The Source of Stories


We're on the last day of National Poetry Month and here I am thinking about stories.

Like many people this month, I've been doing daily writing sessions. Actually, just the last week and a half or so—the group I'm writing with starts in earnest in May, but some of us started in conjunction with the counting of the Omer, the ritual period between Passover and the feast of Shavuot. It's not that I'm observant or anything, but writing seems to have the power to sanctify any time you dedicate yourself to it. I said about as much in my first short extract I produced.

I feel it more now than I ever did before: that I am one with the writing, that everything that I do flows into the writing and that writing is more of what I do than ever. I type that now and it seems more like an affirmation or a mantra than a factual statement, but it's true. If people still used typewriters (and I know people still do type on typewriters, I mean if they really used typewriters) I could say that the way I feel now is like a typewriter, happily kicking my legs out and getting dirty footprints all over the page with meaning. I'm not sure what digital analog there is. The text piles up, but it definitely doesn't smudge.

In Italo Calvino's if on a winter's night a traveler, there is a character named the Father of Stories who is the source of all stories that we tell. A blind indigenous storyteller who sits at a fire spinning a bullroarer over his head. It’s obviously a comic interpretation of the kind of belief that Joseph Campbell puts forward in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Masks of God, that we are all just reworking the same source material that we have been retelling since the earliest days of human culture. But I may be mistaken about the bullroarer because I’m conflating the Father of all Stories character with Bullroarer, a character from the X-Men comic books, an blind Aboriginal Australian and mutant who, by spinning his bullroarer, was able to create portals that could transport the X-Men wherever they needed to go during the period that they lived in hiding in Australia. That the X-Men could have spent a good portion of the 90s living in Australia feels like one more piece of evidence for the existence of such a source of all stories, that anything can happen, and that it's possible, if you're listening close enough, to hear some of them.

[ "illuminate slowly" by dakdad is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 ]

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