Value of Narratives

Discussions unearthing human history including cultural anthropology, linguistics, etc.

Value of Narratives

Postby BadgerJelly on December 19th, 2016, 3:17 pm 

Sorry if the the title is misleading. I have done some online searches, but nothing has come up :(

What I am looking for is some approximation of how isolated cultures have used stories as an actual commodity. Obviously in our society we buy books and apply monetary value to books. I am curious about stories being used as an actual "monetary" system.

I think it fair to say that people would offer food and goods for a good yarn. Once someone has the yarn they can then pass it on and receive food and goods too and if they are experts at telling the story they can probably be able to entertain with repeat tellings.

Anthropologists try to steer clear of making assumptions about what may have happened. I can imagine that story telling was certainly an important social activity, just as it is today. As entertainment, in prehistory, we can only guess at its value and importance.

Anyway, to cut to it I have had an idea for a novel for some time and have been trying to play around with the idea of stories used as a complimentary monetary system (it is a play on several ideas I won't bore you with).

So I am looking for any information regarding the exchange of stories between tribes that are used for prestege, part of trade agreements and things like that.

I know its a weird one, but thought I'd ask you weirdos!
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Re: Value of Narratives

Postby Forest_Dump on December 19th, 2016, 8:22 pm 

I don't think I can be of any help here. Stories definitely were important among all peoples who didn't have a written record and were vital for survival in many ways. A good story helps memory. And of course a good story teller would be welcome around any camp or cooking fire and certainly could gain respect and renown as well as political clout. Bringing news from afar was also always welcome (which of course raises the question of "isolated" in the OP.) But the problem with its use as a commodity is in the very nature. Without any meanings of protecting copyright (getting almost impossible even in this day and age) once a story is told, it is immediately common property. And any and every aspect of the story teller is also subject to immediate copying, parodying and improvement.
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Re: Value of Narratives

Postby Athena on December 19th, 2016, 11:37 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 19th, 2016, 1:17 pm wrote:Sorry if the the title is misleading. I have done some online searches, but nothing has come up :(

What I am looking for is some approximation of how isolated cultures have used stories as an actual commodity. Obviously in our society we buy books and apply monetary value to books. I am curious about stories being used as an actual "monetary" system.

I think it fair to say that people would offer food and goods for a good yarn. Once someone has the yarn they can then pass it on and receive food and goods too and if they are experts at telling the story they can probably be able to entertain with repeat tellings.

Anthropologists try to steer clear of making assumptions about what may have happened. I can imagine that story telling was certainly an important social activity, just as it is today. As entertainment, in prehistory, we can only guess at its value and importance.

Anyway, to cut to it I have had an idea for a novel for some time and have been trying to play around with the idea of stories used as a complimentary monetary system (it is a play on several ideas I won't bore you with).

So I am looking for any information regarding the exchange of stories between tribes that are used for prestege, part of trade agreements and things like that.

I know its a weird one, but thought I'd ask you weirdos!


I immediately think of how the Greeks endeared themselves to the Egyptians by encouraging Eygpt's religious practices such as mummifying birds and cats as well as well as people, and marketing all the religious paraphernalia. This was great for the economy and made people happy.

A huge problem in Byzantine was one leader would encourage the market in religious icons and business would be booming for the artisans, and the next ruler would declare the religious images taboo and order them destroyed. A lot of damage was done economically and especially to morale so they could not defend themselves from invading barbarians. Isn't this marketing a story?

Today millions of dollars are being made with virtual reality games. These are nothing but story tell and in fantasy playing the different roles in these fantasies, while paying real money to buy imaginary farms, or warriors, or a fancy coat for one's imaginary cat. I think our government should replace taxes with these games. People hate paying taxes, and they love spending real money on this imaginary stuff.

I hope that is on topic and I am sorry if I missed the mark.
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