Blogger pro tip #27: If you want to know if the people who subscribe to your blog actually read it, tell them about something very difficult, like a parent dying, and see how many respond. I was deeply touched by the responses of care and love from so many readers after yesterday’s post. Thank you.
The German philosopher, cultural critic, and essayist, Walter Benjamin, said that the novel is actually a break from storytelling. Only possible because of the printing press, it took storytelling from the worker peasants and the tradespeople in the marketplace to the middle class, where stories became independent, isolated experiences.
Storytelling is born in the oral tradition and does not depend on the printed word. Acclaimed poet, novelist, and teacher, Ocean Vuong, says we carry our stories in our body, editing them each time we tell them. What we have, by the time someone tells a story they’ve been carrying for a while, is a masterclass of form, technique, concision, imagery – even how to pause.
Language is not always a fixed, clear pane of glass through which meaning is transmitted. Glass changes, stains, drips, warps – as does language.
Our stories contain our history. They are both the products and the progenitors of how we understand the world and ourselves in it.
Perhaps we would do well to stop telling the young (and even ourselves) that the future is in their hands. We have to articulate the world we want to live in, first.
The future is actually in our mouths.
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