THE POWER of the story to hold one’s attention is evident around us. Yet, many do not make full use of its ability to enthrall and engage.
In the beginning, storytelling was just entertainment to me, then I began to research and gain insights about story in a broader sense. Everything that we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell revolves around story. This primal thing going on in our brains allows us to enter other worlds, because the human brain is hard-wired for story.
Before electronic media became ubiquitous, people would sit around the evening fire where something very primal happens. The fire draws the imagination into the flames, and the story begins. Time in space is suspended, and nothing exists except the story.
The power of the storyteller is to draw the human soul into the vortex of story.
Stories Change Lives
One of things I’ve seen in my travels is how storytelling changes children’s lives. I have seen children who have ADD, ADHD, and Asperger’s who seem to go through a metamorphosis when they witness a live performance. Teachers at conferences and workshops describe behaviour-challenged children who are captive under the spell of a well-told story.
But, we have a battle today between the ancient art of storytelling and technology.
I am one of the proponents who believe that storytelling, as an ancient art form, will withstand the test of time. I don’t think there is anything that can supersede its influence on the human brain.
When Carl Jung developed his archetypes in psychology, he looked at the basics of where the human soul resides in the subconscious or unconscious mind. In his book The Power of Myth (Doubleday, 1988) and the subsequent PBS special with Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell saw these archetypes and described how mythology can carry us forward as a civilisation.
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Ray Kurzweil, a futurist, says that we have reached the apex of human evolution, that we have evolved as far as we can in human consciousness, and that we need to have computer chips put in our brains to carry us to the next millennium.
I don’t believe that for a minute. Kurzweil’s idea of trans humanism echoes such science fiction as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, futuristic books and movies of archetypal battles between good and evil, and humans verses cyborgs in computer games.
The Essence Of The Tale
When I am looking at folktales, fairytales, legends, myths, poetry and prose, there is an essence that I want to pull from each of those disciplines. It may not be apparent on the page, but I use my intuition to go into the printed page and glean things from the story that will enhance it and help its flow.
The key is for me to reach the listener in all three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. I want to help the visual learners visualise the story, the auditory learners experience the story through sound, and the kinesthetic learners through gesture and movement.
Also, as a creative device, I find and use metre, rhythm, and rhyme in the stories. And within that process I take the listener on a journey into recall, secrets, and imagery. This is not a mechanical process; it is very intuitive and is achieved through reflection and meditation.
I have found that I would rather write with pencil and paper in longhand than on a computer and have always wondered why. Then I discovered J.K. Rowling wrote her 37 Harry Potter series in longhand. She stated that her creative process would not flow any other way. When you think about Hogwarts, no one had a computer or a mobile phone. They had quill and parchment and were writing longhand like their creator.
I like to look at this as a metaphor for how human thought begins in the brain and goes through the arm and bleeds out onto the paper via the ink of a pen, or the lead of a pencil.
This is an excerpt from Head To The Sky — A Storyteller’s Journey Of Discovery, Bobby Norfolk’s memoir which was released in 2014. Bobby is a three-time Emmy winning storyteller of the show Gator Tales. He used to be a stand-up comedian and a park ranger before actively telling stories. He has co-authored eight children’s books.
Visit www.bobbynorfolk.com for more information on Bobby.
This article was originally published in STORM in 2014.
Main Image: Tatiana Akhmetgalieva / KannaA / Shutterstock.com