Posts tagged storytelling
And just as the marketing of a variety of processed foods turns the ostensible foodstuff into a delivery system for its additives, the story-processing that the Pixar list outlines turns movies into a delivery system for a uniform set of emotional juicings, and the result, whether for C.G.I. or for live-action films, is a sort of cyborg cinema, a prefabricated simulacrum of experience and emotion that feels like the nexus of pornography and propaganda.“The Problem with Processed Storytelling,” Richard Brody, The New Yorker, March 13, 2013.
Note: That is not the title of the NYT piece I am about to “” from.
About 10 years ago, in creative-writing classes I was teaching, I began to encounter a particular species of student story. The hero was an unshaven man who woke in a strange room with no idea where he was or why. Invariably, something traumatic had happened to him, though he didn’t know exactly what. The rest of the story sought to reconstruct his arrival in these dire circumstances, via scenes that had been chronologically mutilated for maximum profundity.
My standard reaction to such pieces was to jot earnestly flummoxed queries in the margins like “Where are we?” and “Is it possible I’m missing a page?” During office hours, I would confess that while I found the work ambitious, I didn’t entirely understand it. The student author would look at me with the sort of pity summonable only by a college sophomore and utter six dreaded words: “Have you seen the movie ‘Memento’?”
No, I would say, I hadn’t seen that one. They would then recite the plot of “Memento” while I sat quietly in my cubicle mulling suicide.
Ten years later, I continue to receive stories long on vivid camera work and short on coherence. These manuscripts all lack the same thing: an effective narrator.
“Once Upon a Time, There Was a Person Who Said, ‘Once Upon a Time’,” Steve Almond, NYT Magazine, Jan 11, 2013.
Good thing Steve Almond is already married so I can just admire the writing from afar and keep on paying my lifetime single tax (I will continue to refer to LST for at least another week. I’m still hoppin’ mad).
I always got that “Memento” was their “Bladerunner.” Most of their interesting narrators are zombies or vampires. That will mean something within ten years, I guess. (Makes thinking about the new “Gatsby” coming out this summer more intriguing.)
Wall Dogs: The Midair Muralists Who Paint New York
It’s 8am in Soho, the thermometer reads just above freezing, and the sky is bleak. Taxis splash down the streets; New Yorkers stride with their heads down, leaping over puddles, carelessly bumping into each other. Everyone wants to get out of the cold, out of the rain, into the warmth.
Ten stories above — on a long, skinny platform hanging from the facade of a building at Canal and Mercer in downtown Manhattan — it’s a different story. Climbers’ ropes secured around their torsos, Jason Coatney and Armando Balmaceda stand in a melange of open paint cans and brushes. These two muralists of Colossal Media, the largest hand-painted advertising company in America, are heavily layered in sweatshirts and raincoats. But in this industry, c’est la vie. Paintbrushes in their fingerless-gloved hands, earbuds in their ears — “I like to start out with Miles Davis in the morning,” Coatney smiles, his breath visible in the frigid air — they begin yet another workday in the sky.
Nice job, Storyboard. Really nice job.
The election is over, and it seems like now is as good occasion as ever to turn to poetry. Non? Who better to turn to than Elizabeth Alexander, the poet who wrote and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” at President Obama’s inauguration.
She sees poetry as providing the language that elevates and emboldens rather than demeans and alienates. And, despite these times when more and more of the world requires hard data and the certainty of facts, Ms. Alexander tells us what poetry works in us — and in our children — and why it may become more relevant, not less so, in hard and complicated times.
Trent Gilliss, senior editor
“What I try to explain is, even if I am drawing on personal experience, the truth of a poem is actually much deeper than whether or not something really happened. What matters is an undergirding truth that I think is the power of poetry.” - Elizabeth Alexander
A lie was something you told because you were mean or a coward.
A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened. Only you didn’t tell it like it was, you told it like you thought it should have been.
19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
Read the whole thing for a nice set of storytelling rules.
“ And this is why Louis CK’s comedy is dirty: the thoughts, as dark and natural as they may be, are put out of place. The secrets are told on stage in front of others, but it’s through that vocalization that we begin to understand ourselves and our relationship to the world we live in. Shame is diffused through its publication and distribution. Shame is reduced through its sharing. By pointing out the dirt, and realizing that the things themselves aren’t dirty but just out of place, we begin to see that the lines can be redrawn and order rethought. By voicing that shame, it allows one to assess if his or her thoughts or actions are worthy of that judgement, or if it is merely a casualty—dirt created by an ill-fitting standard.”
Thinking about telling secrets in public and how and why telling secrets in stories have power and resonance, especially right now.
This is from Dec 2011 on Frank Chimero’s wonderful blog.