Myth in comics. The myth of sustainable development? From a cultural point of view, the comic becomes a tool for promoting the myth and its translation or reinforcement in mass consciousness. Attaining this cultural objective in a particular comic strip is a fantastic, complex artistic challenge The world of myth revolves around a sequence of miraculous events (transformations, adventures, trials, etc.), at the epicentre of which there is a hero or heroine who must find or invent extraordinary actions to radically change the general course of events: to rescue or pro-
tect innocence, avoid or mitigate overwhelming danger, bring order out of chaos. In the case of sustainable development, this translates easily into a need for the hero to save humankind – or some particular ‘corner’ of humankind – by adopting sustainable behaviour and lifestyle. On the way, the hero discovers the universality of human strengths and capabilities, and thus is inspired to new achievements beyond what is thought to be feasible. This microcosm can serve as a building block for any imaginary worlds, and all subjects – infinitely varied and totally unlike each other.
2.3 Planetary perspective Sustainable development is not about marginal changes to the way we do things today. If human societies are to have a chance to survive, then sustainable development is about a radical transformation of the way we think and thus the way we behave. This perspective is sometimes called ‘strong sustainability’. Consequently both teachers and learners – and indeed, we are ALL learners in this area – are faced with the challenge of letting go of some of our most cherished beliefs about the world. As Einstein is reputed to have said, a problem cannot be solved from the same perspective that caused it. Or: only a fool will go on and on repeating the same behaviour, and expect, suddenly, a different result. However, like fish, we find it hard to see the water in which we swim. How do we recognize our own underlying beliefs and thought patterns, in order to challenge them? Koestler has called it ‘the bringing together of previously separate matrices’: that is, we have everything we need to do the work, but need to let go of our addiction to analysis and try a little synthesis. Most tools to bring this about are based on surprise.
In this chapter we described the two ‘surprise’ elements of comics: an unusual or unexpected tool, and heroic myths. In our workshops we often use a third ingredient, that of interplanetary travel. This is particularly relevant to sustainable development because space travel and science fiction are closely linked with images of the future; and because sustainable development calls for local solutions in a planetary context. We have travelled too far down the road of unsustainability to be able to turn development around from a purely local perspective.
A guide for leaders of workshops for comics for sustainable development