Right Story, Wrong Story

Right Story, Wrong Story


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Gabi's Review

I was late to the party reading indigenous Australian author Tyson Yunkaporta’s Right Story, Wrong Story, assuming it was yet another book about the lessons the modern industrialised world can learn from Indigenous culture practices. Canadian anthropologist and conservationist Wade Davis has championed this cause for decades and while I am a believer, I suspect solutions rarely scale to the complexity of modern issues. So, as it happens, does Tyson Yunkaporta who has advanced the conversation in uniting the core values of humanity, modern and ancient in an innovative dialogue with a blue skies science directive.

Right Story, Wrong Story is all about dialogue, the right relationship with it and the wrong one. It consists of twelve tales, each featuring a unique tool handcrafted by the author using natural symbolic resources. It begins, appropriately enough, with a dugout canoe as we embark on the journey. Yunkaporta’s creative process offers a time-honoured knowledge lesson tied to a specific location. In one tale, he uses a salvaged keel pin from a colonial shipwreck to forge a steel boomerang while contemplating a concept from Conan the Barbarian, demonstrating principles of human connection across storytelling formats and the ultimate hilarious outcome of wrong story. He argues that for people of all cultures, story is at the heart of real world outcomes, and getting it right is everything.

Be prepared for concepts like Schrodinger's wombat, a wild extrapolation of Nick Bostrum's paper-clip AI, and global social technologists with a newfound humility, seeking the right stories where experts, in conversation with indigenous custodians, guide beneficial outcomes. The exchange of ideas is both light-hearted and seriously profound in its examination of social aggregates appropriate for modern global solutions. I found my self laughing out loud and emerged less skeptical, feeling these cross-cultural collaborations hold hope for change. Tyson Yunkaporta playfully demonstrates our path forward is best shaped by forms of collective thinking that are aligned with the complex evolution of the natural world which connects us all. I would recommend this to anyone in the mood for positive dialogue about the future.

Publishers Reviews

The award-winning author of Sand Talk returns with a formidably original yarn with Indigenous thought leaders from around the globe.

Sand Talk, Tyson Yunkaporta's bestselling debut, cast an Indigenous lens on contemporary society. It was, said Melissa Lucashenko, 'an extraordinary invitation into the world of the Dreaming'.

Right Story, Wrong Story extends Yunkaporta's explorations of how we can learn from Indigenous thinking. Along the way, he talks to a range of people including liberal economists, memorisation experts, Frisian ecologists, and Elders who are wood carvers, mathematicians and storytellers.

Right Story, Wrong Story describes how our relationship with land is inseparable from how we relate to each other. This book is a sequence of thought experiments, which are, as Yunkaporta writes, 'crowd-sourced narratives where everybody's contribution to the story, no matter how contradictory, is honoured and included...the closest thing I can find in the world to the Aboriginal collective process of what we call "yarning".'

And, as he argues, story is at the heart of everything. But what is right or wrong story? This exhilarating book is an attempt to answer that question. Right Story, Wrong Story is a formidably original essay about how we teach and learn, and how we can talk to each other to shape forms of collective thinking that are aligned with land and creation.