Ego death reconsidered

This past weekend somebody explained to me the concept of ego death. It is usually defined in the context of mythic stories or psychedelic drug use.

But it occurred to me that the concept fits neatly into the difference between lean-forward entertainment experiences, such as game play, and lean-back entertainment experiences, such as being told a story. The former preserves and even enhances the presence of the ego, whereas the latter temporarily annihilates it.

Our sense of self is in the very center of game-play. In a way, it is all about us. We place ourselves at risk in a safe context, and thereby learn our strengths and our limits.

But when being told a story, our self disappears. We are not in the story, and (other than in experimental works) we as individuals are not called out or referenced. It is only afterward that we apply our individual self to analysis of the narrative that we have experienced.

In a sense, good storytelling is all about ego death.

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