Monday, February 08, 2010

Story Time

Going to throw out an abstract idea that I came upon while walking in the rain the other day:

Every person has a great story to tell/is living a wonderful story/is hoping or working towards an ideal story in their head.

Think about it. There are many things that make homo sapiens unique from other creatures. Opposable thumbs, use of advanced tools, but I think the most wonderful (if intangible) difference is the soul and intelligence to tell stories and pass them along. Now let's not get into arguments about animals, primates etc. I think they have souls and varying levels of intelligence, and for all we know, they tell each other stories. But not nearly to the same extent.

Ponder if you will, the Lascaux Cave Paintings. These bad boys are apparently some 17,000 years old. Yes, most people are more interested in the controversy over the dots and dashes (star patterns or hunting tally) but for my purposes, I want you to take a peek at the hunting pictures.

Firstly, note how awesome they are considering the age! Much better artistically than I could probably ever do even though I have millenia of wonderful art I have been exposed to since then.

But also, do you think the cavemen thought "You know what, Bam Bam, I'm going to draw a deer today. Just because our cave walls look a bit boring and drab. I'm going to give it a makeover"? I expect not. Either they wanted to chronicle their exploits for later cavepeople to read or express themselves artistically. In any event: sharing their story for later generations.

I suppose we then moved to vocal story-telling traditions to spread news and important stories, no thanks to the more empirical thinkers such as Plato trying to kill these traditions! Then the handwritten manuscripts, then the printing press and so forth. This is secondary school history, I don't have to tell you this. But the net effect remains the same. Man throughout the course of civilisation has sought to record stories (history) for posterity and future generations.

Most key to this ramble is that this exists now, in oh-so-many forms. People telling stories over coffee, parents reading bedtime stories to their children, and the millions of books that now may or may not be evolving into e-books and the soft-copy children of the Amazon Kindle and the iPad. The desire for most individuals to be in long term relationships could be interpreted as the need to have someone with whom to share one's life story. The desire to make something of one's life: a craving to leave behind a legacy that will last beyond the point where the individual deceases. A story that will endure and be worth telling in the future. Most demonstrably, personal bloggers as a phenomenon are the most directly indicative of people who desire to tell stories to a wider audience.

What do you think?

7 Response to Story Time

8 February 2010 at 13:33

What a wonderful post. I remember a couple of years ago for art class I did a project on the evolution of storytelling through art, and we had to create a couple of pieces. I did a comic book and an illuminated manuscript all medieval style. (I have a big framed print of a page from the Book of Kells at home!) There are so many different art forms through the ages - it's kind of worrying how digital everything is going, because it makes you wonder what legacy we're going to leave on the proverbial cave walls...

8 February 2010 at 21:37

I think this is my favorite of all your posts. I particularly like this: "The desire for most individuals to be in long term relationships could be interpreted as the need to have someone with whom to share one's life story." So true. I very much like when you get philosophical. I add that combined with this collective need to tell our stories, there is a fear that no one will want to hear them. History proves, however, that even the most obscure stories will be heard (like this cave painting made by some hunter somewhere) and will even be studied for the time/culture they represent. This makes me think about blogs and how pretty much anyone can tell their story daily. What will people think of them down the road? I personally think that every story matters. Thanks for putting my brain to work today. I will be thinking about it later I'm sure.

8 February 2010 at 22:13

I never really thought about this but I think you make your point really well. It makes me think!

10 February 2010 at 23:44

Great post (as usual) Stephen!
I agree. We are all story tellers, some of us better than others but we're all "writing" our own personal novel - The Story of my Life.

11 February 2010 at 06:38

Hmmm yes, I don't really know what story I am trying to share with my audience. I guess the bits of me that even I don't understand.

12 February 2010 at 13:20

My life is not one big story, it would be pretty boring if it was. It's the little stories that get me by. People think the bigger the story the better, but everyday stories entertain me just as much.
I think in the end we all just learn from these stories that anything can happen in this world.

Nothing is impossible, just Improbable.

14 February 2010 at 21:01

EJ - I worry that because our legacy and proverbial cave walls are becoming increasingly enshrined on electronic sources so a virus, EMP or a millenium bug type thing and bam. All gone...

Alex - Haha glad to hear that what I'm writing even occasionally makes people think :D

Stephany - Yeah, we don't think about these random things until they hit us at the most unexpected of times.

Alexandra - Heck when we all get famous, our blogs and memories will help us write our memoirs :P

S/G - The little bits are the ones that make them unique!

Ed - Oh, I don't know, I think it's a matter of perception. Your life can still be one big story if you think of your 'little' stories are mere chapters of that singular stories. I'd rather think of a larger more epic story than a random collection of mini stories, lest you start to feel the futility of the human condition.