Ken Burns on story: 1 + 1 = 3

Sarah Klein and Tom Mason of Redglass Pictures recently spoke to documentarian Ken Burns about his work. Just watch.

A few months ago, in a comment on the post Question Time: ask away, Jason asked a question I haven’t yet answered, because it’s the big one:

A while back (in your April 3, 2011 post, to be exact – my memory’s not that good, I just searched for “narrative” in your blog), you said, “I’ve been pondering the importance of storytelling — seriously pondering its cultural, psychological, and mythological import — since a remark from a friend spurred my first ever post on this blog.” As far as I can tell, you’ve never unpacked these remarks in one concerted blog entry. (If you did, I either missed it or the synapses containing that information have chosen to remain inaccessible.) Could you do so? (Or direct us to where you have done so?) And can you say at what point you understood the power, not of *a* story, but of story itself? What’s it all about, Meg?

I haven’t answered yet because there’s so much to say. Eons worth of stuff to say. So I think I’ll have to unpack it bit by bit, because if I try to answer Jason’s question in one post, I’ll be writing from here to the Mayan Apocalypse.

Let the video above serve as the first bit of unpacking. Listen to Ken Burns — he knows what story is about.

4 responses to “Ken Burns on story: 1 + 1 = 3

  1. More to the point, if you tried to answer it in one post, you might be directly *responsible* for the Mayan Apocalypse – didn’t they find an entry in the Mayan calendar that says, “Meg O’Death Reveals Story’s Power” . . . ?

  2. Meg, that Ken Burns piece was beautiful – even if it was a manipulation on its own. I’ve been a big fan of Ken since he came out with The Civil War in 1990. His was one of the most elegant explanations of the importance of story.

  3. What a terrific interview! Now I get why Burns’ documentaries are so compelling. (Get to hear him speak in Cupertino next year!)

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