In Malay, pengiluar lara, ‘Dispeller of Worries’, is the praise-name for the storyteller who possesses the art of enthralling his listeners. In the course of centuries, the Malay storyteller developed and refined his art until it became the very expression of the swift movement of the prince’s horse; the snake’s winding coils; the heavenly nymph flying through the sky, bright and golden. Inimitable are the images that are strewn across Malay tales.
Jan Knappert, Mythology and Folklore in South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, 1999 p. 195
Drawing inspired by a rock art painting of Kakadu, Australia
To be a self, one must also be nothing. To know oneself, one must be able to know nothing. The asomnics know the world continuously and immediately, with no empty time, no room for selfhood. Having no dreams, they tell no stories and so have no use for language. Without language, they have no lies. Thus they have no future. They live here, now, perfectly in touch. They live in pure fact. But they can’t live in truth, because the way to truth, says the philosophers, is through lies and dreams.
Ursula K. LeGuin, “Wake Island”, Changing Planes, New York: Harcourt, 2003, pp. 164-165
Illustration inspired by an Inuit drawing
‘We are stories.’ It’s a notion so simple even a child could understand it. Would that it ended there. But we are stories within stories. Stories within stories within stories. We recede endlessly, framed and reframed, until we are unreadable to ourselves.
Ivan Vladislavic, 101 Detectives: Stories, Cape Town: Umuzi, 2015, p. 147
Illustration inspired by a traditional drawing from Rwanda