Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More Visual Storytelling

About a week ago, we had a post about a sandpainter/storyteller from the Ukraine. She tells visual stories in front of live audiences using sandpainting, charcoal and similar materials. Publishers Weekly now has a post about the same artist with two sandpainting videos. That post has the same YouTube video as our previous post, but includes a new story as well. In addition, the PW post has a video of an amazing Aussie shadow puppeteer on the Letterman Show, doing a rendition of a Louis Armstrong song, "What a Wonderful World."

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Storytelling Via Sandpainting

Here is an extraordinary talent at work telling a vivid story via sandpainting to a live audience. She is Kseniya Simonova, a contestant in a Ukrainian version of a "Got Talent" reality TV show. The link provides the background information and a link to a YouTube video of her performance. The sandpainting tells the story of Germany's defeat of the Ukraine in WWII. Turn on the sound because it is an important element of the story.

This video has had a lot of traction on the Internet, but if you haven't seen it, it's worth a look (several minutes).

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

New Scientist: Gravity and Storytelling

There is a sort of gravity in good storytelling that pulls a reader towards the conclusion, but this post is not about how gravity affects storytelling. It is about gravity and separately about storytelling.

Gravity is so much a part of science fiction...mostly how to sneak past it. Yes, Newtonian physics describes its effects adequately for practical uses, and quantum physics has a placeholder for it in the form of gravitons, but what is it? That still eludes physicists. New Scientist has easily understood, concise (about 300 words) articles on each of seven aspects of gravity: What is it? Why does it only pull? Why is it so weak? Why is it so fine-tuned (friendly towards life)? Why does life need it? Can we counter it? Will quantum theory ever explain it?

We've had quite a few posts on storytelling, including these: 1 2 3. Here are three from New Scientist, which mostly look at storytelling from an evolutionary perspective, storytelling ape (a.k.a. The Science of Discworld II: The Globe by Terry Pratchett), origins of storytelling, and storytelling shaping human minds.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Entangled Narratives: Competing Visions of the Good Life

Below are some teaser snippets from William Grassie's essay on competing cultural visions, which are strongly tied to humans' natural tendency towards storytelling. Click here for the full essay. This article is from the Global Spiral, the eMagazine of the Metanexus Institute.

"...Narratives are not just a matter of individuals creating their inner and social Self; narratives are also what bind societies and cultures together...Much of cultural transmission was in the form of storytelling. Today, people are more likely to gather around the cool glow of the television, but we are no less storied creatures...we make moral judgments based on the analogical applications of powerful stories...The most important stories that humans tell, retell, and reframe are...referred to as “metanarratives”. These master stories are the stuff of ideologies, religions, and cultures.


"Christian Smith...offers a dozen examples of contemporary metanarratives, each presented in about two hundred words – the Christian narrative, the Militant Islamic Resurgence narrative, the American Experiment narrative, the Capitalist Prosperity narrative, the Progressive Socialism narrative, the Scientific Enlightenment narrative, the Expressive Romantic narrative, the Unity with Brahman narrative, the Liberal Progress narrative, the Ubiquitous Egoism narrative, and the Chance and Purposeless Narrative...There is no simple way to adjudicate between these competing worldviews and world doings.


"The question I want to explore in this essay, how does one intellectually adjudicate between competing metanarratives, understanding that these are then fundamental in structuring our thought and behavior in many profound ways, both political and personal....I turn to the field of hermeneutics to try to find a way out of the relativistic impasse...."

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Storytelling and Reading

What does Grand Theft Auto, Twitter and Beowulf have in common? Storytelling is changing but still vital, says Sam Leith. One of the players in this change is MIT Media Lab's Center for Storytelling. But this slightly long-in-the-tooth story asks if we are still reading?

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