July 09, 2008

The value of a good story

Ian Appleby is entirely right when he suggests that it does not diminish a story when we try to understand its ideological and philosophical messages. Stories are wonderful ways of capturing ideas and taking us through them: if you think, as I do, that empathy is one of the most outstanding and underrated of intellectual faculties then you cannot but see stories as a vital form of communication. Understanding those stories means understanding the empathetic impact that they have on one- and means also understanding the world view out of which they come. For example I am not a radical Catholic, but Robert Bresson's films have taught me a lot about a certain strain within the modern church. Occasionally a story can expose a darkness in a contemporary attitude- Quentin Tarrentino's films expose for me a darkness in the way that people empathise in our society for example. You may not agree with my examples- but the central fact remains true, stories change us and propel us, we need to understand what they propel us to- what sympathies they create. We need to understand that, both so that we can understand ourselves and so that we can understand each other.

4 comments:

Ruthie said...

Have you ever seen the movie "Lars and the Real Girl?"

I would be interested to see what you thought of it.

I always found Quentin Tarantino to be a little bit gratuitous.

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Stories are wonderful ways of capturing ideas and taking us through them:

Don't laugh or think me uncultured but I like Agatha Christie this way. Not always but there is a philosophy running through her work that is workable and sane.

Ian Appleby said...

Hey, there's scope for some selective snipping there for my testimonial bar: "Ian Appleby is entirely right" Gracchi. Sounds pretty good, I reckon. Thanks.

Obviously, I have to agree; plus, I think you have brought something to the fore here that I had inadvertently left implicit myself, namely the importance of empathy as a human quality. The way our society deprecates empathy, especially among men, is a question that is troubling me, and one that I hope to explore more fully.

Gracchi said...

Ruthie- no its on my list to see though.

James- I would never laugh at someone liking Agatha Christie- I don't agree neccessarily with all her philosophy but her works do what they profess to do and I find them enjoyable :)

Ian yes that's an interesting point about empathy and to be honest, I'll wait for your stuff on that with baited breath! As to the selective sniping, by all means...