Joe Alterio's blog on illustration, comix, design, animation, and other bouts of total awesomeness.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Storyteller Speaks

I've described my artistic demeanor here in these pages (pages?) previously as a 'narrativist', by which I've mean someone who puts a premium on getting the point across that so troubles the mind those long late nights, whether it's the price of oil or your own personal heartbreak. Leaving the experiements in didactic theory to the art school kids, the term 'narrativist' was never meant to be strictly about telling a literal story or an anecdote: you can be a narrativist and not a storyteller, but maybe not vice versa, if you follow me, though some efforts to the contrary may end up making this little theory of mine look like so much bunk.

Happily, in the business of my chosen poison, comics, I happen to be both. So it was with great joy that Molly directed me to this interview with Ira Glass about what he sees as the two main anchors of any good storytelling excercise, namely, The Anecdote and The Point. Considering the great success of This American Life as a now near-franchise, and it's consistent achievement in the face of increasing popularity (a tough hoop to jump through), he's prolly a good guy to listen to.

As a side note, notice he never mentions accuracy or "truth", two overrated concepts that any good storytelling effort should echew like a LA Times subscription. I sometimes get in trouble with Molly after a night of drinking, when she'll turn to me and say: "That story you told was way more interesting than what actually happened!" I think I'm missing the part of brain that sees anything wrong with that. I mean, sure, if I was a scientist or journalist, I could see the issue: but as it stands, I consider stretching the truth part of my research.


Glaser said...

Embellishment is at the heart of any great story as it is being told, and I'm of the firm opinion that, if I stretch the truth a little bit to make things more resonant or interesting, then the story itself is more likely to survive through being retold and re-invented, and the actual truth behind it will be forever preserved.

Of course, I don't recommend this technique to journalists or historians. Just the facts, Jack, from you guys, and then leave folks like Joe and I to add in the man-eating giraffes.

Anonymous said...

As a journalist, that's dually noted. :)


Jason Grote said...

I tend to think that the mediasphere's collective obsession with "truth" is not only disingenuous but unhealthy. As reality seems to be dissipating, or perhaps multiplying into endless copies of itself, we seem to be fetishizing small-t truth and crucifying anyone who dares violate these ridiculous guidelines...