Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it. – Gabriel García Márquez
Narration and myth exist prior to writing and are a core element of thought and culture. In every culture, the narration of stories holds a special position as the tissue connecting the collective subconscious is woven by them. The Celts used to say that only storytellers could become teachers and, in India, storytelling was of a ritualistic nature, as through it people could approach the divine. In ancient Greece, the role of myth was to awaken people, to unravel the darkness which hinders their inner vision and to help them see things as they really are. The Aborigines believed that stories are equivalent to a revival of common experiences and to the Indian tribes of North America oral storytelling would assure the continuation of their tradition.
The stories act as bridges, designed to help us overcome our isolation and to reunite with the world and our fellow human beings. We invent stories, we read stories and we hear stories. Our life is interwoven with and corresponds to them. Our thought takes shape through narratives. We evolved though stories and narratives jointly built, using them from the earliest years of our life to put our experiences into coherent meanings and to bequeath the collective identity, the wisdom and the experience to the next generation which will be able to build on these values and to walk through life.
Stories smooth the filaments that join people’s souls together in an indiscernible way, consolidating the indissoluble unity of human behaviors. They forge the family connections between people and act as a means of redefinition of the individual identity. Through storytelling, each one of us is given the possibility to sink into the world of the other, to feel his passions and his weaknesses, the powers that form his psyche and, participating to this revealing experience, to return to himself. This empathy not only reinforces the bonds with the other and with the community giving substance to humanity, but also acts as an experience of self-awareness, as an insight into the essence of human existence. We cannot be if we don’t become the other, we can see ourselves only through our immersion in the world of the other. Our emotions would be slippery if they didn’t find answers in another human being, our passions would be withered if they didn’t enchant other souls too, our worries would remain suspended if they didn’t define someone else as well. We mentally carry inside us the stories of people we know and they mold us, dribbling down our unconscious, as the water molds the stone.
Sharing human stories essentially entails sharing knowledge and experiences, which itself involves the storyteller’s commitment to the listener in a deeper form of communication focusing on the mental and spiritual richness of human existence. By grafting our lives with stories, we keep myth alive and we feed man’s primordial need to lend a meaning to his life.
The logic of stories is closer to the logic of poetry which doesn’t lead us to clear conclusions or to unquestioning convictions. It only stirs the imagination, cultivates inner understanding and makes it more important than rationalization. Only stories can make truth from lies or find the secret pathway to the core of life. Stories connect with the voices of deeply hidden emotions, recollecting the things we cannot say, the things that cannot be expressed but groan inside the burrow of our soul. They take our hand and lead us to the hidden hatch, where no flower grows without a fertile soil, where victories reside in the defeats and discordance cohere into melody. They “force” us to experience life as an entity where every note sounds clearly, where no arcade is sealed and no conviction prevails. They are always paradoxical and mystifying to some extent, as life is too. The language of logical arguments and proofs is the language of self-restraint, whereas the language of poetry, of stories and myths is the language of dreamers. They provide a continuation of our experiences and assure us that imagination is more powerful than knowledge, that myth is more necessary that reality, that dreams themselves are more essential that their interpretation.
When architects want to support an unstable arch, they add weight below it to strengthen the joints of its parts… this is what stories do too in times of crisis… they strengthen separate joints of our soul. “Sometimes we need stories more than food to stay alive”, Karen Dietz said, acknowledging the therapeutic property of stories that preserve this piece inside people which makes them radiate human energy, learn to endure what cannot be escaped, stand on their feet again after a disaster and fight again to lend a meaning to their lives.
We are interested in stories that make allusions, that do not instruct, stories that reveal the greatness in defeat, man’s transcendence before what threatens to define him, stories that lead to transformation and that avoid being emotional but stay close to the dark side which shapes us.
The Caravan Project collects stories that highlight various social dynamics (racism, diversity, self-definition, solidarity etc.) and that actively help form a communication framework on major issues of our times. So, through human experience as it is documented in our stories, the public is given the possibility to discuss about modern social dynamics, thus widening its point of view on issues related to its reality. Through personal narratives, the public witnesses various aspects of the human existence as these take shape in each social environment. At the same time, they create the preconditions for a more productive-empirical connection of the public with the social reality which surrounds it. It is not a passive receiver of poor information, but is transfigured into an active observer, sharpening its social consciousness. Sharing human stories, as the Caravan Project sees it, entails sharing life-experiences, that is, learning by doing, in an animate and direct way.