The Rebirth of Story & Wonder: Wonder with a 1000 Faces
Story died in 1969. After a promising start beginning as a lad dancing around campfires and later accompanied by harp-toting bards and onto tragic and comic stages, Story gave shape and meaning to people around the globe.
With a far-reaching influence, Story gradually found an early calling in cathedrals, in caves, and eventually on pages. Going through many struggles in middle life, Story most prominently dwelled in the West on stages and pages. In later life, Story found a suitable life on airwaves and screens.
All but exhausted, Story was pronounced dead in 1969 by Ronald Sukenick, a short story writer. As if trying to live out a patricide tragedy, Susenick and numerous other novelists in the late ‘60s claimed – rather presumptuously one might add – Big Daddy Story dead, for all good conventional and bourgeoise moral purposes (even though Jose Ortega y Gassett and Walter Benjamin had seen it coming for decades).
Apparently, the claims were unfounded. Story, like Elvis, has been in hiding.
Branders, bloggers, screenplay writers, literary novelists, ministers, conference organizers, and even neuroscientists have brought Story back to the fore.
Branders talk about business stories. Bloggers test their skills at telling stories. A professor blends literature + neuroscience to talk about the storytelling animal we are. Serious literary writers, once happy to dwell on the textures of a character’s knuckles or the fine shapes of gossamer wings on a late April morning or the utter disruption of anything smacking of “convention,” recognize the value if not delight in finessing what we simply must admit is a variation of a classic Story arc. Heck, even Julian Barnes’s lovely Booker Prize-winning The End of Something has a discernible Plot Point I and Plot Point II.
And I mean Story with a capital “S” has come back into our epoch’s conversations and practices. Story of the Joseph Campbell-Carl Jung archetypal kind.
I’m an avid proponent that more knowledge of something actually can elicit even more wonder toward that subject. It is wonder’s gift to knowledge.
So, what happens when Joseph Campbell meets Tracking Wonder?
You get, “Wonder with a 1000 Faces.”
It’s the first of my testing out some ideas in a new piece for Psychology Today by that name. In it, I posit a couple of simple tenets:
- Wonder appears throughout the cycles both of a human life and of a story – not just in romanticized beginnings.
- If we want to design, live out, and enjoy captivating stories, we’d do well to understand the many faces of wonder.
Check it out. Let me know what you think. Raise brows, fists, and goblets. (i.e., Let me know what you think by commenting there or here).
See you in the woods,