The Origin of Stories
My niece, Jennifer Grisanti, a Los Angeles based film and movie script-writing consultant, posted an intriguing comment the other day. “The void between illusion and the truth is where story lives,” she said. It got me to thinking about where indeed stories do come from.
Deep within the murky penumbra of the unconscious mind, lies a latticework of memories, stories, fears and aspirations. The bio-electronic synapses intermingle and overlap, as they percolate in our mental cauldron until sometimes the lines between them softens and dissolves.
I think this is the place where the surreal and the fantastic merge to create the stories that we tell on a cold night around a smoky campfire. Amidst the querulous Celts, from whom I am descended, this is and was a long respected and much admired tradition of telling us who they are and from whence they had come. It is quite literally antiquity speaking to us, through a veil of dimly remembered times and events.
The preferred villain, the ogre, always surfaces and threatens the youthful aspirant. The young Lochinvar always gets around the imposing barrier of the lurking beast and succeeds in his/her quest, to the joy of all the watchers. Does that about cover much of our known Literature? Oh, of course, there are several types of treachery and the injustice of many human failings that spice up the plot.
And if you stir in the machinations of aliens and super beings, you can explain just about anything that happens to us as a species. Everyone wants to believe in a rational explanation, even if it involves fantastic influences. “Why?” is always the question. “Who knows,” is often the answer. That’s where writers and presidential aides come in. We make up alternative facts that explain away what happened.
It is the reader or the listener that creates reality. They parse the assembled narrative and interpret for themselves what both facts and solutions are and the relative credibility assigned to each. That is as it should be. We all look through many prisms to interpret what our senses tell us. Age, gender, geography, education, profession and geographical location are but a few of the filters that color what we see and hear. No wonder many of us arrive at different interpretations of the same set of facts.
At least storytellers don’t claim to tell the truth. We just keep spinning the yarns and hope that we entertain the listener or reader. The question of course is, “who is the story teller and who isn’t?”
( 429 words)
Joseph Xavier Martin