The lying storyteller

Does the storyteller lie when he tells a story? Of course he does. But, does he really? Most stories are lies in that they never happened. Are we, then a self-delusional race?

I feel a storyteller is only too acutely aware of the fact that he doesn’t have any answers, and that he knows nothing. Nobody does. But it bothers him more than it bothers anyone else. So he tries to make sense of things.

He knows he lives in a world that, for all its limitations, expects its people to take stands and to have opinions. It also expects them to say things and stand by what they have said. The storyteller realises it is a noble goal but he also realises he is not quite there yet.

So he takes to creating people, places and worlds in his head. He draws them as lifelike as he can, taking his inspiration from the actual world around him. The people in his imagination are slightly touched up shadows of the people around him. The places are the same, only foggier and darker (or better-lit).

He decorates all of this using his limited skills with words, occasionally doing a better job than he had hoped for. Then he reads what he has written and realises he is no wiser than he was when he started.

Dejected, tired and yet somewhat amused, he goes to a public place and tells his story to a bunch of people who stop to listen. He doesn’t see it (his head is bent as he reads from his unedited manuscript) but a few eyes light up as his tale progresses. A few people whip out their cell phones and call home to say they will be late. Others call friends over to listen. The crowd grows and it makes itself comfortable. The storyteller looks up and gasps. He feels daunted, yet happy. Maybe they get what I missed, he thinks to himself.

After he finishes, he happily puts up with a fair amount of back-patting and hair-shuffling. People shake his hand and thank him. They ask him when he will tell them another story.

He still doesn’t have his answers. But he can’t help feeling he gave some people theirs. And he knows one thing about the world now. He knows that the world he lives in, is at once deeply in love with, and mortally afraid of, metaphors. It will die for the sake of a metaphor. It will also kill when another goes too far. At any rate it can not resist a metaphor. It is almost as if the world believes metaphors to be true. By that logic, all stories must exist somewhere. All books must have happened, or will, even if no one ever writes them.

It is not so much about lying as it is about meaning. Even lies mean something, and that, the storyteller decides, is enough.

#lies, #lying, #stories, #storytelling, #truth