What are you really doing? Yes, it’s a question that keeps coming back when you’re doing oral storytelling. It’s an exhausting question because there are things in the question that suggest I’m not actually contributing anything socially beneficial.

I love what I do because there are endless of stories- you are never finished looking into stories. But I am not contributing to innovation in material stuff. One consequence of this, is that I avoid situations where this question might be asked. I have surrounded myself with a safe network with peers or people working with something similar immaterial. I do not seek out opinions that might further develop me.

Of course, I think oral storytelling is the most important thing in the world. Because people cannot do without stories; I think that what I am doing is far more important than people walking on the moon or “settle on Mars”.

There is much that is exhausting about working in the intangible that is often about creating or structuring an intangible creativity. The dangers lie in oneself. According to Stefan Svallfors (he works in sociology, but it is transferable) there are three dangers that lead to stagnation and discouragement, which make one unable to further develop. For the first it is “self-replica”, that is, we repeat the same method over and over again and get the same result  (Svallfors, 2016). The second is the narrowing, which on the one hand is about being clear but can cause you to lose the big questions. A third is to lose your courage, this happens in small doses where you feel that you are not doing anything of importance and that what you are doing becomes meaningless (Svallfors, 2016).

Svallfors has ten commandments to prevent this feeling of loss; I translate it in the following way: do the things what engages you, become not too specialized, dare to expand the boundaries of discipline, read far and wide, build a team, look for shortcomings/holes, value opponents, keep the distance, be in motion, be generous and have some luck (Svallfors, 2016).

What do I create? I create ideas, reflections, and experiences. I create structures, motifs, words (words that comfort, awaken amazes) and spaces. I’m creating what’s beyond what you can’t touch but are reaching for it. I create dreams, fantasies, and arguments. I create relationships that go in all directions; it runs horizontally between people, and it runs vertically with long tradition – the past and future. I create laughter and sorrow and what you can sneer at. I help build perspectives on culture and something else to think about. I create opportunities where meetings arise that will take us a little further whatever path one should take.

In the Norse myth about how the skaldic tradition is created; it begins with a war. There are two families of gods that fight against each other and as these are gods, it can be hard to win a war, none of them win. I think it’s interesting that this myth tells you that if you’re going to be able to create, you must have a powerful impulse, that’s how I interpret it. The creative art begins with a crisis. Snorri Sturlasson tells the opening of the story about the skaldic tradition in the following way, the situation is that a man named Ægir is visiting the gods, he asks them questions and they answer:

Ægir then asked, «From where does that sport originate, the ability to be a scald? »

Brage (the god of poetry) replied:  «The reason to this was, that gods hand something unresolved with others, who was called vaner.  But they held a reconciliation meting and one from both sides walked up to a vessel and spat init.»

It is interesting that here it is translated with sports, it is a sport to create. And not least the spitting is the gift of reconciliation between them. They mix bodily fluids. I will come back to in another post with the continuation of the story.

Breath

 

His breath,

breath

 —-

Murky bouldering

the sky in the chest,

last consent.

 —–

The snake coils itself in ellipses around his arm.

 ——

Every breath.

The last one,

a turning of fear.

Every breath.

The last one,

a slipping year.

 —-

Quiet

Breath

Quiet

away

from us.

Quiet.

 —-

I hear the breath,

my own.

Here is a folk legend collected by Peder C. Asbjørnsen, it may not be directly about the topic, but it says something about courage and the ability to create an opportunity spontaneously in a situation. What I find interesting about the folk legend is the term «oneself» or «nobody» that this plot often has. This is the only narrative where I see that female protagonist uses this element found in many stories.

It was on top of the land somewhere, a mill and no one could use it, because it was so full of sorcery. But then there was a poor who was so in need of flour, and she begged that she would be allowed to grind there at night. «No, godly,» said the man who owned the mill, «you can’t tonight; it’s probably going to be scary for you,» he said. But the woman said she had to, because she didn’t have flour to cook and nothing to give the children. In the end, she was allowed to go there at night.

When she got there, she warmed up a large pot with tar that stood there, and started the mill, and set about to do some handcraft by the chimney. In a while, a woman came in and greeted her.

«Good evening,» she said to the one sitting there.

«Good evening,» the other one said continuing her work.

But right as it was, the one who entered started to spread the warm ashes by the chimney. The other one immediately removed it.

«What is your name?» the visitor asked.

«OH, my name is Myself,» the other one said.

This she thought was a strange name, and then took to spreading the ashes again. And the other one got mad and started scolding and threw the ashes into the fire. This went on for a long time. But suddenly, the woman knocked the pot with tar over the other. She hurried out and screamed, and shouted:

«Father, Father, Myself has burned me!»

«Oh, if you’ve done it yourself, you’ll have to take care of it yourself,» a voice called back from the mountain.

Source

Svallfors, S. (2016). Anörande: Uthållig kreativitet – tills döden skiljer oss åt: Tre faror, Två demoner, tio budord. Sociologisk Forskning, Vol. 53. No.2 , ss. 199-207.

 

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