By chance I stumbled upon a TED playlist with the title: The Truth About Stories. http://blog.ted.com/2011/08/17/playlist-the-truth-about-stories/
This immediately recalled Thomas King’s Massey Lectures that carry the same title. Having thoroughly enjoyed King’s work, and since the phrase continues to give me a great deal to ponder, I was pulled in to watching the first talk on the playlist. As Elif Shafak’s nearly twenty minutes of speaking unfolded I was pulled deeper and deeper in. I am fortunate to know a few excellent storytellers, and to call them friends. As she speaks I started to make connections to them, their stories, to language, to education, to writing, to travel, and to community. There are a few constructive criticisms if you read the comments about her talk, and while these are valid, they also highlight that her talk gives us something tangible and credible to discuss, even in the counter points. Perhaps that is a sign of good storytelling.
I enjoyed the first so much I continued on to the second by Chimamanda Adichie: The Dangers of a Single Story. I soon made connections to Binyavanga Wainaina’s work, my time in Kenya this summer conversing with people about perception, and to theme of this blog: balance. Perhaps another sign of good storytelling is weaving a tapestry that allows the listener or reader to make numerous personal connections. Both of these first two talks in the playlist certainly did for me, and when they struck at balance I felt like sharing them with you.
The third talk has some interesting ideas and allows Jonathan Harris to share some very interesting projects, but I do not find it as compelling as the first two. I will let you be the final judge.
I encourage you to at least watch the first two – it’s a better way to spend 38 minutes or so than watching some reality TV this evening, and I do not doubt you will make some tangible and personal connections of your own.
Finally, listen and watch for two quotes in particular that strike at balance. They both made me smile, and reaffirmed that storytelling – from all sides – is valuable on a number of levels.
Shafak quotes Chekhov: “The solution to the problem and the correct way of posing the question were two completely separate things.”
Adichie ends with: “When we reject the single story, when we realize there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.”