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Table of ContentsOral Tradition

Oral Tradition - 12 / 18 / 2004
why revert to an oral tradition?
    written word great for recording what exactly was said
        but it too easily degenerates into dogma
            intellectual laziness
                the easy way out
            rule of justice vs the rule of law and tyranny
                the "book" over-rules direct experience
    print is not dynamic, flexible, adaptable
        print rigidifies and fossilizes
        economic considerations
    lack of interaction and feedback
    the internet is not print
oral cultures
    elders as repositories
        dynamic value
        the Talmud
            has weight but not inertia
    Icelandic AlThing
        recite the law - 1/3 each year
    the measure of time
        act slower
        decisions made with future generations in mind
            seven generations
        between storyteller & audience
        exists only in the act
        tailored to the moment [based on audiences' needs and responses]
            storyline determined by audience
    importance of place, fire and ritual
    elasticity of time
        controlling time and space
            phyical representation of time line
            total time, planet time, species time, and lifetime
    being in the moment [see Tao and Zen]
    memory and images
        guided imagery
        active daydreaming
    voice, motion and gesture
        facial expressions & eye contact
    journeying within
    projection into story
basic storytelling skills
        long period of training
    focus / concentration
        an opportunity to enact oral tradition first hand
            drumming (playing an instrument)
        language in tales is simple
        high interest level
        appeals to the imagination
            applys to audiences of all levels
        how oral stories have been preserved
        validates certain aspects of culture and justifies its rituals and institutions
        explanatory tale or a moral animal tale, myth or legend
            validate doubted pattern
            warn of subsequent consequences when accepted practices are violated
            provides rationalizations when institutions and conventions are challenged
    maintaining conformity or control
        group cohesion
        group feeling
        express social approval of those who conform
        can act as an icebreaker to let outsiders into group
        compensation for something lacking in reality
        from frustrations and repressions
        from geographical environment and biological limitations
        teach the history of a people
        cultural norms, diligence, respect, perseverance, etc
        dangers and how to avoid them
        story told to interest
        provide fun or excitement
        stimulation of the imagination
    functions of legends are not fixed and may change as context changes
        when and where tale was told
        events which took place before narration began
        was legend told verbatim or not
        gestures and facial expression
        relationship of narrator and audience
        amount and type of audience reaction and participation
        age, occupation, ethnic background, etc. of both teller and audience
folklore / folkways  
    form is relatively stable
        folklore is not a static phenomena
        product of individual tradition bearer's constant reworking
            acceptance or rejection
        folklore represents what storyteller feels to be a true reflection
            real relationships between members in a class, ethnic, racial or sex group
        lack of any claim that what happened in tale is real
        animal tales / fables
        jokes & anecdotes
        formula tales
    folk legends
        religious legends
            traditional stories about miracles
            answers to prayers
            marvelous icons
        supernatural legends
            vampires, werewolves, trolls, fairies, little people, zombies and ghost stories
            many of which are European in origin
        personal legends
            poor child who makes good
            good child gone wrong
            child that is too good or bad to be true
        local legends
            associated with specific places
                their names
                their geographic features
                their histories
        heroic legends
            associated with specific people and the events of their lives
            genealogical inventories
    fairytales / wonder tales
        The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
            - Bruno Bettelheim
            fairytales carry important messages
                to conscious mind
                to preconscious mind
                to unconscious mind
                on whatever level each is functioning at the time
            Vladimir Propp – form and structure of fairy tales
            suggest images to child
                by which he can structure his daydreams
                gives better direction to their life
            fairytales present positive solutions to difficult problems
            they also give form
                to formless, nameless anxieties
                to chaotic, angry, and sometimes violent fantasies
                underside of fairytales that appeals to adolescents
        struggles in life are unavoidable
            if one perseveres against unexpected and unjust hardships, they can be a winner
        characters are unusually very clearly drawn
            are typical rather than unique
            are not ambivalent
                either all good or all bad
                either all beautiful or all ugly
                either all stupid or all smart
                polarization makes qualities clear for child
            are often in isolation or forced out
        process of finding one's way
            step by step
            through unknown
            terrifying circumstances
            leads to a successful end
Awakening the Hidden Storyteller - Robin Moore
The European Folktale: Form and Nature - Max Luthi
Morphology of the Folktale - Vladimir Propp
The Storyteller's Start-up Book - Margaret Read MacDonald
The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales - Bruno Bettelheim

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