Beyond the Leitmotif or Grand Narrative

Every age has its leitmotif, a set of beliefs that explains the universe, that inspires or consoles the individual by providing  an explanation for  the multiplicity of events impinging on him or her.  In the medieval period it was religion, in the enlightenment it was reason, in the nineteenth and twentieth century it was nationalism combined with a view of history as a motivating force. Science and technology are the governing force of our current age.

The Leitmotif helps us to understand our worlds but it is not in and of itself  an absolute truth. If it were it wouldn’t change from year age to age. It is more the way that we come to  rely, relate and believe  in a leitmotif, that  is itself  a problem and maybe there is some advantage in learning to explore other possibilities of perception and understanding the world. Sometimes our attachments to our thoughts can separate us from what we truly are. To let go of the narrative, grand or individual, and to  look to our own direct experience in life and to trust in something that we are a part of and that is a part of us and that we can know more fully from looking inward.

In some ways, “to look within” is a leitmotif.  But it is not in believing in the leitmotif or the  narrative or the meaning, or concept that we look to understand  and know more intimately our being and role in existence.  It is in coming to relate to and be in life from the  direct experience,  that there is a new way of seeing.

2 thoughts on “Beyond the Leitmotif or Grand Narrative

  1. I suppose the leitmotif is what we look to for meaning. Even though a particular leitmotif is dominant in different historical periods, it doesn’t mean it is universal of course. Religion is still the leitmotif for many. Some are belief systems which, when arrived at, are imposed on reality – e.g. religions and political dogmas. Some are attitudes of openness to learning – e.g. enlightenment and science.


    1. That makes sense. Leitmotif is a concept. I think it was taken from music and again its another narrative that attempts to explain things and is quite relative and generalized in its scope. I think it can be helpful for us to see the way we use narrative. The post modern age began to question the function of philosophy and reason as it was being used. They even seemed to question the legitimacy of what they were saying and proposing, at least as an absolute truth.


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