Telling a story is not like weaving a tapestry to cover up the world, it is rather a way of guiding the attention of listeners or readers into it. A person who can ‘tell’ is one who is perceptually attuned to picking up information in the environment that others, less skilled in the tasks of perception, might miss, and the teller, in rendering his knowledge explicit, conducts the attention of the audience along the same paths as his own.
Tim Ingold, “The Temporality of the Landscape”, World Archaeology, vol. 25, 1993, p. 153
Illustration based on a Buddhist image
Myth is a language made of timeless, not of momentary, forms. The themes [of performance improvised by Haida storytellers for anthropologist John Swanton] are not concocted for this occasion. They are original in a different sense. They are thousand- or ten-thousand-year-old stories put to current use; they renew the present world by rehearsing what is known of how the world came to be.
Robert Bringhurst, A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1999: 220
Inspired by the drawing of a shield found in a Greek vase.
I think that an interest in storytelling is part of our way of being in the world. It comes from our need to understand what has happened, what people have done, what they may do: the dangers, adventures, trials of all kinds. Where are not like stones, immobile, nor are we as flowers or insects, whose lives are preordained. We are beings for adventure. Man will never be able to give up listening to stories.
Mircea Eliade, La prueba del laberinto: Conversaciones con Claude-Henri Rocquet, traducción de J. Valiente Malla, Madrid: Ediciones Cristiandad, 1980, p. 159
Illustration inspired by the ceramic bowls of the Hausa people (Nigeria).
The intellectual nature of a story is exhausted with its text, but the functional, cultural, and pragmatic aspect of any native tale is manifested as much in its enactment, embodiment, and contextual relations as in the text. It is easier to write down the story than to observe the diffuse, complex ways in which it enters into life, or to study its function by the observation of the bast social and cultural realities into which it enters. And this is the reason why we have so many text and why we known so little about the very nature of myth.