… how stories give shape and substance to the world and how they give it meaning and value; how they bring us close to the real world by keeping us at a distance from it; how they hold people together and at the same time keep them apart; how they are both true and not true.
J. E. Chamberlin and Levi Namaseb, “Stories and songs across cultures”, Profession, 2001, p. 25
Illustration inspired by a Turkish banner
Yes, of course, some people tell stories one way, some another. Perhaps it is because people sometimes separate for a while and still go on telling stories. But in all these stories about the old time, people use different words and names for the same things. There are many different ways to talk. Different people just have different minds.
!Unn /obe, storyteller of the Ju/’hoansi, in the Kalahari; Megan Biesele, Women Like Meat: The Folklore and Foraging Ideology of the Kalahari Ju/’hoan, Johannesburg: Witswatersrand University Press, 1993, p. 66
Illustration inspired by a drawing of a turtle from the Mimbres Culture
It is true that storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it, that it brings about consent and reconciliation with things as they really are, and that we may even trust it to contain eventually by implication the last word which we expect from the ‘day of judgement’.
Hanna Arendt, “Isak Dinesen, 1885-1962”, in Isak Dinesen, Daguerrotypes and Other Essays, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979, p. xx; Arend’s essay on Dinesen was first published in 1968.
Illustration based on a Buddhist image.
The tale is an invention; the song, the truth. (Russian proverb).
Russian proverb, Jakobson «On Russian Fairy Tales», appendix to A. N. Afanas’ev, Russian Fairy Tales, traducción de Norbert Guterman, Nueva York: Pantheon, 1945, p. 649.
Illustration inspired by the art of the people Klickitat the northwest coast of America.
When I returned from Berdichov after Chanukah in the winter of 5570 (1810), the Rebbe told me that he had a story to tell.
He said, ‘This tale has only been told once before, and this was before Solomon’s temple was built. The only ones who understand it were the prophet who told it and the one to whom it was told. Even the other prophets could not fathom it.
Although this story has already been told once, it is now a totally new concept. Many things have changed since it was last told. It was told once before in accordance with that time, but now it must be told in accordance with the present” (Rabí Aryeh, editor, Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom, Jerusalén: Breslov Research Institute, 1973, p. 340).
Rabí Aryeh, editor, Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom, Jerusalén: Breslov Research Institute, 1973, p. 340.
Illustration inspired by the art of the Pazyryk culture.