prologue
Narratocracy and the Contours
of Political Life
The distinction between touch and sight are unknown in primordial
perception. It is only as a result of the science of the body that we
learn to distinguish between our senses. maurice merleau-ponty
There is nothing quite like the sensation that accompanies an idea.
The idea doesn’t have to be particularly sophisticated, or even elabo-
rate. It can be as simple as figuring out exactly the right gift to give
someone for his or her birthday, or how to respond to a challenging
essay question. But when it strikes you, it invades your life. All of a
sudden, something that didn’t have either shape or texture begins to
take form. You read a phrase and think ‘‘les mots justes!’’ Or you come
across an image in a recipe book, a movie, or a YouTube video and
exclaim ‘‘it’s perfect!’’ The idea a√ects you at diverse registers of
experience: It has a sound, you can see it, touch it, taste it, and
sometimes even smell it. Connections are drawn that hadn’t oc-
curred to you, and you become convinced of the concreteness of
your thought formation. Something as vaporous and ethereal as a
rumination is transformed into a palpable representation, and you
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