I like Old Things.
Antique Cameras, jaunty little pillbox hats, antique dishes. Give me the sound of a typewriter over a cell phone everyday.
But I hadn’t considered stories through the lens of Relics until I came across this quote by Stephen King…
“Stories are like relics, part of an undiscovered preexisting world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”—Stephen King
Mr King appears to suggest the story is already there, and the writers job is to uncover it without destroying it.
I appreciate this perspective, but for me it was merely a jumping off point.
For, if we care to extend the metaphor, then that means Folk Tales and Folk Lore are also antiques, like heirlooms passed down from our ancestors.
Folk lore has the unique ability to transcend cultures, time and space. That means that it can teach us about what it means to be Uniquely Human.
Folklore endures because the things we prioritize and the things we fear are universal.
The dark. The unknown. The woods. Being lost. Half human, half -other beings. Monsters.
For all our supposedly sophisticated ideas, for all our technology, it seems that people haven’t advanced far from their original fears, prejudices, and assumptions.
If you aren’t Like me, then you are Other.
If we truly know so much, why do we struggle with the same fears our forefathers did?
We have the World of Information at our fingertips, and yet as a People we know less than any other age.
Ancient Egypt figured out a practical geometry in order to build the pyramids . Ancient Babylon had developed a brilliant form of Astronomy. Ancient Mesopotamia had libraries full of knowledge by the time Father Abraham lived. Ancient Rome had a Sophisticated intelligence agency that would rival our CIA- without phones or computers or the internet.
What do we know? Isolated facts, dates, trivia? We know self help quotes, the Bill of Rights, and that Pluto is no longer a planet.
Our founding fathers had a 90 percent literacy rate, and little “formal” schooling. For the most part, they were fluent in three languages before eighth grade, and shortly afterwards were able to go to universities .
We currently have a 46% literacy rate, according to an article in Forbes Magazine, and Compulsory Education for 13 years.
Education is broken. But we have Google and Tesla. The machines will do our thinking for us.
It’s fairly easy for all of our electronics to seem Smart, when the humans operating them are increasingly dumb.