Story Telling

While walking around the U shaped room, squinting my eyes, trying to view each detail on the Bayeux tapestry, I was struck with a question about story telling. I wondered, how many different ways were there to affectively tell a story? I always associated story telling with printed words on paper or the soothing sounds of someone’s voice, but while trying to comprehend the nearly one thousand year old linen tapestry, I realized story telling could come in all forms. The Bayeux tapestry depicts the Norman invasion of England with more beauty and clarity than any combination of words could create, so why was it that this form of story telling has become almost unknown to the modern world? While today we focus mostly on phonetic story telling, in the past pictographic writing was quite common across many cultures. This year in history I learned about the Maya people’s pictographic script, so it was interesting to see the other ways in which pictographic writing had been used. While the Bayeux tapestry was created in a time where phonetic writing was known, it is still interesting to see the ways in which pictographic depictions were present.

Today in the caves of Grotte de Rouffignac, the 14,000 years old drawings on the walls tell another pictographic story. While these striking illustrations of mammoths, ibex, mastodons, and horses seem just simple artwork, to me, they tell the story of the lives of these prehistoric people. Pictographically, they display what these people saw and encountered in their sector of world history, as well as showing which animals were the most important to them. Animals like the mammoth, portrayed several times throughout the cave, were sources of food, clothes, tools, etc. for these people.

While these were ways of story telling I had given little thought to beforehand, thinking back on our experiences in Normandy provided me with another view on story telling. The battle on the beaches on D-Day tell the story of heroism, teamwork, and determination. Being present at the cemetery and on the beaches really allowed me to understand and really get a feel for the story that this great day in history told.

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