‘Thousands of years ago, we told stories to each other. The best stories were those that could be repeated over and over again, changing little, those that embodied tribal memory, with strong, often repetitive structure and big heroes and villains. There wasn’t much by way of interior monologue or intertextuality.
Then came the printing press, and gradually we moved from a primarily oral to a primarily literate culture. By the late 19thcentury, the glory days of the novel, we saw complex, highly individualized narratives, intricate and embellished, woven from multiple subplots, as the highest literary form.
And today? Today, argues Matt Locke, founder of Storythings and organiser of The Story conference, we’re looping back to those pre-literate days.
‘Because we are sharing and re-performing the stories by tweeting them, and screen grabbing, and sending them around, the stories that survive now are the ones that can survive that re-performance… Memes are much closer to the oral storytelling structures of pre-Gutenberg worlds than they are to the literate, technical stories of the last couple of hundred years.’