January 13, 2012

Barry Lopez, On the Value of Story

A great quote (from a short film) from the wonderful Barry Lopez about the value of story, while he's at Bread Loaf.

“I think, what happens in a story is that you are reminded again of something you already know. Maybe you know it in your body or maybe you know it in your emotions without language or maybe you know it in your mind. But the story reminds you of something that you forgot. And when you remember it, you feel exhilarated.

“From my point of view, storytelling is a social impulse, and the social impulse is to take care of your people. Part of the reason I’m at Bread Loaf is to help the people who have chosen to come into the classroom where I am, to help them find that way to take what they know and make it into something that will help all of us.

“There’s shipwreck in life from one end to the other. I think every person probably by the time they are thirty years old has been driven to their knees. They’ve been alone in some room on their knees weeping, wondering who cares if I die? Why should I bother to get up? Why should I go out the door? Why should I go to work? Why should I write or reform this relationship with this woman or this man? Why should I try for custody for my kids? They’re on their knees and they would just as soon die. They need a story. The story that they need is a story that they can believe about the purpose of life, and that’s the place I want to be in.

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