative inquiry. We move from text-based restorying to 'embodied restorying process' intervention (Flora et al., 2016), and of course, always 'True Storytelling' principles.

Join us every December in Las Cruces New Mexico for the annual gathering of the 'Quantum Storytelling Conference.' We take The Gaia Ph.D. to Denmark, to that place in Skagen at the very tip, where the two oceans meet, so you can feel the power of the waves.  Where are the most powerful Gaia places where we can go beyond?

Asking 'what is beyond' and as yet non-narrativizable, and unstoryable, means we rely on our won emotive intuitive grasping.  It is that 'snap' moment in the eventness of Being when we stop abstracting a petrified narrative (or grand narrative), exit the role of idle bystander, and are compelled by what Mikhail Bakhtin (1993: 3) calls 'moral answerability' and Judith Butler (2005) calls 'moral accountability' that is beyond the limits of story and narrative, and yet we ought to do it anyway.  We are inseparable from vibrant mattering (Bennett, 2001, 2004, 2010a, 2010b). Can there be a spacetimemattering (Barad, 2003, 2007, 2008) that is also enchanted?

Learn storytelling science methodology for your dissertation

  Seminar Series Title: 'storytelling science' 'little s' for your dissertation and after
                                     David M. Boje

Note: Both books downloadable for FREE until they are published, then you must pay for them.      
Please Download 'storytelling science' for dissertation book from this folder
Please also download
Boje's Storytellling and Water Book

Storytelling Paradigm Shift:

"Just as for the rest of us, what scientists believe or say they do and what they really do have a very loose fit ... Gender, race, the world itself – all seem just effects of warp speeds in the play of signifiers in a cosmic force field. All truths become warp speed effects in a hyper-real space of simulations" (Haraway, 2009: 110).

Marita Svane and David Boje have developed six antenarrative questions. We ask them to help move from all the Abstracting narratives-counternarratives to Grounding in more dialogical ways of Being on the world. We resituate 'storytelling science' in the ways of many futures arriving (Futuring) and in the Rehistoricizing that keeps happening. We don't buy into the propaganda of Beginning-Middle-End narrative Abstracting, or its linear plot lines. There are many pasts and many futues. What Bets on the Future are we making already now?

BEGIN with What are the six antenarrative questions?

                            are the Six Antenarrative Questions?
Antenarrative Defined:
Antenarrative is pre-constitutive, antecedent process out of which a multiplicity of discourses are reconstituted into narrative-counternarrative and story-counterstory relationships.  What are these multiplicities of discourses? Out of our conversational realities (Shotter, 1993), the discourses of sociomateriality, technology, science, and so are are the stuff out of which storytelling is being constituted.

Anders and Boje ensembles of discourses
Ensembles of discourses are comprised of narratives-counternarratives, stories-counterstories, metaphors, and tropes.

What are the Six Antenarrative Questions

1. What was Before? Before the Petrified Narrative of Romanticized Mother Nature, and before the Petrified Narrative of Industrial Revolution, was another Grand Narrative that humans were given dominion over the Earth, and could subdue and even destroy nature without consequence. Of course Žižek is right (see YouTube) ecology was already preconstituted as religion. The new counternarrative is ecology, will be the external spectator, the new godhead, to give capitalism and us consumers limits.

2. What is Beyond? Beyond here means a grasping from embodiment of our attachment relation to planet Earth. We are thos 37.2 trillion living cells, in constant and inseparable exchange with Nature, with no boundary between human-nature, animal-nature, and plant-nature. We are living quantum energy, vital mattering, living nature already. We know that the body does not lie, but the mind does fanticize and this is our problem. The Beyond is an antenarrative process of our embodiment nature.

3. What is Beneath?  We know from Paul RIcoeur hermeneutics that it takes Mimesis 1 (Boje, 2001) the mimetic multiplicities of discourses that are constitutive of language, symbol, context understanding, conceptions in order, all pre-constitutiveness  to get to Memesis 2 (the emplotment of story or narrative), and after that is Mimesis 3 (the contextualiztion and rehistorizicizing of Memesis 2 until it is semiemnted as Memesis 3) and the hermeneutic circle begins again.

4. What is Between? Two interpretations we have worked with. First is the notion of infrastructure or what Heidegger (1962) calls forestructuring the between.  Second is to exit the thesis-antithesis-synthesis kinds of dialectical and get out of the duality in a Third Way. We look at the move from 'Abstracting' dialectical  (D1) petrified narratives<-->counternarratives and actually 'Grounding in Gaia (which we already are, but in denial of that attachment), as way to proceed.

5. What is Becoming? Hopefully it is the Becoming of Care, the Virtue EThics and the Ethics of Care, but more than these, the Becoming of an Answerability Ethics (Bakhtin, 1993, and what Judity BUtler, 2005 calls 'moral accountability' for oneself ), and what we are calling Terrestrial Ethics. We are morally answerable, even when we reach the limits of narrative coherence, and are accountable to account for our own complicity in the arriving catastrophes, and to be self-reflexive in a deep ecology way about our role in all this.

6. What Bets on the Future? There are many Futures and many Pasts. There are futures that never will be, and pasts that never were. Organizations of all kinds are making bets on the future of the relaitonship between Humankind and Nature, and if this is not a duality, but an entanglement of inseparability, then the Abstracting sort of dialectic won't work at all. Rather, the kind of 'negation of the negation' dialectic Hegel was pursuing, and many others since pursuing question of 'negation of the negation' (Heidegger, 1927/1962: Sartre, 1960/2004; Deleuze, 1991, 1991, 1994; Žižek, 2012; Butler, 2005; Arendt, 1977, 1978). Each is trying to get to a different reading of Begson (1960, 1980) extensive, intensive, and virtual multiplicities (Boje, 2019b). The 'negation of the negation' dialectic is not the polorizing narrative-counternarrative polemics (thesis-antithesis-synthesis)."
But dialectical processes of development in reality and in our cognition are not exhausted by the law of the transition from quantity into quality and conversely, and the law of the unity of opposites" (Ripley, 2011). Rather 'negation of the negation' is a multiplicity of multiplicities, and we are part of the multiplicity, inseparable from Nature which is also not a oneness, but is herself a multiplicity (Boje, 2019a, 2019b, 2019c). We are beginning, only beginning to come to terms with multiplicities. Rosile, Boje, and Claw (2018) are theorizing 'ensembles of multiplicities' and Sartre (1960/2004) looks a a myriad of practical ensembles, some quite exploitative, others offering liberatory potential.

" In the development of a plant, the seed, a manifestation of its growth, appears as the negation of it, i.e., the negation of the negation. But seeds are generated by the development of the plant, they constitute a moment of the plant, a moment which signifies the goal of the development of the plant. The plant rots, the seed remains. The cycle of development is finished" (Ripley, 2011).

The problem, of course is a cycle as Deleuze (1994) observes moves and deviates and becomes a spiral which can lose it symmetry and become rhizomatic (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987;  2004). Further, there are upward and downward spiraling forces, and can turn rhizomatic at any moment.  If Gaia is not a stable, harmonious, synthesis of equilibrium taking care to nurture the species, all of them, not just humankind, then is it without oneness, a self-organizing movement, without anything Becoming by more and more catastrophe? Such an understanding of spiral rhizomatic antenarrative is quite different than the linear antenarrative of dialectical development (thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

The negation of the negation It is not an easy notion. The 'Abstracting' is the first negation, and the second negation is about particularities, and how the external is zooming in on the local, and quantum is zooming out form the 'Grounding.' No synthesis in the 'negation of the negation' just more self-negation, negations of the Other, the negation of attachment, and now and again a secure attachment, for a while, and the process of self-sublation
(Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's German term Aufhebung). Sublation, can be defined the diversion of our biological impulse, our attachment-instinct, from its desire to a more sustainable and forecaring 'moral answerability' even when its unstoryable, as yet unnarratizible.

We need a Terrestrial Ethics, a move from Abstracting to Grounding

Basic model with 4 Ds and
                                  antenarrative images

Storytelling Paradigm Shift

" But we cannot afford these particular plays on words – the projects of crafting reliable knowledge about the “natural” world cannot be given over to the genre of paranoid or cynical science fiction. For political people, social constructionism cannot be allowed to decay into the radiant emanations of cynicism" (Haraway, 2007: 110).

It is time to begin 'Grounding' whatever disciplines you want to study in your dissertation in the natural systems. We leave it for you to decide if you follow Latour (2017) in a secular approach to Gaia, or do a dissertation about Enchanted Gaia.

Either choice, we have a Gaia Ph.D. Manifesto. It is time to move from Abstracting Virtue Ethics or Ethics of Care to the Grounding in Answerability Ethics and especially in Terrestrial Ethics.


Storytelling Shift in Political Economy

Antenarratives of Futuring need Answerability Ethics, the moral answerability for how we are all accountable to act in once-occurrent cyclical processes of Gaia. We need what we at The Gaia PhD are calling a "Terrestrial Ethics," for each corporations and its politico influence and each one of us, to give what Judith Butler (2005) calls a 'moral account of oneself' Being on the world of Gaia.

                              Gaia PhD Manifesto

Radical Political Economic Reform

Henri Savall 's (2018) life long project to reform political economy is inspired by by the visionary work of Germán Bernácer. Collective ownership of natural heritage (Savall, 2018: 362), the natural endowments of land and natural resources for Bernácer are differentiated from the human-created assets (buildings housing, & productive equipment). Bernácer see the need to overall level control of insidious and odius injustice such as speculative financing and land speculation, including private beaches (p. 363). The reforms to political economy fall between Marx's complete rejection of capitalism, and Maynard Keynes' government control of failed private enterprises.  Bernácer, unlike Schumpeter develops political economic reforms to keep the cyclic crises of capitalism from creating unemployment and economic crisis after crisis. At the same time Bernácer rejects equilibrium and uses combinations of deduction and induction as scientific methods. We add Peirce abduction, to utilize the abduction-induction-deduction triadic approach to 'storytelling science.' The purpose is to develop more radical political economic reform such that Nature's ecological heritage is separated out political economic exploitation.  The collective ownership of natural heritage needs 'Terrestrial Ethics' a posthumanist standpoint in which humans are one of millions of species.  Bernácer's cycle theory  is characterized 'ethical dialectics' and by intervention in the downturns in which depression crisis is fatal (p. 299, 304). Can we learn 'Grounding' to feel the Nature we are already apart of?

Gaia Storytelling Paradigm Shift

In the words of Paula Gunn Allen, you are a walking climatic body, with 37.2 trillion living cells, all of them have water to live. Our trillions of living cells are inseparable from the ecology of colonies of biotic cellular life.We are inseparable form ecology, complicit in the crises of Gaia. We are part of Nature, existing in co-evolution, and answerable for Terrestrial Ethics in political economics. I think there is a role for fabula, relatio, and fictio in Gaia Storytelling. Some may disagree. That is why we need 'storytelling science' in order to begin to refute and confirm, to be dialogical with one another.

The Gaia Ph.D.
Contact David M. Bøje