Call to mind the earliest memories from your childhood, and you most likely recall stories, planted in your mind like seeds. Over time they grow, and each re-telling at Thanksgiving dinner becomes a trip down memory lane. Stories permeate more than just our memories; the thoughts and feelings we have regarding moral conduct were formulated within the confines of stories, moral fables used to shape us into assimilated adults and citizens.
Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the truth in a story, or whether there is any truth at all, like Moses and the Pharaohs or Cupid and Psyche. In bookstores these stories would not be found in the non-fiction section, but I know that at one point in time they governed all of society as a dogmatic truth. One wonders when, in the life of a story, it changes from fact to fable, or rather when the audience merely stops believing a presentation of truth.
If the former, one must then consider what else has changed; have the elements of the story been manipulated to make it more memorable, intended to survive many generations? Is honesty lost in order to make the story entertaining and sustaining? We chose to believe Journalists, as storytellers, to they tell the truth, so if the latter is the case, should the focus of the journalist be to make news more appealing, or rather call for a revitalization of sensitization?
I feel that I am rambling, maybe spinning down a questionable spiral, so I will simply tell you what I know. Because I have read the Bible, I know that Jesus Christ died on the cross and the Gospels tell four versions of the events of that day. I know that eyewitness testimony no longer carries as much weight in a courtroom as it used to, studies having shown that memories can be inaccurate and misremembered, like the tryptophan-induced story we are sure we remember like it was yesterday. In a 1970’s study, psychologists proved that, without the premise of perjury, eyewitnesses would add or subtract details from car accidents, effectively telling an untruth. There is no completely unbiased witness, storyteller, or listener.
Despite this, I want to tell stories to whoever will listen, and I am hoping that a few do, about the world and the events around us. I would like to tell stories without motive, without fear of missing truths or straightforward lies. As naive as it sounds, hopefully there will be no need to add agenda. Good deeds make fewer headlines than villainous, and I would like to remind the world that there is decency out there.
The invitation to my undergraduate senior show touted the line: “I invite you to consider the story.” I displayed photographs taken of sets that I designed and constructed, imitations of places I have traveled and things I have seen, with motifs of storytelling apparent. Like Plato said, we never really create anything but imitations of that which God has already created for us, so I resign myself to the telling of His creations. We are nothing if not storytellers, for without stories there would be no connections between people, places and things, no motivation from one day to the next; we let stories imbed themselves to forge connections and be the link to the world around us. I became a storyteller the moment I first strung together words, and I dedicated my life to it when I decided to study photojournalism.