“It is an ancient need to be told stories. But the story needs a great storyteller.”
This last month was a terrible and sorrowful one for the artistic world. Renowned musician David Bowie and exemplary actor Alan Rickman both passed away from cancer within days of each other. Both were amazingly creative individuals and masters of their craft. Both were also amazing storytellers, bringing to life their own unique visions, be it through Bowie’s music or Rickman’s interpretation of his characters. Both added to our creative world, often in ways that defy explanation or quantification. As such, the world is a darker place for their loss.
The above quote was sent from Alan Rickman in an open letter to Empire Magazine in honor of J.K. Rolling on the eve of his final voice recording session for the harry Potter series, intended for the Pensieve memory scenes in The Deathly Hallows. This quote really resonated with me as I believe that there is a part of mankind as a whole which longs for some sort of ancestral myth or memory -an ancient story, if you will- that can give us hope or inspire us, something to educate us as to our greater natures and our deeper mysteries, to warn us of waiting pitfalls, something that ultimately pushes us to become better individuals and in turn, a better species.
I think this goes much farther that just education or even mythology. I think storytelling is the well of our inspiration and creativity as a race. In the ancient world, storytelling was the only vehicle for not only entertainment but also history. Lessons from a tribe’s past were passed from member to member, generation to generation. Over time, the message changed multiple times, evolving as the needs of the society changed, bringing with it new lessons and new heroes.
Our ability to understand our world and our universe and to conquer the unknown is only possible because of -and always overshadowed by- our ability to imagine, to create in our minds something to new, to put forth that vision, that dream and make others share in the amazing and fantastic. Our destiny is reliant upon our ability to make real our dreams. In this, Rickman and Bowie gave us demons and angels to believe in, to dream with, avatars for our own souls that allowed us to imagine more, believe more.
We’ve suffered two terrible losses to our world. Artistic vision and excellence such as Rickman’s and Bowie’s is rare. They shall be missed and those that remember their works should strive to excel in the same way, creating innovative, genre-defying art with a heart of integrity and honesty. By creating something new, you are accessing something ancient and eternal in all of us. Let them be your inspiration; it is the greatest memorium that you can give.
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” – Luna Lovegood.