Stories & Telling

“A world-changing and world-opening narrative cannot be created by the whim of a single person. Rather, it owes its existence to a complex process in which various forces and actors are involved.”

— Byung-Chul Han, The Crisis of Narration

“It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.”

— a Native American proverb

“We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or hate, to see or be seen. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then become a story-teller.”

— Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

“We can’t meaningfully proceed with healing, with restoration, without “re-story-ation”.

— Gary Nabhan

" The stories we choose to shape our behaviors have adaptive consequences”

— Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

“Polemics are never persuasive. Academics never inspire. Politicians only follow, never lead. Story tellers change the world.”

— Wade Davis

The complexity and ambiguity of the environments that individuals face are best understood when language, including the richness of metaphor and the flexibility of the story, is invoked as a sensemaking device.

— Larry Browning & Thierry Boudès, The use of narrative to understand and respond to complexity

We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.

— Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall

“Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everybody sees it differently.”

— Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit

“The art of storytelling is coming to an end. Less and less frequently do we encounter people with the ability to tell a tale properly. More and more often there is embarrassment all around when the wish to hear a story is expressed. It is as if something that seemed inalienable to us, the securest among our possessions, were taken from us: the ability to exchange experiences.”

— Walter Benjamin, The Storyteller.

“When a ritual is embedded in a story that people believe, they act accordingly, playing out the roles the story assigns to them, and responding to the reality the story establishes…. Rituals and talismans affirm and perpetuate the consensus stories we all participate in, stories that form our reality, coordinate our labor, and organize our lives. Only in exceptional times do they stop working: the times of a breakdown in the story of the people… The only reform (therefore) that can possibly be effective will be one that embodies, affirms, and perpetuates a new story of the people.”

— Charles Eisenstein, Sacred Economics