The World is Made of Stories…

I love the poet, Muriel Rukeyser, because she understood that “the world is made of stories, not atoms”.You don’t have to be a poet to understand this, but it helps. Have a look around. Stories are a force of nature. We didn’t evolve from apes; we sprang into life, full-blooded and thoroughly anxious, embodied by “tales of the tribe”.

Story is our essence, the source and expression of every dream, dread, vision, death, birth and discovery. Our humanity and inhumanity is rooted in it, tangled in the mystery of “how come?” and the suspense of “what next?”

When James Joyce was asked where he came up with the stories that inhabited his books, he gestured round the pub: “from that couple over there, and those men by the door, and that woman washing up behind the bar…”

Story is Nature’s way of becoming conscious of itself, and as storytellers we work with it in order to become conscious of ourselves. One writes a story to find out why one is writing it, and in the process discovers that the story is writing us as much as we are writing it.

This issue of THE GROUP was meant to be an exploration of screen storytelling, but alas – it has taken on a life of its own. What is common to all the contributors in this issue is their willingness and ability to “enter the drama”, and through that courage to offer their audience a chance to enter it as well.

Many of the writers, artists, filmmakers and poets that appear in this issue work as “mediums”. To work as a medium is not so much a matter of what an artist does, as what he/she doesn’t do; it is akin to the Chinese idea of wu-wei (non-action), a concept that denotes effortlessness, spontaneity, or what Chuang Tzu refers to as “flowing”. It is the ability of getting out of the way and letting the event, emotion, experience express itself-as-itself.

Every well-told story and poem flows, as does the act of every artist when he/she operates “mediumistically”. The art of flowing, requires that the artist/writer get out of the way. A dramatist must become “empty”, unobtrusive, so that the characters can become whatever the characters are, so that that which is yet-to-be can come into being, allowed to birth itself through the agency of the storyteller-made-medium.

Indeed, one might say that unless a story – or any work of art – is birthed in this manner it can have no lasting raison d’être, and as such, cannot endure.

– Billy Marshall Stoneking. From “The Group Online Magazine”, to be found here.

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~ by revolutionwithin on November 3, 2009.

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