Why spin tales, why listen to them, enact them on stage, dance them, ritualise them, read them, write them, re-write them? We tell stories to ourselves and each other, to entertain, inspire, amplify events, or in search for meaning.
When it comes to stories, fact-finders tend to miss the point. Too many sequential facts can befuddle a truth that lingers in the higher or deeper layers of consciousness, from where vital symbolic insights shine through a narrative.
We owe much to Joseph Campbell, who with life-long passion explored the origins of myths and their functions throughout human history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell
And check out these fantastic documentaries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Myth
A myth is a public dream – a dream is a private myth. – Joseph Campbell
In my psychotherapy practice, clients present their story in unique ways that occasionally include lucid dreams of past lives. I deeply respect the power of the imagination. In neutral mode, I listen. So it happens that a trauma set in thirteenth century Languedoc, when Cathars were branded as heretics and massacred by the Catholic Church, can deeply trouble a person’s psyche with visceral images. I travel along, and as the story is released, I may bridge the emotional resonance of a pattern to the present life of a client. In this process profound cognitions can soften a psychological complex.
Lasting examples of deeper truths are mirrored in Fairy-tales and myths, where basic patterns of our collective unconscious psyche are brought into relief. That is, if we can grasp the metaphors under the primary meaning of words. Fictional settings for heroic or anti-heroic characters are particularly suited to convey powerful emotional themes infused with archetypal elements.
… the spirit of an age is more essentially mirrored in its fairy-tales than in the most painstaking chronicle of a contemporary diarist … Raymond Chandler – Realism and Fairy-land
Some religions persist in the literal truths of their sacred texts. Scientists, too, get stuck in dogma, but I emphasize more with the frustration of the latter, since, with the courage of doubt, scientists have pushed the horizon of knowledge outwards by painstakingly reading the book of nature through the language of data, evidencing processes poets and mystics before them intuited, but physical eyes cannot perceive – like radiations other than light. I’m trying to overcome the conflict of the scientist and poet in me. They interpret the world in different but equally significant ways. There is a need to read nature in both languages, so greater understanding and tolerance can develop.
‘With faith one attains and realises peace and harmony. With doubt one destroys and gains freedom to move ontowards.’ – Fazal Inayat-Khan
Memory, objectively true, or false, affects our lives every day. Stories lodged in the heart endure in a timeless dimension of the imagination. We can however alter their interpretation by exploring our perspective, be it from a pit of fatalism, a sense of insecurity, a belief in magic, faith in divine guidance, or the certitude of natural laws. Even the simple acceptance of life’s continuous dynamic change can shift the meaning of our stories, and, of course, it helps to overcome literal mindedness and make an effort to decipher the metaphors.
‘The mystical warrior is trying to reduce the obstruction in the doorway, and the worshipper is attempting to reach the construction behind the doorway, almost out of sight. There is a gap between the two … the vague band between the known and the unknown. In that band rapture is possible.’ – Fazal Inayat-Khan
Stories are the sap of life nourishing the roots and branches of humanity. We spin stories because during the birth of this universe the symmetry between matter and antimatter was broken, kicked out of balance, which resulted in a slight predominance of matter, the stuff we bump into. It’s a poignant thought that this little quirk caused the dynamic asymmetry that evolved into the universe we live in. Without this asymmetry between matter and antimatter our world would be empty, there would be light only – sans elements, sans plants, sans animals, sans night, sans saints, fools, villains – sans consciousness – no story.
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For those interested in nuclear physics:
5 responses to “… why spin tales? …”
Very good. That science too creates myths, arguments, language. Saw this article just recently, about a family lost in Siberia for 40 years. From the article: “The family’s principal entertainment, the Russian journalist Vasily Peskov noted, ‘was for everyone to recount their dreams.'” Thought you might be interested. Campbell is so amazing. Thanks for that reminder!
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/For-40-Years-This-Russian-Family-Was-Cut-Off-From-Human-Contact-Unaware-of-World-War-II-188843001.html#ixzz2KAr51bEV
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Hi Joe, yes, I read the article of this amazing family when it made the rounds on facebook. Touching that … ‘Well, since you have travelled this far, you might as well come in.’
I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall when they shared their dreams.
Have you heard of the dream-sharing culture of the Malaysian Senoi? – http://www.malaysiasite.nl/senoieng.htm
Their society was free of crime and mental illness. Every morning the entire family discussed their dreams.
sharing dreams is a wonderful experience and it is a wonder to me that it would seem that there have always been stories. Again thank you for such a thought provoking post. – Diane
Thanks, Diane. Yes, it seems as long as we can remember there has been a need to share overlapping realities of experiences through retelling, including dreams, and during that process bring (create) past and the future into the now. Multiple stories make a many-faceted mirror that reflects humanity back to itself.
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