The Power of Storytelling

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

There is nothing more special than sitting down, or standing (the choice is yours), and partaking in the experience of a story. And this of course can take many forms, whether it be a book, a movie, a documentary, a song, an elder speaking of the past, your parent or grandparent reading you a story before bed, a casual exchange of events with friends, or even going as far as viewing and considering a photograph or painting. Whatever the form may be, there is a certain allure towards the discovery of its contents, towards the exploration of its happenings. True or not, we must know of them. As to why, well, that is a question to ask ourselves. So I ask you now: can you imagine a world without storytelling?

A while back, well not too far back, in fact just over a year ago, I wrote an essay around the question of using fiction as a tool for historical study in school. Yes, it was project for my teacher education program, but it was, and still is, a project and topic that I take very seriously. During my research stage, I stumbled upon an interesting source, a book titled Storytelling and Ethics: Literature, Visual Arts, and the Power of Narrative by Hanna Meretoja and Colin Davis. In the opening pages, a small collection of words stood out to me: "It has become commonplace to describe humans as storytelling animals." Words that I, unsurprisingly, strongly agree with, but again, words that do not tell us exactly why that is the case. However, Meretoja and Davis then presented the summary of a related point from Plato's Republic, stating that "storytelling practices may help define who we are, refine our moral sensibilities and open new possibilities of experience, action and self-invention." It is here where I believe we may have an answer. Not the answer, as I do not believe that absolutism can exist in a creative sphere, but a single answer for sure.

Time for a tangent: as I was finishing my degree in Education, I wrote and directed a short film during a brief summer break. The film was titled, A Simple Task, and was a story about a young man by the name of Alfonso, seeking to reform his life. There is a lot more to the story itself, but that is the summary in its simplest form. The film is amateur in its presentation, but considering it was a six day project (writing, filming, and editing combined) with minimal equipment and experience, you grow to appreciate it. In connection to the points by Meretoja and Davis, A Simple Task was and still is my "new possibilities of experience, action, and self-invention." I was the young man seeking to reform his life. The program I was completing was not what I thought it would be, and not for the better, leading to me questioning my decisions towards future plans. Below is the film:

The film was a symbol of my thoughts and emotions towards life moving forward, as I was wrapping up the last couple months of the program. I began to consider whether I should now take the opportunity to pursue the creative endeavors I had always wanted to pursue, such as making a film or writing a book. And long story short, that's what I did. Following the program's completion and a summer escape to Greece, I elected to work as a Teacher-On-Call to have the time and flexibility to tackle these creative dreams. January of this year, I completed what I refer to as my first serious attempt at writing and directing a short film, A Social Contract, a film concerning the topic and questions around political leadership in the present, which tied my creative side with my interests in history and politics. I submitted the film to festivals to cement the stepping-stone achievement in my mind. Below is the film:

There were more film projects in the works, but as we all know, a certain something chose to derail our twentieth year of the century. It was discouraging at first, but I aimed to make the most of the situation and continue my creative endeavors. Given the lack of everything during the early days of the pandemic, I viewed it as a fitting environment to give writing a book a go. I thought to start small and aim for a short story. Three months later:

The short story became a novella, based on the short film A Simple Task from less than a year ago, which I immediately self-published. It is available on Amazon as a Kindle eBook and Paperback. You can find the link under my website's 'Books' section.

So, where exactly am I going with all this? As I began, there is nothing more special than sitting down, or standing, and partaking in the experience of a story. And I would argue that it is one of the most enjoyable and crucial experiences we can and will have in our lives. It is an experience which features the exchange of ideas, the encounter of thoughts, and the pursuit of desires without explicitly stating so.

Example: let us say you want to learn about the civil rights movement in America during the 1960s. More specifically, you would like to learn about key moments during this enormously important period. Would you rather watch a documentary that focuses on key moments during the era? Or would you rather watch a film adaptation of one of these moments, such as the 2016 film Selma (amazing film), directed by Ava DuVernay? Same topic and theme, different modes of transportation, so to speak. Ideally, you would say both, but everyone has their preferences. Some prefer the more direct approach of a documentary, while others prefer the more imaginative approach of a narrative film. Both tell a story, but is one more of a story than another? How do we define a story? My answer is primed and ready to go, but will wait to make its appearance at a later date. And why? Because I could go on for much much longer. In fact, I already have. Simply put, I intend to plant a seed (this is an inaugural post, after all). In the meantime, I ask for you to consider the questions mentioned above for next time. What is a story to you?

So once again, where am I going with all this? Well, I just wanted to take some time to introduce myself. My name is Menelaos Lourotos, but you can call me Meno. I love stories and storytelling of all kinds. Though, more specifically, the kinds that take the form of a photograph, a moving image, and a written narrative text. This is my space dedicated to the discussion of such stories and their... things. I look forward to sharing all of my projects with you, and to engage in all of our future banters concerning the creative realm. Please, never hesitate to contribute. And thank you to partaking in my story ;)

In addition to my website, you may also view, share, and interact with me and/or my work on the following social media channels:

Instagram: @menelaoslourotos

Facebook: Menelaos Lourotos

500Pixel: Menelaos Lourotos

Goodreads: Menelaos Lourotos

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