Whale Tales and Whoppers
Fishy Tales ~
Hooking or Baiting Us?
The bigger the epic story, the bigger the value? true? Not necessarily!
All one has to do is pay attention to the explosion of social media, TV channels, video, internet, cell phone cameras. I remember when Google announced that video uploads on YouTube equaled 24 hours EVERY MINUTE. That’s just YouTube! There are hundreds of other video online services such as Hula, Vimeo or Amazon and social media, dating sites like Twitter, Facebook, Match.com that people tell their stories...their version....their take on a subject...yet some true while others fabrications for entertainment value.
And, it does not take much to conclude this proliferation with almost everyone now possessing a cell phone that is also a camera and video recording device. Like any explosion of different human habits, unintended consequences likely appear. I venture to guess these devices alter our world and irrevocably alter our attitudes, behaviors, daily habits… and not always for the better. The very nature of excessive and addictive activities can not help but ultimately lead people towards more unbalanced, unstable and dysfunctional lives. And almost before we become aware, we become hooked and then don’t realize or understand we humans are the ones being reeled in and caught.
Ahab had some addictive issues believing Moby Dick,
a white whale could "get a leg up" on him.
Revenge can make people crazy.
Fishing has often been a sport prone to exaggeration. "Boy, you should have seen the one that got away?" Exaggeration is often revealed as a significant part of tales, yarns, fables, myths, fantasies, folklores, fairy tales, legends, gods, fish tales, whoppers, rumors, gossips, white lies, lies, history books, novels, movies and conversations. Fabrication, hyperbole, blowing details out of proportion, making events bigger than they really were, making a "mountain out of a molehill" or stretching the truth are so common, they are part of our human fabric.
Would loved to have listened to the story of how these three fishermen caught the big one. Certainly might lure me to Minnesota with my rod and reel.How big was the one that got away. Do these whoppers show us as...Diverting or Deceiving? Captivating or Capturing?Dangling a Tasty Treat or a Titillating Trick?
I wouldn't have known these were improbable postcards unless I was told otherwise. Can we see what aspects of this photo are unlikely? Did this obvious advertising gimmick work? Can we humans recognize the difference between fact and fiction? What do these fish tales tell us about human nature?
In Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, Santiago believed he had hooked the fish; little did he realize it was the fish that hooked him and took him on an unexpected ride. Who has hooked whom? Whose tale tells what really happened? If only fish could tell their tail from their tale.
Tales captivate and capture us:
Story-telling and story-listening/watching have long been enticing, entertaining and entrapping human activities. Like lures, stories often allure; they tease, titillate and even tempt us. Because human are such social creatures, their “tale hunger” and “tail hunger” often feeds their curiosity about others’ lives. Like fish, humans either take the bait, bite on the hook or wait for a more enticing lure. But unlike fish, we don’t survive under water, without oxygen. Deep down in the depths of our souls, we know our connection with others is often our life line. Its our relationship ties that often help or hurt us to reach surface survival. Ironically, as we humans cast these story lines, we nibble on those lines until they capture us, hook, line and sinker. The only difference between fish and us is that we catch and capture ourselves hooked by our own devises. Like fish, we don’t realize we are hooked until we are pulled in.
While I don’t have exact statistics or population percentages of what portion of a day the average person spends experiencing either real or imaginary tales and travails of others, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover an average American spends well over 50% of his time in this pursuit. Whether it is spent on cell phone’s conversing, gabbing, (just saying stuff), gossiping, watching TV soaps, sitcoms, reality series, videos, movies, or reading / writing / sharing blog posts, for many these activities consume our days. No matter what socio-economic level one comes from, it has to be staggering number of hours spent.
Do our yarns lure or rescue or or distract or simply entertain us?
We already know most sea stories lack credibility. Nothing like a reassuring title to lure the skeptical reader.
Amazing how using the word "TRUE" would make the stories more truthful and thus more enticing. So when does fact become more exciting than fiction?
Does a book's cover tell a separate tale?
The biblical tale of Jonah being swallowed by a whale and then spewed out on some land could suggest man isn't very tasty, digestible or appreciative. How might children digest this tale?
I wonder how many have asked their parents for their first fishing rod or boat ride after reading this myth.
Whales certainly have made a large impact on human dictionaries.
Telling a whopper, catching one or eating one are, for all intents and purposes, very similar. Each are exaggerated acts. They also all defy reality, while needing it. Otherwise, if humans didn't have the comparison, they could believe such things are normal. And what would happen to our world if abnormal becomes the norm? Maybe we will live to find out.
Poseidon, God of the Greek seas, road his surf with his sea-stallioned chariot .
In the Odyssey, Odysseus has his crew tie him to the mast while they row
with wax in their ears as the Sirens sing their luring song.
Odysseus chooses to lose 6 men to Scylla rather than his whole crew and ship to the maelstrom Charybdis.
Aqua Man to the rescue? Children have to have an aquatic comic book hero. Some superhero has to tame the denizens of the deep. Boy, did I want to believe all these tales when I was a boy.
Tall Tales ~
Thought I had should include some additional pix of a few land-based folklore and fantasy. Don't want to leave the impression that most fishy tale exaggeration is purely water-based. There will never be a shortage of tall tales in every culture on land as well as sea. Because reality and fantasy need each other, humans shouldn't ever be bored no matter where they venture. As long as human imagination lives so too will wild and fantastic tales tickle our fancy....as well as our tails....or fannies, if you prefer.
Stories transport our thoughts to places we dream about. They awe us with their glitz and glamor. They lighten our burdens and help us understand the world. They help us cope with our burdens by helping us escape. They capture our minds and beings while our bodies remain seated. And as they do this, they greatly influence human values, beliefs, perceptions and actions. We all grow up with fantasy, but how well we transition to what is literal, what is figurative. It is the same as being able to decipher what is real and what isn't. What is a figment of our imagination and what is real.
Maybe we should ask children, or better yet - our past selves. How did we feel or cope when we discovered first discovered Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, Halloween ghosts and goblins or the American Dream were little more than hoaxes? How credible did your parents, your school or your world appear after those so-called "untruths" or "white lies" were revealed?
How did we know what to trust after those? And why do we trust anything or anyone today? Maybe because we want to trust their stories. After all, we often suspend reality when we open up a novel or take a seat in a theatre. We all want to believe. Maybe that is why we think we understand and can accept that
The whale as anachronism -
something belonging to the past not fitting into the present.