The Connections Between Stories, History and Literature
By Ann Smith
This summer I had the opportunity to vacation in the beautiful Berkshire mountains and attended a lecture by Dr. Martin Puchner about his new book, The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization. (firstname.lastname@example.org). He referenced the connection between storytelling (from ancient civilizations writing on clay tablets) to the development of literature.
The introduction to his book recounts man’s very first experiences seeing the moon up close on Apollo 8 and the importance of putting those experiences into words since the camera was limited in what it could capture. Dr. Puchner states, “Ground control realized that the astronauts needed to rely on a simpler technology: the spoken word. ‘We would like you, if possible, to go into as much of a detailed description as you poets can’ ”. The author states, “Becoming poets was a task for which the astronauts’ training hadn’t prepared them and to which they brought no particular skills…. But they needed to find…the right words… such as ‘lunar sunrises and sunsets’…which ‘bring out the stark nature of the terrain’ and their feeling that ‘the vast loneliness up here of the moon is awe-inspiring…’ ”
I was struck by the connection of these observations with the interviews I have conducted with individuals as they have shared their life stories. Photos tell only part of the story. The actual words, spoken by those who have had the experiences, are the most powerful gifts we can share.