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The Craft of Storytelling

Warming Up

Some tales can satisfy emotional needs, and others can favour intellectual interests.

Delicate tales may preserve Lustigkeit, a child's gladness, which rather much depends on. We all have a Child (a TA term) inside us. If not, death may be impending, for health depends on a healthy libido, (basic zest, joy of living, Lustigheit), not a few analysts will tell. It has been estimated that from 50, 60 and 75 and up to 90 and 95 percent of all doctor visits are for stress related problems. The alarming estimates vary considerably, and yet suggest that many common diseases can be quite psychosomatically tinged. To get it better, learn to deal well with stress, or, cater to the id (Child nature) by thriving in the first place, also in the work place and at home. There are many ways to do it. Pleasant surroundings and contacts are worth while, and fine tales, and so on. (AIS. "America's #1 Health Problem." The American Institute of Stress. Weatherford, TX)

A decent storyteller reflects the need to be steadily cautious in front of his audience, or in the face of unwanted disturbances. Traditional social gatherings in earlier centuries included storytelling, for people were fond of stories, then as now. Storytelling was for all, and common throughout many countries.

Sun talk

Confucius was wandering in the Eastern regions when he saw two children arguing about something, and asked what.

One of them said, "I think that when the sun rises it is nearer to people, and at noon it is farther away."

The other child thought it was nearer to people at noon and farther away when it rose.

The first child said, "When the sun first appears, it is as big as a wheel, but at noon, it is about the size of a tray. Isn't that because what is far away looks small and what is near looks big?"

The other child said, "When the sun comes first, it is cool, but at noon it becomes as hot as touching boiling water. Isn't that because what is near is hot and what is far away is cool?"

Confucius could not tell them which was right. The children laughed at him, saying, "Who decided that you were a wise man?"

Mature persons are rarely afraid to say so when they are not sure about a thing. Such an attitude may later prove very fruitful.

Vegetables, berries, and fruits

Having fun is vital for health and well-being, and knowing the difference between eatable and poisonous plants is vital too, if not imperative. Besides, some rather disagreeable vegetables, fruits, and berries may be made more eatable and up to delicious by how their processed. So being prestigous and solidly fit is hardly all there is to a good life. At times a good joke is a blessing. There are also blessings in disguise.

Some of Baron Munchausen's exploits may seem foolish enough. One of his tales speaks of vegetables on trees. A relative brought him with him in a voyage to Sri Lanka. On the way there was a storm where an old couple were caught when they were high up in the branches of a tree, "gathering cucumbers (in this part of the globe that useful vegetable grows on trees)." [Raspe, ch 1, p 24-25]

Now, the cucumber is really a fruit, and so is the pineapple, acorn, wheat, almond, squash, and water melon. Maybe you did not think that and therefore looked it up. Good!

The orange, on the other hand, is a berry, and so is the banana - and the apricot, aubergine, date, grapefruit, lemon, and tomato, to name some of them.

It is also true that all fruits are berries, and some fruits are vegetables.

Now you know more than many others, after you have checked this information well.

[EB, "fruit;" "vegetable farming;" "berry"]

The best men and women check before they believe lots of things.

Give graciously - even an onion. - Afghan proverb

Some Tales Are Interpretable

"Don't jump from the frying pan into the fire," is a proverb (see Fergusson and Law 2000). It suggests that one should refrain from doing anything drastic, rash, or desperate so as not to make things worse than they already are - something like that. There are other valid interpretations of this proverb too, which served Ricky Lynn Gregg in the country music hit "Get a Little Closer." (Folsom 1986-1996)

Tales called parables may talk across the ages. Buddha said, "I have taught the truth . . . But simple as it is, the people cannot understand it . . . I must adapt my thoughts to their thoughts . . . Therefore, I will tell them stories." Buddha parables have survived. [More]

Add to that: Flowering, figurative speech allows for being interpreted this way and that way, and "There are many valid interpretations of what is worth while," as John J. Sparkes writes [in Keegan 1993, 135]. Much depends on interpretation. [Gospel of Thomas, log. 1]

A savoury story may influence young ears deeply.

Not every welcomed tale is found to be good and decent

To deprive children of fit and savoury tales is to deprive them of present and future boons. Culture is maintained and passed on by stories, as Jerome Bruner tells - and Albert Einstein finds fairy tales to be good for coming scientists too [Zipes 1992, 1].

One question is: "What is a good tale? "Good" is such a baffling word." And "handy" and "welcome" are not exactly linked to "bad", but they can be. If we wince from handy goodness, from very welcome goodness, and outfit that serves our prestige and so on, it is not good at all. See a skeletal survey of what "good" can be here: [Link]

We should try to be worthy of respect, not just hanker after recognition, fame, or whatever. One way to get a measure of respect is by welcome developments of proficiency and skills and talents. The ability to interpret, evaluate and re-evaluate can be much developed through steps and stages in a long, on-going process called maturation. [Cf. Erikson's life stages].

Expect and encourage evolving maturation: Tales that relate to contemporary culture, reflect aspects of id (libido) functions around, and maybe shared by many, for good or bad or something else. Study and interpret so as to understand and relate well, if that can be.

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. - Sir Winston Churchill (encouraging)

Good warnings

A peak to find in very many contexts (settings and even situations) can be the handy and useful hints gathered. Many European stories are scaring and warning, and in part desensitising - granted that it does not pay to be scared stiff. A tiny tot that in merry settings is told stories of wolves, may get better prepared mentally to cope if meeting one or a dozen wolves alone. Half of the tales of European folklore warn people of dangers in old times - it may be against being taken in, against being too naive, fond of drinking, losing benefits, assets or good positions and worse. There are many examples. Here are four:

Three Little Pigs like to play, but soon learns they need protection, strong protection from a wolf. A brick house affords it.

Peter and the Wolf: Peter's grandfather scolds him for being outside in the meadow alone "Suppose a wolf came out of the forest?" Peter answers: "Boys like me are not afraid of wolves." All who are surrounded by many wolves could need such an attitude, and still take precautions.

Little Red-Cap (AT 333) is about a girl who is not to stray from a familiar path. A wolf, dresses as the girl's grandmother, lying in her bed after eating her. He wants to lure Little Red Cap into the house and eat her too.

Bluebeard (suitors that are dangerous) is about a wealthy, violent man who is in the habit of marrying and killing his wives, one after the other, and how his last wife avoids that cruel fate. After he is killed, she inherits his fortune and castle and remarries.

The misfortune of the foolish is a warning to the wise. - Latin proverb


Amused by Miracle Tales

Men and women may amuse themselves if safe.

Famous men and women of the Catholic Church are reported to have levitated and soared in the air. One source says a few hundred Christian saints have risen up into the air, but there seems to be little documentation.

St. Joseph (1603-63) is the patron saint of pilots and air passengers. He was the son of a poor carpenter and was made a friar. He became famed for prolonged suspensions in the air and high flights, often reaching the ceilings of cathedrals and the tops of trees. Seventy of his flights or levitations are officially recorded in the acts of his beatification. One of his biographers adds that this number does not count those which occurred daily at Holy Mass and generally lasted two hours. [◦Ref. A]

More about the Franciscan Joseph of Cupertino:

St. Joseph - in one basilica [church] he rose near the vaulted ceiling to kiss a picture of [Mother Mary] . . . Sometimes he even took passengers with him. Once, for example, inspired by a choir's hymns, Joseph caught up a confessor in front of a singing group of nuns and spun the man around in the air. - When the saint saw several friars struggling to lift a 36-foot cross for a Calvary they were building, he jetted 70 yards to their aid, picked up the cross "as if it were straw," and put it into place. [Source: Catholic Digest, "stories/9605102a"]

Consider the folk wisdom of "Seeing is believing" and "Twin fools: one doubts nothing, the other everything [American proverb]."

By unstintingly allowing a flow of fancy and tall tales, modern "miracles" of technology may come about in time. [Link]

Baron Munchausen recounts he once rode on a cannon-ball. Another time he lifted himself and the good horse he sat on, out of a quagmire by pulling his own hair until he saved himself and his horse. Some might say the funny tale paid handsomely. (Raspe 2012)

By contrast, fathers and mothers who spend more time a day in their cars than with their spouses and children hardly benefit family and children enough -


Storytelling benefits, Literature  

Zipes, Jack. Breaking the Magic Spell. Reprint. New York: Routledge, 1992.

Fergusson, Rosalind, and Jonathan Law. 2000. Dictionary of Proverbs. 2nd ed. London: Penguin Reference.

Folsom, Steven R. Dictionary of Proverbs in American Country Music Hits (1986-1996). Online.

Keegan, Desmond, ed. Theoretical Principles of Distance Education. London: Routledge, 1993.

Raspe, Rudolf Erich. 2012. The Travels and Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Reissue collection. London: Melville House.

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