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August 6, 2010

The Sacrament Of Story

Filed under: Arts,Culture And Society — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 8:05 pm

The ability to story tell is fundamental to the human condition. In many ways it probably differentiated us from other hominids and allowed us to prevail in our ecological niche. This idea is hinted at in the human palaeontological record but there isn’t enough data to empirically prove it yet.

So with story, our sense of bonding was raised above and beyond that of preening, survival and reproduction. It allowed us to carry shared adventures and history across time and space. It firmly established the notion of culture around our early camp fires, and also let us know what others were thinking and feeling – i.e. it seeded empathy. Story did all this, in spite of the fact that our ancestors may have never met the people it described. It even allowed early humans to relate to people who had never existed. Of course, complex language was the precursor to story and without language (externalised thought), story would never have happened.

On a personal note, I find story and the places where story is told almost sacrosanct. For me, its forums are as hallowed as the life filled rainforest or the life giving liturgy. This perception has been with me for years and I often feel that something has been defiled, a sacred place desecrated, when developers shut down and demolish theatres and cinemas. This is something we are especially good at in the greater city of Brisbane – which now has no theatres left in the CBD!

In addition to this, as I’m descended from a long line of story tellers, I’ve been indoctrinated with its basic structure from a very young age. i.e. That story has to have a beginning, middle and end – otherwise what’s the point! Many supposed story tellers don’t understand these basics. i.e. in movies for example, some directors like to leave out crucial parts, like endings! What really upsets me about this approach is that my wife and I often hand over our hard earned cash to these film makers who don’t understand their own craft. Take “Inception” for instance which has the ultimate “artsy” non-ending! What sort of smart alec is this director Christopher Nolan who chose to finish the movie in this way? If we wanted to not have an ending to a story, we would tell each other such nonsensical tales for free! If someone pays you to tell a story, you have a moral obligation to do just that, otherwise give the patron back their money and stop masquerading as a modern day bard!

Despite the people who don’t understand the sanctity of story and story structure, there are many more story tellers who do. For those of us who cannot live without the telling of tales (each and every day of our lives), I am eternally grateful that the Christopher Nolans of the world are still the exception not the rule.

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

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