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The Oldest Profession – Not That One!

March 25, 2014

Songman W=234xH=190 

Long before lawyers, prior to the priesthood, millennia before that misnamed 'oldest' service, one professional was treasured by all in his tribe, even though he 'toiled not, neither did he spin.' In a time before memory...

People of ancient times huddled around the campfire and watched the orange flames of light flicker on the face of the Storyteller. In modern times, story comes to us through a great variety of media.

Picasso never lost sight of the power of Story. Only think of his incandescent protest against the futile brutality of war in 'Guernica.' Or the psychological power of his series based on the ancient myths of the Minotaur. It seems to me that all forms of art are servant to the Story. Let me show you why I think that.

  • The Movie: This has to be the most perfect art form, I think. It combines all the classic forms, embellished by the many technological innovations now available and who knows what wonders yet to come. Yet, without a Story, there is no movie.

 

  • The Novel: Attempts have been made to produce a novel devoid of narrative. Famous examples include 'Finnegans Wake' and 'Ulysses' by James Joyce (1882-1941.) Complex constructions using devices of 'interior monologue' and the 'stream-of-consciousness,' these books fascinate literary critics. But have you ever read them? Do you know anyone who has?

 

  • Architecture: If I mentioned the Sydney Opera House or Notre Dame cathedral, you would not need a photograph to remind you of them. You would immediately see a mind-picture of them. Two buildings set far apart in time, they reflect the very different Story of the people who raised them. Then think of a skyscraper, the icon of modernity.


Except for those topped with identifying decorations, or those endowed with emotional signifigance like the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, you would be hard put to say which city housed any one typical box. A founding father of the skyscraper, Louis Sullivan (1856-1924), believed 'form follows function' and the skyscraper embodies that principle. Its function is to fit the largest number of paying tenants into the smallest piece of high-priced real estate. Its design states its lack of interest in who those tenants might be.

  • Music: When you listen to a recording of, say, 'Hall Of The Mountain King' by Edvard Grieg, you have no need to know about the folk stories that inspired him. But you will see pictures in your mind as you listen. And yet, unless you are a classical musician, you are unlikely to be able to hum the entire composition in the shower. This is because there are no words to help you recall the music. Incidentally, this is why 'Banjo' Paterson scribbled some verses that we can sing along with, to the old marching song we now know as 'Waltzing Matilda,' the unofficial anthem of Australia.


So when trendoids try to convince us 'Narrative is dead,' my answer is a giant raspberry that says: 'Oh, yeah?'©Dorothy Gauvin

 

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