Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Now that's a mission statement

There's a new Center for Future Storytelling at MIT.  Their mission?  To "keep meaning alive."

For the record, I don't think traditional storytelling is on its last breath. Not in the slightest. 

 I think this because my son sprawled on the couch reading 1984 last night. "This book is awesome," he said, and then we got into a discussion about Oceania and who and what it controls. The other week, I heard belly-laughs emanating from the basement. The culprit? Slaughterhouse Five.  Yes, he plays Guitar Hero and other video games. He reads mostly for AP English, not for fun. He's a typical technology-laden boy. But when he does read, he responds to literature with a keenness that tells me story RULES.

There's also today's post at GuysLitWire about a thirteen-year-old's lasting impression of reading Philip K. Dick on a camping trip.  My favorite line? "The whole of Dick's work wobbles between modern day prophet and bat-**** crazy.

I'm all for new ways to tell stories. I just don't think that means that the old ways are dead.


  1. former chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment who contends that traditional narrative — the kind with unexpected twists and satisfying conclusions — has been drowned out by noise and visual clutter.

    Oh, my goodness; all this fuss over movies, as if they're the only purveyor of stories. Bah, I say. Story is alive and well and people still love it. Just because the direction is somewhat new doesn't mean it's not still story -- and that the stories have no meaning.

    MIT sails in to save the day, though. Because that's what they DO.

    Going to take my cranky self elsewhere.

  2. I'm with you on that, Sara. I also have a teenage "technology-laden boy" and it makes my heart sing when I see him involved in a good book. :-)

  3. Was it Jerome Bruner who said "trouble is the engine of story"? (Or am I getting that horribly wrong?). Since we'll always have troubles in this topsy-turvy world, we'll always have our stories...especially as a way to console one another, to commiserate, to make one another laugh.

  4. My nine year old LOVES his video games, but thankfully he loves his books, too!
    I found you on the Comment Challenge! Great blog, love your profile picture on the post-its!

  5. Um, what the HECK are they talking about? Story (and meaning) are doing fine, thank you very much. Maybe they're worried about HOW we tell stories, and that their investments are all in the OLD ways of telling stories and they're worried they'll be left out in the cold by the wave of the new, but that's not at all about MEANING or STORY. That's about money.

    Sheesh. And that ridiculous line of how they blame "outside" stories like "Harry Potter" for the demise of stories with meaning on film is so absurd.

    Books have survived movies. And movies, probably, will survive whatever's next. Everyone wants a good story, right?


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