Sunday, October 2, 2016

Five Second Fables: The Twitterverse on God Creating Animals

Barlow's Aesop
Twitter has been telling tales - fables, to be more precise - and apart from the funny factor, it turns out they tell us a lot about us, our stories and how we see the world.

Barlow's Aesop
Crowd sourced information gathering and storytelling is a fairly new phenomenon, made possible by the age of social media. Twitter in particular, encourages people to distill meaning down to 140 (or less) characters, which is excellent practice for writers and storytellers, and for spreading the word very, very quickly. It's even become a wide-spread tool for distilling themes (ie. "elevator pitches" which are useful in a wide variety of fields) but there are other applications storytellers and folklorists can use them for as well. Memes, with their unique form of social commentary (yes, cat memes, DO say something about society), spread ideas, create context and bridge facts with fiction, often blurring the lines between the two to create a new "thinking space" for issues.

A few years ago fairy tale scholar Donald Haase* proposed a "communal catalogue" of #TwitterTypes, which were to be new summaries of traditional tales in 140 characters or less, to be used as a modern projection of the tale types classifications. Why Twitter? In Haase's words (from his personal Facebook page):
Because the discipline of 140 characters composed on a computer or smartphone forces creative choices about a tale’s “essence,” and those choices reveal, to the Tweeter, the alternatives — the “Tweets-not-taken.”
(Note: we did actually collect as many of these #twittertypes as we could find at the time and are considering adding a page for them to be stored here, perhaps added to if folk are inspired.)

While the project started well, and proved fascinating, it didn't last long and was not very extensive, which was unfortunate, as the potential for study using this tool and tack is wonderful and very reflective of how people today think. It also reflects the methods and thinking process for how we often tell stories in this social media and visual era. The experiment, though not proving successful as a modern alternative to the Aa-Th classification system as planned, did, however, make the point of showing that tales can be told, distilled, summarized, from various cultural and personal viewpoints via this social media medium.

God creating the animals ‘The Taymouth Hours’, England 14th century.
The "creation fables" shown below, though created purely for humorous intent, tell their own silly stories, not unlike many ancestral creation tales in which gods and goddesses were seen to be just as fallible and emotional as man, deciding and acting according to their personal agendas.

Described mostly via a brief dialogue exchange with God and an angel "sidekick" (or creation-technician), there isn't a lot of narrative detail, but each imply a situation and a result, and collectively - as they were written by multiple Twitter-users in a collective "brainstorm" - they provide a snapshot of modern humor and fable. They also wonderfully illustrate storytelling via memes (or memetics).

We're sure there are folklorists out there who could easily expand this into a fascinating lecture on storytelling and sociology but for today: the lecture is over. ;)

We've decided to call these, "Five Second Fables".
The Lion reads to the Animals (Aesop's Fables), 1869, Ernest Griset
Warning: While the content included in this post is generally considered humorous, we are aware that some people may feel offended as it uses casual references to God, and describes God (and angels) using colloquial humor and some bad language. As a result, we are putting these "tweet-fables", under the jump. Please consider yourself warned and read at your own risk. We do hope though, that it will add some smiles to your Sunday.

✑  ✑  ✑  ✑  ✑  ♛ (click the "Read more" link below this line) ♛  ✑  ✑  ✑  ✑  ✑

We'll leave the analysis up to you.

* We understand Dr. Haase recently retired - happy golden years Dr. Haase!

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