Thursday, 24 September 2009

Story: What is it good for?

Absolutely... no, hang on, that's something else isn't it? A very short post in a brief attempt to be interactive. Stories, what are they actually for? Well obviously, for entertainment. And for telling us stuff in a way that actually affects us. But other than that? I've tried to come up with some other possibilities, and I hope you'll feel up to joining what (almost certainly won't be) an important debate.

  1. Preventing most bookshops these days from being just coffee shops.
  2. Keeping daydreaming artistic types in front of computers, rather than out on the street where they might bump into things.
  3. Effectively immobilising the world's avid readers, so that they're easy to find again once you've put them down.
  4. Preventing books from being big, blank, papery bricks.
  5. They mean that the illustrators don't have to fill up so much space.
  6. Using up the world's zombie/vampire surplus, so that we don't have to keep them under the stairs.
  7. Taking people whose main ability is to make things up, and calling it a job skill rather than simple oddness, thus reducing unemployment.


Agnieszkas Shoes said...

The main function of stories (for a moment I thought you meant "story" as in conflict & stuff and I had the eyeballs ready to roll!) historically, of course, is to bond communities together and give them a sense of identity. Not just foundation myths, but all stories are actually about communities working out who they are together, and storytellers are just people who help the conversation on its way.

Which is why the "lock themselves in an attic at a typewriter" kind of author exasperates me. A writer they may be (but so is a stenographer or amanuensis), but a storyteller they most certainly are not. Whatever self-delusion they may persist in.

stu said...

Possibly, and I suspect those are important uses. Though I'm also sure that wasn't the only function of stories in the past. My research on medieval vision literature suggested that it was used for a wide variety of functions.

I think there's occasionally an academic tendency to suggest that people in the past did things solely for big, serious reasons, when banal and/or frivalous ones might also do just as well.

englishcoach said...

On the unemployment theme: providing mental gymnasiums for academic twists and flips by professors of literature.

On the home front: making bedtime palatable; keeping mother sane (Winne the Pooh was always the preferable alternative to playing the drums on kitchenware, or worst of all, playing happy families with Barbie and Ken, ugh)

Preventing people from dying of boredom on long journeys.