Thursday, March 05, 2009

I Heart History

Bear with me for a moment as I prattle on about history; not animation or story, just history. Because for some reason, I've always loved history, all the myriad of facts and the fascinating stories. Ah, and there's my answer, which I just today stumbled upon.

The past is just chock full of fascinating stories. And the best part, is that only the best and most fascinating stories survived the test of time, and they're all true! Well, of course that can be debated, but for this purpose lets steer clear of the religious and mythological and possibly biased slants.

I get quite a chill to read about these people and their lives, and to know that it's real! Our fictional stories certainly feel real, but there's a magic to think about how truly genuine the historical ones are. Lewis and Clark climbed the great divide in the American West, expecting to see the Pacific ocean on the other side, ending more than a year of travel. But they were met only with a horizon of mountains and a further vast expanse of continent to cross. What a crushing defeat for these explorers. What a cliffhanger for a storyteller. This happens so often in story, that it could possibly be considered cliche. But those were real people there in that time and place, they experienced it. It's bigger than a story.

Later on, they emerge, starving and exhausted from weeks in the mountains, and stumble upon an Indian camp. The Indians are resolving to kill them, when someone suddenly realizes that Sacajawea is a distant relation, and the explorers are offered food instead of death. Certainly a coincidence fit for a novel.

One of the most important founders of radio absolutely loved to climb things and be high up in the air. He built his own radio tower in his yard and loved to climb it. Years later, in New York City, he would climb atop the NBC building, performing ridiculous balancing acts. Even climbing to the top of the tower on the building, high above the city. Nobody wrote this character. He created himself. Imagine what he would think of the modern world, and all the wonderful things to climb.

I got both of these stories from Ken Burns documentaries, and I can't wait to find out what other fantastical stories I could learn from history, perhaps to pop up in my own work or characters.

Ok, you can go back to animation now. :)

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