Stories matter to me. I believe the difference between history and heritage is the way we tell the story and that, oddly, there is more story in ‘heritage’ than in ‘history’.
I have recently found these two short but big quotes from men far wiser than I. They pack more thought into 20 words than I do in 200. Both quotes are about why the phenomenal use of stories across all media is so powerful and how deep it goes.
The first is from one of the American writers I most admire:
“We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say – and to feel – ‘Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel it.’ You’re not as alone as you thought.”
When we talk about ‘connecting’ to heritage or to place, maybe that is what we really mean.
The second is more contemporary:
We are the first generation bombarded with so many stories from so many authorities, none of which are our own. The parable of the postmodern mind is the person surrounded by a media center: three television screens in front of them giving three sets of stories; fax machines bringing in other stories; newspapers providing still more stories. In a sense, we are saturated with stories; we’re saturated with points of view. But the effect of being bombarded with all of these points of view is that we don’t have a point of view and we don’t have a story. We lose the continuity of our experiences; we become people who are written on from the outside.
And, in my view, that is why we must engage communities in telling, writing and creating their stories.
Interpretation is about liberating new stories as well as retelling the old.
All pictures thanks to Peter Phillipson. For more go to Peter’s Flickr stream. Follow Peter @ TellTalePeter on Twitter.