Storytelling is the essence of communication. The elements of storytelling are like letters of the alphabet. When you know how to use them, you can tell your best story.
Element 6: Contradiction
Good stories should capture the contradictions and complications of real life and real people.
Case study: Lolo Loren
Who she is:
Lolo Loren is an artist whose work reverberates with contradiction. Her paintings are, mostly, large-scale abstract explosions of lines, colours and forms. She works fast and intuitively, spreading dark or bright lashings of pigment over canvas, according to her mood. All sorts of materials find their way into Lolo’s art: concrete, wood, dead hedgehogs, and scrapes, which she coats with lacquer.
Lolo is also a mother, an entrepreneur and an expat.
Why it matters:
Stories hinge on tension, and nothing creates tension like contradiction. As an artist, Lolo relies on intuition and abandon to create. As a mother, she is a stickler for old-fashioned manners. As a painter, she incorporates found objects into her free-flowing vision. As a businesswoman, she discovered it is essential to glue these elements in place with lacquer to prevent the work from falling apart. As a Dutch citizen in Spain, she bemoans the conformity and greyness of the country she left but her coffee table in Ibiza is laden with magazines from the Netherlands.
Everyone has his or her own set of contradictions, because all of us play a variety of roles in life. When the artist, the storyteller, is bold enough to express and embody contradictory truths, it gives depth and character to her work.
In her own words:
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
Practice:“To accept duality is to earn identity. And identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in…. you need to argue yourself down, because somebody else will. Somebody’s going to come at you, and whatever your belief, your idea, your ambition, somebody’s going to question it. And unless you have first, you won’t be able to answer back, you won’t be able to hold your ground. You don’t believe me, try taking a stand on just one leg. You need to see both sides.” ~Joss Whedon
Remember: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald