Tag Archives: Myth

The Academy Award Winning Trailer (and what it says about Story Fatigue)

15 Apr

In his book Story, Robert McKee exhorts his readers to write stories, because the world needs storytelling and there is greater demand than ever before.

For me, McKee’s evangelical fervor vacillates between inspiring and eye-rolling, but I do agree with most of what he is saying here: Human beings need stories–individually and collectively–and due to a growing number of entertainment pathways (as more TV channels means more shows and movies-of-the-week, as the intarwebz finds its place, as the gaming business outstrips them all) there is increased need for storytellers and different types of storytelling.

I suspect there’s a flip side of this for viewers: story fatigue. By way of explanation, check out this hilarious parody trailer for an imaginary Academy Award-winning film.

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Good Writing Makes Sense of the World

25 Feb

I’ve often heard it said that the act of writing helps us make sense of the world.  I quoted Alan Watts yesterday, who says that myth serves the same purpose. Ever since I received D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths as a child, I’ve been drawn to them. As a friend pointed out in the comments, the short piece I posted a few days back, The Body is a Fairy Tale, is a creation story.

Arguably, all good stories help us make sense of the world. The stories I’m drawn to often also illuminate and reveal a particular environment, culture, or time and place. They’re not necessarily mythic, but they’re as much about a specific society or subculture as they are about an individual character. When they’re well done, they pull you in and make you care about that world, while at the same time reflecting back on your own.

Here’s a short list of stories that I love that fit the bill, some of which have elements of myth and fairy tale.

Chinatown (Robert Towne, screenplay)
The Wizard of Oz (Frank L. Baum, novel)
Arcadia (Tom Stoppard, play)
In the Skin of A Lion (Michael Ondaatje, novel)
The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, screenplay)
Dogeaters (Jessica Hagedorn, novel)
Network (Paddy Chayefsky, screenplay)
A Disappearing Number (Complicite Theatre, devised play)
His Dark Materials Trilogy (Phillip Pullman, novels)

What myths, creation, subculture stories do you enjoy? Have you ever tried to write a creation myth?

Words, Words, Words: Good Quotes…On Myth

24 Feb


A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world.

Alan Watts

It is a myth, not a mandate, a fable not a logic, and symbol rather than a reason by which men are moved.

Irwin Edman

MYTHOLOGY, n. The body of a primitive people’s beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.

Ambrose Bierce, from The Devil’s Dictionary