Monday, September 28, 2009

Once Upon a Time

"Once upon a time" is one of the most famous magical phrases ever uttered and is one of the most powerful spellcasting techniques ever created. As soon as we hear those four words, we pay attention and are transported into another world.

Storytelling is an art form as old as humans, as old as spoken language. It was one of the first forms of magic, one of the first forms of entertainment, and it has served us well from the time the first cavemen and cavewomen gathered around the fire until this very day.

For thousands of years, older people told stories to younger people and they came to see the world around them in a new way.

Then about a hundred years or so ago, some people thought that these traditional stories might be too scary for younger people, so they edited them to removed some of the darker aspects of the stories. Those of us who only grew up learning the tamer versions still got tremendous value and were emotionally moved by these stories. But in more recent years, when the original versions were republished, there was a rich new sense of discovery of whole new levels of the story that were revealed.

In some cases, it was like stripping a layer of gray or white paint off a piece of furniture and discovering finely grained wood underneath.

We didn't need to have the stories toned down in order to appreciate them. Generation after generation grew up hearing the old versions. When you hear family stories or history stories that are not cleaned up or toned down, aren't the original versions even better?

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