Maria Popova: ‘A great story invites an expansion of understanding’
“A great storyteller dances up the ladder of understanding, from information to knowledge to wisdom,” Maria Popova writes. (Photo by Mallary Tenore.)
The video — which is just as entertaining to watch as it is to listen to — highlights the importance of storytellers in a world that’s awash with information. Storytellers, Popova says, help us make sense of the complexity of the world and enable us to gain not just knowledge, but wisdom.
Popova, who runs the popular blog BrainPickings, explains:
“A great storyteller — whether a journalist or editor or filmmaker or curator — helps people figure out not only what matters in the world, but also why it matters. A great storyteller dances up the ladder of understanding, from information to knowledge to wisdom. Through symbol, metaphor, and association, the storyteller helps us interpret information, integrate it with our existing knowledge, and transmute that into wisdom.
“Susan Sontag once said that ‘reading sets standards.’ Storytelling not only sets standards but, at its best, makes us want to live up to them, to transcend them.
“A great story, then, is not about providing information, though it can certainly inform — a great story invites an expansion of understanding, a self-transcendence. More than that, it plants the seed for it and makes it impossible to do anything but grow a new understanding — of the world, of our place in it, of ourselves, of some subtle or monumental aspect of existence.
“At a time when information is increasingly cheap and wisdom increasingly expensive, this gap is where the modern storyteller’s value lives.”
You can watch the animated video below and read the script, with added context, here.