Category Archives: Storytelling

Fictions, falsehoods and other things that are true

How Shit Gets Started

So, let’s say I’m a chronicler. My job is to listen to stories and write them down.

So, let’s say that I go around all over the place collecting stories to pass around and tell other people – kind of like an entertainer, a raconteur, because that is how I get places to stay and food to eat. I tell stories.

So, let’s that I keep all of my stories in one big notebook because I travel around and I travel light. And let’s say that I write on my notebook what these stories GENERALLY are: Slices of 20th and 21st Century Life.

This notebook would be a written transcription of orally-told stories about things that people considered culturally relevant. In this notebook would be included stories about, for example, recounting of the 9/11 attacks from the perspective of people in New York, and also from an American Muslim. It would include a story about an East German Immigrant’s reaction to the Berlin Wall coming down. It would include a story about Watergate. It would also include the story about a Tatooine Farm Boy who flew through Space to destroy evil. It would include stories about a Man in a Blue Box who travelled through time. It would include stories about men who walked on the moon, and stories about taking pictures of other planets. It would include the story about the escaped insane killer with a hook for a hand, or the axe, or the machete, or the clown mask that always seems to be wherever skittish teenagers are camping and how he always seems to make an appearance at the campfire right at the crescendo of the tale. It includes stories about how HIV/AIDS was a plague that devastated a specific demographic, and it would tell that story from the perspective of a gay man who lost the love of his life to a terrible disease, and it would also tell the story from the perspective of a whacked-out fundamentalist evangelical religious wing-nut who saw it as a punishment for rampant immorality. It would tell the story of a Vampire named Lestat and of a Vampire named Edward Cullen. It would include the story of the WWII Concentration camps in both Germany and The United States as told by the people who were there. And it would talk about Abu Gahrib and the Gulf Wars and Guantanamo, and those stories would be told by citizens and soldiers and prisoners and politicians. And on, and on, and on.

These stories would be written in the now, told by and recorded for a contemporary audience. Verbal snapshots of life – meant to be read on the bus or the plane. It would not be a historical account designed as a record for posterity; it would be stories to tell to pass time, meant at best to hold some passing interest from someone ten or fifteen or a hundred years from now, but certainly not meant to be factual accounts. They are anecdotal.

Being for a contemporary audience, there would be no need to make any distinction between stories based on factual events and fictitious ones because the people who would hear these stories would know that Tatooine was a product of the imagination of George Lucas, and that NASA put the feet of men on the moon and the wheels of a rover on Mars. They would know that there are fake urban legends and genuine urban tragedies. They would know which stories are based on things that happened and which are based on things that didn’t.

They would know what was literal and what was metaphor.

So let’s say I die or lose my notebook and someone finds it with the intention of trying to return it, but never gets around to it, and it becomes one of those things that ends up in a box, in an attic, in a garage, and forgotten about.

Fast-Forward 2500 years. Various things happen, mostly just life going as life does, and much of the information about daily 20th century life is lost. We may have some of the data, but none of the context or perspective.

During an excavation of a typical 21st century domicile in the region that used to be known as the country of California, a collection of papers is unearthed. This collection is all together, so it must be a book. The book, titled “A Collection of Culturally-Impactful Stories 20th Century America”, seems to be handwritten, which hasn’t been done since 2000 years ago, so the book is at least that old. The language it is written in is an old form of what was then known as Americanian, in which Universalia (the common language) has some common roots, but it’s almost a completely different language.

The book is given to a cultural anthropologist and an Americanian Scholar and Historian and extensively examined absent the perspective or context of the 20th/21st centuries. Hilarity ensues. Hilarity like:

1) Homo Sapiens Americanus used to walk the moon.

2) They had knowledge of planets out of their own solar system, particularly the ones of an unidentified galaxy with planets called Tatooine, Couroscant, Naboo, Degobah, Hoth, Endor. They also knew of the destruction of a place called Alderann.

3) 2500 years ago, vampires were roaming the Earth – there is no reason why they can’t still exist today.

4) HIV/AIDS devastated millions of lives before it was cured. It was so devastating that it seemed to drive some people absolutely insane and delusional, babbling about it being a punishment for people having sex.

5) We don’t understand why there were so many people with hooks on their hands and why they murdered campers.

6) Tyrannical nations like Germany and the United States of America commonly imprisoned large ethnic groups of people in concentration camps for being suspected enemy combatants. Those interred in the camps were separated from families, deprived of human rights, routinely tortured and humiliated and languished for years in hellish conditions without ever being charged with a crime.

7) There once was a being with no name, known only as “WHO” from a vast extra-dimensional realm called “Tardis” who shaped the wibbly-wobbly timey, wimey stuff of the universe in his image. He is more powerful than anything we can imagine, and in an effort to win his favor, or at least keep him from annihilating us, because people who are powerful are powerful because they can annihilate other people who can’t do anything to stop them (a piss-poor and highly incorrect definition of power, by the way), we should worship him. When we die, we’ll go to Tardis to be with WHO.

8) There was once a man, a Doctor, descended from ‘WHO’ and who was the physical incarnation of WHO, born in the land of Gallifray who traveled across Earth bringing the light of knowledge to the darkness and conquering the evil spirit Bad Wolf and the Daleks, righting wrongs and generally saving humanity’s bacon. He had a group of people called “Companions” traveled with him and learned about the wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey stuff from him. He had magic powers like taking other forms. He was killed and came back to life. We should worship him, too.

Oh, and, did I mention that another word for “A Collection of Stories” is “A Bible”?