A theoretical and visual research developed by Ada Popowicz
Philosophy for Storytelling

I. The Tool That Made Us

Among the many iconic products of modern visual culture there is an image of a lasting popularity and importance. It's an internationally recognised picture that managed to remain engraved in the common memory and use for almost six decades. The March of Progress, or The Road to Homo Sapiens, drawn in 1965 by Rudolph Zallinger for the Early Man volume of the Life Nature Library represents a 25 million year long linear progression from a Dryopithecus Primate to the Modern Man. Even though the image has gained a fair amount of anthropological criticism and is officially discredited as a scientific reference, it still remains one of the most iconic and recognizable visuals of our time and its many versions and reproductions are used regularly for both educational and comedic purposes.

The important characters in the illustration are obviously the six figures representing different stages of our species' evolution. There is however another interesting presence. One crucial tool accompanies the march towards civilisation. A spear.
March Of Progress

Interestingly, the spear appears only once—in the hand of a Cro-magnon Man, the last figure preceding the Modern Man. It looks as if the spear was a key object that allowed for the evolutionary jump from a primitivie savage to a civilised man. We made the spear and the spear made us.

As The March Of Progress represents misconceptions, so does The Spear and so do Other Stories. It is impossible to achieve an objective view of the world. We see the world and ourselves within it through the stories we tell each other about it. Our experience is an entanglement of personal, idiosyncratic storytelling and the shared narratives permeating the specific time, land and culture one is situated in.
A man throwing a spear
Illustration of bear hunters
Illustration of mammoth hunters
The stories however, go way beyond those told consciously. Popular fairytales, ancient myths and common fictions are perceived and often appreciated as tools of education and entertainment, but never taken too seriously. Some of the most pervasive stories of our time are also often most dangerous—because we do not see them as stories. They are naturalised, taken for granted and seen as a part of objective reality.
They are the stories of humans' relationship with nature; stories of the hero and the value of his dominance; stories of progress, objectivity and rationality—even stories about how stories ought to be created. All made up. All naturalised. Through the past centuries, the increasingly homogenised (western, often colonial and patriarchal) take on these stories has slowly erased and monopolised over the stories told alternatively—by the non-white, non-male, non-cis and indigenous agents.
However, as David Graebner has noticed, "the ultimate hidden truth of the world is that it's something that is made and can as easily be un-made" . The stories could be told differently.

Chronologically, one of the first formative stories for humans are the stories of our evolution. The stories of hunters-gatherers and the tools that defined their leap forward towards civilisation. Popular culture provides us with an illustration of of that journey. <'The March Of Progress'>, as widely criticised (by anthropologists and evolutionary scientists alike) as it is, has been irreversibly cemented in the common mind. It shows a linear progression of homo sapiens from a primitive animal to the proud modern man. That progression is accompanied by one tool. A spear.
Interestingly, the story of human emergence onselectstart a tool of domination and aggression as THE companion of human kind. The ordering of the catgeorisation being 'hunter-gatherer' (and not 'gatherer-hunter') also says a lot about the promoted value system.

Author Ursula K. Le Guin did not agree with that story. In The Carrier Bag Theory Of Fiction (1986), she suggested that the first defining cultural device of humanity wasn't a spear but a basket. The spear retained its primary reputation due to the rhetoric of storytelling—it is easier to tell a story of a singular hero killing a mammoth than a collective effort of fruit-picking. But the tool by which Ursula wants to define her female, non-dominant self is a receptacle. A thing to hold things in. A basket.
The Act Of Basket-Making

Basketology is a philosophy for alternative storytelling. Informed by Le Guin's explorations, it sees the spear as a manifestation of modern narratives of discrimination, exclusion and domination, and the basket as a tangible metaphor of all the perspectives that could be told in their place (or rather as their context, extension, net—replacing of one hegeminy with anither is to be avoided). As much as the linear and binary construction of the spear (and its aggressive, dominant cultural connotations) relate to the colonial and patriarchal attitudes it represents, the basket, as a woven, entangled object, beautifully illustrates the overlooked possibilities of MULTI-DIRECTIONALITY, PLURALITY, NON-ABSOLUTENESS and RECEPTIVITY.

Incidentally, these four traits are what constitutes the guiding principles of Basketology .
By metaphorising these traits as illustrations of physical attributes and cultural connotations of a basket, Basketology aims to explore what kind of narratives can emerge from viewing the world and ourselves within it not through the lens of a spear, but from a basket perspective. Seeing vacuum-authorship as a myth, these topics are explored in dialogue and in collaboration. Presented here in a form of a podcast series, conversations with Basketologists (people and organizations who already apply basket-like ways of thinking) inform and enrich all the ideas of Basketology. Immerse yourself in possibilities of crowd-sourced archives, collaborative sport, actions of gathering and... basketry. Try to sit down, listen, meditate. And, if you just feel like it—weave a basket.

Time as a linear, techno-utopian.


Surrounded by statues and protagonists it is difficult for us to imagine a world without a hero leading the story. But her-based storytelling results many problematic plots. As Gary Younge suggests, statues reduce a historical event to a single person. A revolution that was brought on by collective social effort is presented as a singular, not collective achivement. As Juliette Cezzar notices, "substituting hagiography for history itself is an obsession that we should consider letting go; it’s connected to our most corrosive idea, one that is currently enjoying a renaissance: that we are a culture of winners and losers, the winners always deserve to win, and the losers deserve their punishment.". The veneration of the hero reduces others into victims: those who must be rescued. *“The prototypical savior is a person who has been raised in privilege and taught implicitly or explicitly (or both) that they possess the answers and skills needed to rescue others,”.

Finally, as Mia Mingus states *"We really need to stop putting people on pedestals. It is harmful and dehumanizes all involved. Putting someone on a pedestal is not caring for th. It is not love. You can love, admire, adore, learn from, or follow the leadership of someone without putting them on a pedestal.Putting people on pedestals is part of the binary of how we categorize people into “good and “bad.” They are two sides of the same coin and they contribute to our collective inability to understand, identify and respond to harm. We demonize people or we put them on pedestals."


We like to see things as finished.


Nature vs Culture