Buck Ramsey (cowboy poet) testifying in favor of funding National Endowment for the Humanities
“I think our nation, and our species has common memory that keep us, through tradition, connected; reminded of the precious things our minds and hearts and souls have sifted and sanctified from our long and common experience. But, as regards to songs, stories, and poems, which are much of the tradition of my tribe, I learned early a curious fact: The older the cowboy, the more likely he was to be plugged into that common memory of the tribe. That is he knew more songs, stories and poems than the younger ones and seemed to be in some way purer in his tribal etiquette. When it came to my generation, we knew only snatches of what the old ones knew. Clearly radio, movies, television began drowning out the resonance of the tradition, acted as something of an Alzheimer’s disease on the common memory.”
Personally, I’m a fan of radio, television and movies. They’re all based on telling a good story in one way or another. But stories that tell us who we are serve a deeper purpose. It seems to me that we remember a good “tribal story” as Ramsey calls them, differently than we remember a good movie. Anyone agree or disagree?
100 speakers, 200 panels, 5 days, the 61st annual Conference on World Affairs offered some great quotes about story.
No one ever marched on Washington because of a pie chart. You need a good story.
—Terry McNally (radio commentator)
You need to know where you came from to know who you are. Ask your family for the stories.
–Liz Weir (Irish storyteller Boom Chicka Boom)
We need a poetic response to reality.
–Peter Thabit Jones (Welsh poet The Lizard Catchers)
Like an open road, stories will take you where you want to go.
–Teresa Jordan (writer Riding the White Horse Home)
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
–Will Rogers, early 20th Century entertainer.
His story proves the point. He was never one to “just sit there.” He was successful at vaudeville, silent film, writing, roping, and speaking. He traveled the world and took up flying. Unfortunately, on a 1935 flight around the world, his plane, an experimental hybrid, crashed near Barrow, Alaska killing him and the pilot Willy Post.
Columbia University is offering a graduate program in narrative medicine!!
“The care of the sick unfolds in stories. The effective practice of healthcare requires the narrative competence to recognize, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and experiences of others. Medicine practiced with narrative competence is a model for humane and effective healthcare.” (see ad in Jan. 19, 2009 New Yorker Magazine)
Isak Dinesen, Danish novelist, best known for her novel Out of Africa said:
“To be a person is to have a story to tell.”
In real life, she was Karen von Blixen-Finecke because in the early 1900s it was fine for a baroness to follow her husband into the wilds of Africa, but not to write about it.