OCEAN - OCEANS
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• SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info -Ocean-Oceans
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
Teachers and Librarians
SOS: SEARCHING OUT STORIES AND INFORMATION OCEAN - OCEANS
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)
Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them for more information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Storytell posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.
1) The original title of the printed source of this Persian story is "Le cercle des menteurs" by Jean-Claude Carriere. I have the book in its Spanish translation, so I do not know the publisher in France.
The story the way Carriere relates it:
"Facing the Ocean"
An ancient Persian story describes the storyteller as an isolated man, standing on a rock facing the ocean. he tells without pause one story after the other, stopping only to sip water once in a while.
The ocean, fascinated, listens calmly.
[The anonymous author adds:]
If one day the teller stops, or someone makes him stop, nobody knows what the ocean might do.
I asked a storyteller from Iran whether he knew this story and he said that he had never heard it, but there is this custom on the Indian ocean coastal area: the women sing to the sea to keep it calm so their men who are sailing will be safe. We have the same custom on the Greek islands.
Also the severed head of Orpheus - they say it arrived at the island of Lesbos after being thrown into the sea by the Maenads and sits there on a rock singing to the fascinated waves.
Manya M., Greece
a) That reminds me of the drumming of Skarl, which does not cease "for if he cease for an instant then MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI will start awake, and there will be worlds nor gods no more." From The Gods of Pegana by Lord Dunsany. MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI created the gods and Skarl and then fell asleep, and some say the world is the echo of the drumming of Skarl, others the dream of MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI.
2) Editor's note for book called Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Puffin Books) by Salman Rushdie:
Immediately forget any preconceptions you may have about Salman Rushdie and the controversy that has swirled around his million-dollar head. You should instead know that he is one of the best contemporary writers of fables and parables, from any culture. This is a delightful tale about a storyteller who loses his skill and a struggle against mysterious forces attempting to block the seas of inspiration from which all stories are derived. Here's a representative passage about the sources and power of inspiration:
>So Iff the water genie told Haroun about the Ocean of the Stream of Stories, and even though he was full of a sense of hopelessness and failure the magic of the Ocean began to have an effect on Haroun. He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale. Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in the universe. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more than a storeroom of
yarns. It was not dead, but alive.
"And if you are very, very careful, or very, very highly skilled, you can dip a cup into the Ocean," Iff told Haroun, "like so," and here he produced a little golden cup from another of his waistcoat pockets, "and you can fill it with water from a single, pure Stream of Story, like so," as he did precisely that.<
3) He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale. Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, The Ocean of Story : Being C. H. Tawney's Translation of Somadeva's Katha Sarit Sagara (or Ocean of Streams of Story) (10 Volume set)
was in fact the biggest library in the universe.
4) You might be surprised to hear that I have The Ocean of Story just behind me. Rushdie's poetic fantasy was firmly based on the real one, or "Katha Sarit Sagara," to give it it's proper Sanskrit title, compiled by Somadeva over a thousand years ago. Here is a little from the introduction to the definitive translation by Penzer and Tawney:
"He felt that his great work united in itself all stories, as the ocean does all rivers. Every stream of myth and mystery flowing down from the snowy heights of sacred Himalaya would sooner or later reach the ocean, other streams from other mountains would do likewise, till at last fantasy would create an ocean full of stories of every conceivable description...
Following out his metaphor he has dividied the work into one hundred and twenty-four chapters, called taragas - 'waves' or 'billows' - while a further (and independent) division into eighteen lambakas - 'surges' or 'swells' - was made by Brockhurst, whose text is that used by Tawney [for translation].
The whole work contains 22,000 distichs, or slokas, which gives some idea or its immense size. It is nearly twice as long as the Iliad and Odyssey put together."
I should mention that although the Ocean of Story was meant to contain all known stories, it is supposed to have been taken from a much earlier and larger work that was 32 times longer, but which has since been lost. If I tell you that my copy of the Ocean takes up 10 large quarto volumes, you'll see that the earlier Great Story would have filled an entire wall. On another point, it isn't just watery streams that flow down from mountains - in the sacred dimension all mountains, and especially the Himalaya, are symbols of the heights of spiritual consciousness and the abode of the gods, and therefore what flows from them is wisdom and the waters of life. The ocean is no arbitrary metaphor.
5) The same ten volumes sit here on my shelves for over twenty years. Probably the most wonderful gift that I ever received. the tale of the origin of the stories, and how so many of them were lost, is a fabulous one recently retold by Joan Sutton in California. I am going to write to her to find a strong version of the tale, which she garnered from many different details. I think in the end one tenth of the stories were saved from being burned, but as they were burned the storyteller/diety was reciting the stories and the animals heard them , those who are scattered over the world still.
Among the Inuit it is customary that while the man hunts for seals,, the women dream in trance below the smoke hole. they are calling the soul of the whale to surrender itself to the hunt. if the soul of the whale does not appear, there is no success on the hunt.
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