Stephen Fry’s Planet Word and Storytelling

I’m crazy for this series!  Of course, everything Stephen Fry does is wonderful.  As a writer and lover of language this new series –  Fry’s Planet Word – is … well, I’m having trouble finding the right word.  It’s full of amazing things about language, identity, power, transformation … all sorts of fascinating stuff.  I want to say it’s ‘magical’, and although that word is a little overused and not exactly what I’m looking for, it is a better word than ‘awesome’.  Though I think ‘awesome’ is the word I want. Not the ‘awesome’ I used as a kid in the ’80s and not the ‘awesome’ I use now with a more sarcastic tone, but the ‘awesome’ that means ‘I am awed by this programme’, ‘I am in awe of the wonderful things I am learning.’  The most recent episode (episode 4 ‘Spreading the Word’) is about writing, so I was even more engaged than I was with the first three episodes.  I’m still not entirely certain what compels me to write, however there is a lot of talk about stories and storytelling in this episode.  That really resonated with me.  I like to tell stories – my own story, the stories of people I know, the stories of people and places and events far removed from me – that’s one reason why I have two degrees in history.  I also like to hear stories.  I like to be told stories almost more than I like to read stories, but not quite as much as I like to tell stories.  In any event, this episode has a wonderful segment filmed at MIT’s Center for Future Storytelling.  Unbelievable!  So, after I complete my degrees in creative writing (one from the University of Hawaii at Manoa) I have to go to MIT and work in this Center!  (I’m not sure how this will occur as I have no competence in either math or science, but I’ll figure it out.) The most wonderful project was presented by Dr. Ramesh Raskar.  I don’t know how it works, but the folks in the lab have invented a thingy (I’m pretty sure that’s the word he used) that can electronically capture movement.  So, connected to video and audio this thingy could enable a grandchild to experience a day-in-the-life of his grandparent years in the future.  How completely awesome is that?!  There’s another group of people in this centre led by Dr. V. Michael Bove working on a Never-Ending Drawing Machine that uses paper and pens and found objects and cameras and I-Don’t-Know-Really that allows people to tell each other stories visually across time and space.  I’m not really sure I get it, but it is totally awesome and I want one!  Just learning about these amazing storytelling machines gave me the goosebumps like when I listened to the Kumulipo (the ancient Hawaiian geneology chant) at Imiloa the science and cultural centre in Hilo, Hawaii. Who doesn’t love a good story? And, if you like writing stories you will probably like this episode of Fry’s Planet Word.

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