The materials of storytelling | Core model | The threefold

By Limor Shiponi

Defining the core model of storytelling might prove a tricky task since the vocabulary around it is very unclear or unsettled. Since I see storytelling as an equilibrium of partnership in exchange – that to my opinion is it’s core model.

The threefold

Storytelling | core modelIt is rather evident that the number three has great significance in storytelling as it has in many other fields. In it’s core model, three turns into a dynamic threefold as dully presented in the attached illustration. If you can imagine a 3D fuzzy triangle with a lot of movement going on inside it, that would be more likely. For the purpose of this discussion, the illustration is easier.

Notice I’ve placed the common names of the partners in brackets (storyteller, listener, story) yet I call them differently and this needs to be explained:

Messenger (storyteller) – very often you will hear storytellers saying “I’m the messenger for the story” “I’m the channel” or “the tube” “the weaver”. If storytelling is partnership in exchange this makes very much sense. It might surprise many to realize this especially in the light of the endless search for ownership. Storytellers do not own the story but the channel and what makes up their ability to channel and participate in a storytelling event.

Who’s messengers are we? that is a philosophical, spiritual and practical question which for now I will leave open for others to comment on. There can be many answers to this question but they are not endless. The difference between storytelling and propaganda for instance lies in the space of this possible discussion as do the claims of storytelling being unethical.

Witness (listener) – in storytelling, the witness defines messenger from prophet. Without the witness our art does not exists since it has no reason to. Remember, this is partnership in exchange and the witness is not there only to witness the exchange between messenger and utterance but is part of what makes up the entire event through validation and influence.

The messenger should be considered a witness too but only if there is another person witnessing with him. As noted in an earlier post, storytelling evolved out of “the need to communicate something beyond the obvious to someone besides yourself”. On a deeper level, the utterance holds the possibility of witnessing too.

Utterance (story) – very simply, if it’s storytelling there are words spoken in close proximity and they are settled into some structures (good enough for now) that will give them enough power to be part of the partnership in exchange which makes storytelling. If you want a little more here – I see utterance as codification, a key, a capsule that can move around easily which contains an extract of life waiting to live again through the threefold.

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