Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Storytelling is an art that people keep thinking should be the most powerful medium. It has a long history, after all, and in earlier days whole tribes would be held spellbound by a good storyteller. Therefore, the thinking is, we are wired for this somehow, and lack only the opportunity and a little encouragement to The Tradition for this art to really take off.

It's sort of like how professional soccer is always just about to catch on in America, or how Brazil keeps having a bright economic future.

I've done a little storytelling - I'm neither particularly bad nor particularly good at it. It's fun. If the storyteller is exceptionally good, sometimes it works. But most it sucks. It sucks partly because of the people who go into it. Storytelling worked when the people telling the stories desperately wanted to pass along their culture, often for religious or social reasons, and the people hearing the story agreed that this was all central to their existence somehow. Today's storytellers are multiculturally obsessed, and want to pass on something of interest from every culture except their own. This story comes originally from The Gambia, says the fishbelly-pale liberal with the irritating voice. So that we know that it's all terribly important somehow.

Example: While looking for something else, I came across a storytellers newsletter (which seems rather contradictory, really). The star being interviewed that month had this to say:
When the most powerful country in the world has a choice between being a shining light of democracy or the bully of the world; when millions around the world go hungry while advanced technology could feed them; as AIDS spreads, families struggle to make ends meet, terrorism threatens the fabric of global existence, and a young athlete is given ninety million dollars to advertise sneakers made by companies that globally exploit child laborers, we need stories. We need stories to keep our hearts, souls and ethics intact. We need stories that fill us with the desire to do good for others: to make a humane mark, large or small, a mark that makes a positive difference. We also need songs and ballads, yes, musical stories that ring out with loud and clear messages.
It's amazing how the world always seems to need exactly what the person you are talking to provides. You can catch her whole essay here - it's a hoot. Are we surprised that Joe Hill and Mother Jones figure prominently?

The more recent issue provides a photo of the new board on page 2. Which would tell you everything if page 1 hadn't already done so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That picture is a "One Classic Photo" and definitely "worth 1000 words".