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.


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...