Friday, August 22, 2014

Manifesto - Make something beautiful

This picture comes from "A New Year's Present to the little ones from five to twelve. Part III." It's the first time a Santa was in a sleigh or had a reindeer. Such a simple picture but it changed the world and helped to inspire "The Night Before Christmas" which turned Christmas into a holiday about family, generosity, and wonder. For this reason this picture and poem, based on folk lore from The Forest Finns, the Dutch, the English, and the Germans has perhaps  done more than all the Olympics, Nobel Prizes, etc., to bring peace and happiness to people.

Modern scholars would have hated these poems if they had come out in our time, just as most critics hated "Star Wars," and many folklorists often hate Disney.

The truth, however, is that good stories and art are the ones which change the world, or at least improve someone's life. They give us moments of magic, help us feel better emotionally. It's been shown that the right picture can reduce depression, improve concentration, and more. The right pictures in this case being beautiful pictures of nature, or cute things. The right stories, too can inspire generations of people, and often these works of art and stories are inspired by fairy tales.

However, as I studied cross-cultural psychology focusing on folkloristics I found scholars acknowledging in the intro's and prefaces to their books that folkloristics is the driest field to study something interesting. Yet they then go on to write dry books which study the means of studying folklore.

Yes this is useful for textbooks, but it serves only one real purpose, to help scholars understand scholarship. In order to make these scholarly articles and books relevant for people we have to use them to make books that are interesting as useful for other purposes. Briggs, has done a great job with this in her books on fairies, but such scholarship is limited to England and  only goes so far.

I wanted to create something different, something with a purpose, and the purpose I chose was to help writers and artists, because they can change the world. Yes the things that artists and writers say they want such as archetypes are things that scholars hate, but there are lots of books on folklore that are useful for scholars, and hundreds of journal articles published every year as well.

So while I may pour through scholarly articles, books, etc., most of us have to have a different purpose than just writing these articles, we have to apply them to something. I've decided to apply them to help the people who make the world a more beautiful place through stories.