Monday, July 23, 2007

Striving for Intelligence

If any person ever doubted their intelligence, then they would be pleased to know that Schank said, "Any human, even the dullest of us, is unbelievably intelligent" (p. 3). Even if we feel we do not have stories within us, we do, and therein lies our potential to brilliance.

The longer we live on earth, the more experiences we gain that feed into the types of scripts we are familiar with such as the normal activities at school, home, work, or church. Our memories of such places and others can allow us to converse and communicate easier with our fellow man.

Though Shakespeare said that "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players", each of us have different roles. Schank revealed, "The more scripts you know, the more situations will exist in which you feel comfortable and capable of playing your role effectively. But the more scripts you know, the more situations you will fail to wonder about, be confused by, and have to figure out on your own. Script-based understanding is a double-edge sword" (p. 8)

A script could even relate to the Harry Potter phenomenon at the bookstores. When there is the midnight party to celebrate the release of a Harry Potter book, I already know to expect thousands of people to be lined inside and outside of Barnes and Noble. I would not strangely look upon the people who have dressed up as their favorite characters in the book such as Harry Potter with his scar on his forehead, Hermione Granger with her stack of books, or Ron Weasley with his broken wand or pet rat Scabbers. I would see many people carrying broomsticks and know that I was not witnessing a major janitorial reunion. I was really among people who shared a fascination about the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and all the other magical wonders within the book pages.

If I was unfamiliar with the Harry Potter series, I would not know how to talk to the "crazy" people at the bookstore. The fans' minds would be filled with stories and episodes from the books. They would have these stories indexed to such a degree that an everyday word like "car" or "train" could trigger images from the second Harry Potter book with the flying car scene.

Though I have read six of the seven Harry Potter books, my husband, Casey, would be able to converse more intelligently about the series. On July 20th, he attended the midnight release of the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series. He finished the book in one day. Since the 20th, Casey has read one chapter of the book a day over the telephone to me so that we might have deeper conversations in regards to the literature. Gary Saul Morson from the foreword commented, "Popular fiction or well-known narratives in mass culture, such as television programs or movies, also provoke intense conversations. . . .Such popular works allow us to speak to those like ourselves about questions interesting to us. . . .The conversations are going on now, and if one waits, one may see the film but will miss the dialogues about it" (p. xvii).

Television shows have seemed to wait on commenting on the last Harry Potter book so that more of the viewing population could feel apart of this unique storytelling event.

Within conversations, Harry Potter readers will remind what has already happened in the previous six books. As Schank stressed, "Reminding is the basis of much of our conversation and our thought" (p. 19).

Some storytellers have connected with their listeners by adapting the popular literature into their repertoire. A storyteller dressed as Hagrid, the half-giant and gamekeeper at the Hogwarts School, to share stories of magic in Louisville, Kentucky. Many library summer reading programs had storytimes to connect with themes due to the positive reactions to Harry Potter.

Even as I wrote these comments, I have used several words from the Harry Potter books that I can simply say and not explain since "culturally common stories are usually referred to rather than told" (p. 38).

So if at any moment we feel unintelligent, the easiest way to feel connected may be to discover the culturally common stories. Perhaps this explains why some movies, shows, or books are "must sees" or "must reads". We are striving to feel intelligent.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
(801) 870-5799

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