Friday, September 10, 2004

The NE course was quite enjoyable, though I was the only one representing our college. Should have invited some others to join me as it felt a bit lonely and strange, and I think a few of our staff would have enjoyed themselves too. Anyone interested in storytelling would have benefited and those of us (like me) who love stories but can't tell one for beans got a real boost in our storytelling abilities as the presenters slowly built our confidence up step by baby step.

To be honest, most of the NE stuff was forgotten as we learned to craft tales from our personal experiences and from a chosen story that we had to prepare last night. At least, I was more interested in learning the skill to see how it might apply to GP and to lit. After all, storytelling is such a forgotten art form that only a select few know how to do it really well, and the rest of us don't seem to bother with it so much any more.

As our opening speaker, Gopi, said, today we let other people tell stories to us, usually large corporations under the behemoth known as "Hollywood." We now rely so much on 'realistic' visual stimulation from TV drama and cinema SFX that we have lost the need to listen to each other and create for ourselves individual interpretations of reality using our own imaginations. Instead of sharing a common vision, we are all plugged into the exact same one and we lose ourselves in the process. No wonder we are now having so much trouble with studying literature -- the subject forces us to utilize the brain 'muscles' that we have allowed to atrophy due to a severe lack of constant exercise, all thanks to the convenience and attractiveness of modern electronic media.

The seminar showed me a couple of things. First, storytelling is an acquired skill, and anyone can pick it up regardless of how incompetent one may feel initially. Second, the craft is really honed in the telling of stories in front of an audience, not so much in the rehearsing of the story beforehand (i.e., to be a good storyteller you must tell stories). Third, simple stories work best for both teller and audience -- don't get too clever or creative or whatever; a delivery that is natural to oneself always works best. Fourth, we all love telling stories, despite what I said earlier. That's why some of us blog, right? The rest of us just yak till the cows come home.

Since storytelling is such an important skill, perhaps my next batch of year ones will begin first term next year just learning to tell stories. GP as a subject can wait. What do you think, folks?

Other notes: Apollo Hotel fed us really well. Lunch was a luxuriously long 1-and-a-quarter hours at the all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. Must especially mention the salmon sashimi which was so fresh. Haven't tasted sashimi this good since that breakfast at Kansai Airport's Takashimaya last year. The spread was generally light and dainty, so you always felt that there was room for one-more-plateful... This includes the meat dishes, fish, chicken, satay and whatever else there was (I'm not big on buffet meats, myself) and the desserts as well. And, yes, we must always make room for dessert. The brownies (a bit sweet), American cheesecake (cut to look like tiny sailboards), chocolate cake (that looked like nougat on a chocolate base), and ice-cream bythetubandhelpyourselfthankyou. *waves to Jenny and Bina who kept me company at the lunch table. MINDEF officers, if you must know.

Oh, and one more point. Jack Neo didn't show up after all. He was scheduled for tomorrow's session but since the organizers combined both sessions into today, Chan Soo Sen (him with the big portfolio), today's keynote speaker, spoke instead.

OK. To all who are taking tomorrow's GP prelim, go sleep now. Come in with a fresh mind and a rested body. Good luck and enjoy your paper tomorrow!

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