The Art of Story Telling

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Контент 18+ Once upon a time, back when dinosaurs still prowled the earth, I was a little boy who lived with his grandparents. It was a nice enough childhood, as childhoods go, and if I have any bitter memories, they do not concern my family members. (Which I why I still don't understand why I murdered them all with an axe !.......Joke. Sorry)

One of the best things was when my grandmother would tell me stories before I went to sleep. I don't know how it is today -- do parents make their kids go to bed at a certain time? Or do families all sit together and play video games the whole night through?. For me, at ages 7-8-9, as I recall, bed-time was no later than 9 o'çlock. We lived in a big house at the dipping end of a dead-end street up in the hills of Charleston, West Virginia, and I knew that there were monsters inhabiting the deep forest below and beyond our house. Not to mention the tics and spiders and snakes.
So I was a light sleeper, and just dropping off was always a big problem. But it helped when Grandma told me a story. I would climb into bed and she would come and sit on the edge of it and spin me tales about "Monkey-Up and Monkey-Down". And there was one about a dark, snowy village where some cunning little fellow committed a murder and escaped by hiding his footprints within the footprints of the village giant, who got blamed for the crime. Something like that. (It took my fifty years to realize that HIS little footprints would still have been visible, but, what the hell, such is the magic of stories.)

I was enthralled. I always had the gift of entering the world of the story and locking the real world behind my back. Maybe people engage in this today by disappearing into cyber space. Personally, I think it has to do with an apparently universal urge we all have to take part in a game called "Anywhere but Here!" The fantasy replaces the reality and is actually better. Is it sad or what? Who cares?
But even as a kid, I preferred reality-based material; I was never a science fiction buff. I liked real stories about real-sounding people. And it wasn't long before I was smuggling books and a flashlight under my blanket to read in the dead of night when I couldn't sleep. (I was also afraid of the dark, you see...) Anyway, that's how I got to know Jack London and Edgar Allen Poe.

I found that I also liked songs which told a story, like old sad Celtic ballads. All the "shing-a-ling-a-ling" and "shooby-do-be-do" rubbish was to me, for the most part, nothing more than an auricular laxative. And when I went to live in England (where I met Welsh, Irish, and Scottish folk as well), I learned how funny jokes could be if they were told properly. American humor is usually about a pie in the face or a kick in the cunt, but British humor was sharp and subtle. There is an art to it, you see: the art of story-telling. Has someone ever told you a joke that should have been funny and wasn't? And when the teller got to the punch line and ruined it, there was this strained pause among the listeners -- as when a group is posing for a photograph and the photographer can't get the camera to that the picture is taken just at the precise moment when all the sunny, fake smiles have dissolved into a kind of WTF? squint, as though they are all staring at a giant cockroach which has crawled up in front of them?

Today, people don't tell jokes because they don't know how. They simply post them on You-Tube.
I remember TV programs in the America of the 50's and 60's where the stories and scripts were really great. There was an old "Western" (they don't make them anymore for fear of offending the Native Americans -- who back then were known as "Indians") and this series was called "Dodge City." To me, the characters were absolutely real. It was almost a shock when the program ended and the commercials came on. I don't see much TV anymore, especially not American TV, but the last time I checked there were no real stories or characters -- just Bay Watch types spouting idiotic one-liners.

In Russia, the great films are those old Soviet masterpieces which take forever to watch but are wonderfully evolved and worth the time. Even without understanding most of the Russian, I can tell. Those films are the real deal. Most contemporary stuff is just blood-gushing and special effects, spliced together with quick fucky-wuckies involving 'beautiful people'
Nowadays, it seems that the real story-telling does not take place around campfires or at the edge of a bed, but rather in conspiracy theories and fake news. I also find it fascinating -- in a kind of stupefying way -- that, whereas in the past the bloody tale that is Human History was woven together by clues, small bits of fact, and a lot of imagining, now we have so much information that nobody knows what to do with all of it. Before. living records were often sparse, and historians needed to be both great detectives and convincing story-tellers. That's why nobody, to this day, knows if there was ever a King Arthur or a Robin Hood.

But neither do they know who poisoned those Russians in London recently. Nor why Nemtsov was killed. Nor if Boris Berezovsky really hanged himself or not.
In my opinion, the best modern day story tellers are the conspiracy theory honchos. I love the way they blithely ignore most of the facts in order to string together some really marvelous pieces of fiction. They do it with the same deftness that many husbands and wives manipulate their account of events to suit their own version of the truth.

In summary, I am pretty sure that all of human history is simply One Great Fiction. The difference is that in the past, most of the Liars, official or unofficial, were a lot more entertaining. Story Telling -- like the circus, like becoming a vagabond and riding the rails, like lengthy courtship before the bone-jumping begins -- has become an anachronism. Which is to say, a thing of the past.

===Eric Richard Leroy===

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