minstrel:storytelling (longish, but what did you expect_/;{]}

Rex Deaver rdeaver at cgro.com
Wed Jul 30 08:43:49 PDT 1997


At 02:23 AM 7/30/97 -0400, TrueRhymer at aol.com wrote:
>Electric lights and television, while being a boon to mankind, have also been
>a bain.  We get into our cars, go to work, and come home, isolated, and not
>part of a larger community, or village. 

O, Kewl!  A philosophical discussion! :-)

To paraphrase, the fault lies not in our cars (or electric lights, or
televisions) but in ourselves. :-)  Or, to be more accurate, in the
*American* storytelling tradition.

>As they sat around the fire,
>they heard that "Jack shared his last crust of bread, with the hungry old
>woman, and she told him where the giant killing sword was." 

This is typical of European (and other culture's) storytelling
traditions...the hero is helped by companions/old women/children/animals/etc.  

American tradition, OTH, concentrates on the loner.  Daniel Boone in the
wilderness, Paul Bunyan hewing forests alone, John Henry singlehandedly
building the railroads, Pecos Bill taming the twister, the lone cowboy, the
trapper, Abe Lincoln's father who moved every time he saw the smoke from his
neighbor's fire.  

These never were reality, mind you, they were myth.  A useful myth, as well,
when building a nation from a huge, unpopulated continent.  When the need
was for people who could make a farm in a desolate place a day's ride or
more from the nearest community.  So the myth of the lone man, or at least
the lone nuclear family, became the cornerstone of the American legend.
Multi-generations, multi-ethnicities, multi-species...these all have little
or no part in the mythos.

All of which predates our technological society by some generations.   The
technology was put to the service of the myth, a job it has done admirably,
but is no more responsible for it than the wood is responsible for the fire.
The myth doesn't work so well in a time and place where you can barely walk
without stepping on someone's toes.  An older mythos is needed here, one
from a time and a place where people were closer together, and interdependent.  

So we have picked one, dusted it off, shined it up and taken it for our own.
As part of that, we  revive the stories of that mythos, or make new ones in
their image.  This is a Good Thing(tm).   But the storytelling tradition was
as much a servant of the other mythos as we expect it to be of this one.

Mathurin







> When you hear a story, where
>somebody describes a dragon, that dragon in your imagination is yours.  It is
>your creation.  It was created from all you bring to it.   In the "good old
>days" children would live and work around adults, learning by experience,
>what it is like to be a member of a community.  As they sat around the fire,
>they heard that "Jack shared his last crust of bread, with the hungry old
>woman, and she told him where the giant killing sword was."  What did this
>teach? Generosity? That old women could be wise or magical?  If young
>gang-bangers grew up talking around and telling stories around fires,
>learning from the wisdom and humor of stories, maybe we'd have less kids
>killing each other in the street.  As you read my missive, you miss my tone,
>my gestures, and I miss your's.  Nothing is a substitute for sitting around
>that fire, with friends and strangers.   I have heard and run storytelling
>events for the last 7 years, with wonderful stories from every type of
>culture and person.  And if I could pass on all the joy and laughter I've
>experienced, I would.  And when I go to war's, and show up to a fire, I try
>to act a gentleman, and not a boorish bard.  Sometimes you have to sing a few
>bawdy songs, and tell a few jokes before they will accept you.  Sometimes
>they never will.  But here it is, the cathedral of storytelling...a campfire,
>and an audience.  And sometimes in the quiet, with the crickets, and the fire
>popping, magic happens.  Everytime it does, I have gone full circle, and
>repaid those tired old storytellers of yore.  Many people join the sca to
>share in the magic.  But sometimes, they just don't know how.  I have
>wandered into camps full of drunk kids, and left them with a story...and the
>next day they wander by and say "hey, there's the storyteller- Will M'lord
>grace our fire tonight?"  It is a compliment to me, and the next
>bard/jongleur/minstrel who follows me will be meeting a receptive audience.
>   And yes Mikal, I teach storytelling.  And I try to not hurt anybodies
>feelings.
>(True) Thomas White Hart
>
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----
Rex Deaver
rdeaver at cgro.com	
"Fix the problem. Not the blame."


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