Sunday, May 25, 2014

Symbols

What I've been struggling with for the past fourteen years of trying to put food on the table through telling stories for the masses is my inability to escape my belief that all stories are allegorical and that the characters, places, and occurrences within those stories are symbols. All of them.

Listen. Whether it's gossiping about how your neighbor's teen-aged daughter is pregnant or it's a major network pouring millions of pesos into an episode of a TV show, the fact that a story was deemed worthy of being relayed from one person to another and the other person deemed it worth his time to hear means whatever it was that originally inspired the tale--an event, a thought, a whimsy--it has since become symbolic. The event itself is not a story. It's a random turning of the cosmic cards. A tree falling in the forest, so to speak. It's only when the event is recalled (to oneself, to another, to a great many others) that it becomes a story, that it is given meaning. It's only when the tale is told that the personages, locations, and incidents become symbols. Symbols are humanity's shorthand for complex ideas, and stories use symbols so we may be able to make sense of our lives, of our place in the universe. Storytellers use the alchemy of imagination to string together symbols--even if there are those who don't seem to realize what they are actually doing, simply believing that they chose a specific path to take a group of characters because it pleased them.

What I find extremely difficult is concealing the symbols and camouflaging the allegory. Mainly because I don't want to. As I celebrate the making of the symbols, I want the listener to celebrate the deciphering of them. And in an industry that seems to recognize only one purpose for stories--escape--not pretending to be blind to the allegory can injure one's prospects.

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