Friday, September 24, 2010

storytelling: including some quotes from Coupland’s Generation A

I’m off to the annual Network of Biblical Storytellers Conference. This is one area where Australia is way ahead of New Zealand, in having a network and a gathering around the sheer imaginative and relational possibilities created by story. It’s the 10th anniversary, and the first time in Adelaide, thanks in large part to the energy and creativity of Uniting College student Sarah Agnew.

I’ve got my storytellers hat.

Found in an opportunity shop back in the 1990s. At the time, I was doing theological training and planting a community of faith. And my peers in training, well, sorted gave me lip for wearing it! “Who do you think you are Taylor.” I’ve kept it, and kept it and kept it. Always knowing it’s moment might arrive.

And then there are the stories. I’m telling about ten in total. Some are Kiwi historical stories. Others are Kiwi ministry stories. Three are different angles on gospel stories. Two are brand new, one written in Durham, another in Tasmania. All are original to me, bar one. It’s been such fun preparing for this conference, digging around my hard drive, placing stories side by side, seeing how they move and talk to each other.

By a coincidence (?), on the way back in the plane, I read Douglas Coupland’s latest, Generation A: A Novel. Which unknown by me until after I brought it, is all about stories.

In some ways, Generation A returns us to Coupland’s first work, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, in which he wrote; “We know this is why the three of us left our lives behind us and came to the desert – to tell stories and to make our own lives worthwhile tales in the process.” (8) In Generation A, once again Coupland narrates a story in which (sort of), a younger generation are leaving their lives behind and in isolation, being invited to tell stories. A fascinating theme to return to nearly 20 years later, and in a book with the same title “Generations.”

Here are some quotes from Generation A: A Novel:

“a story – something that makes some sense of events you know have meaning.” (2)

“I do not want anecdotes from your life, Zack. I want stories. Stories you invent. Stories that have no other goal in life than to be stories.” (187)

“The brain uses stories to organize its perceptions of the world.” (195)

“Stories come from a part of you that only gets visited rarely – sometimes never at all. I think most people spend so much time trying to convince themselves that their lives are stories that they actual story-creating part of their brains hardens and dies.” (201)

“Instead of inventing and telling stories, I’m going to make my life a more interesting story.” (211)

If I wasn’t telling stories, I’d be looping these behind me on powerpoint over the weekend.

Posted by steve at 09:36 PM