Life of Pi

Storytelling: An orchestration of words

A quick retelling of this tale in stop motion animation

Life of Pi - A Stop Motion Animation

One simple thought leading to one complex question.

Do you ever wonder, perhaps while lying awake in bed and asking a healthy dosage of philosophical questions, what our purpose is? Why are we here? I am here to tell you that while the answer is not definite, it may be found in stories. We strive to outlast time, and to beat the sole dimension that bounds us, because, as humans, we are pretty stubborn! We try to achieve the impossible and grasp that which we cannot. And is that not the origins of writing and art? To capture our essence of creativity and imagination? Is history not the greatest story a man has ever written?

“I have a story that will make you believe in God.”

Immediately we are drawn in. People are so attuned to listening to stories, heeding their words and learning from them. It is how way we interact. And sometimes the words are so well orchestrated, that we get lost, we forget the reality and question whether this happened or not. I know I did at least, whilst reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. There are stories within stories within stories. Some true and some not. But how can we tell? We have a curious ability to embrace the unknown. We always question it, but we can embrace it.

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Here, Yann Martell asks us to forego all preconceived notions of religion and simply walk with him on this journey. We blindly believe the author, and accept that this story is one about God and that is that.

Storytelling is at the heart of our culture. It is at the heart of every religion. It makes us question. It helps us learn. It is so deeply rooted within our culture we sometimes forget its there. And even Pi, whilst stranded in the middle of an ocean with his fearsome Tiger counterpart, Richard Parker, says that the one thing he wishes for more than anything was neither food nor water. It was a book. For a book has the power to occupy your mind and touch your heart. Is it possible that a book could be so powerful it could save a man? Maybe so, for a story can sway us, and shield our eyes from the truth.

Lies, lies. All lies! So why do we tell them then?

There never was a Richard Parker; there was only ever a Pi Patel. And even he is only in the imaginations of some. Yann Martell manages to ask us to take a simple leap of faith, to believe in the story for what it is and nothing more. Such an interesting notion to think, that stories are a bunch of lies that we tell each other. Exaggerations and figments of our imaginations. So I will ask again, why do we tell them then?

Who knows?

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

To question every fact would eventually drive you insane and Yann Martell insinuates the idea that you should learn to accept and take a chance, just go along for the ride. Storytelling is something so intrinsic to our people that our very nature and culture seems to be based on it.

Do you ever wonder if...

Exactly! Stories let us wonder if. They let us wonder anything!

We tell stories so that we believe. So maybe we can believe that "this story will make us believe in God." Or that Pi Patel really did survive 227 days on the ocean with an adult Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. We learn from others and we give ourselves the opportunity to believe in something bigger than ourselves, to believe in our imagiations as they unfold. We give ourselves the opportunity to answer unanswerable questions and salvage apart of us that we thought we lost. Pi does this. He tells the story of Richard Parker, so that he may never think of the atrocities he had to commit while at sea. Stories offer a brief moment of respite so for once we can have a blind faith in something that is not the reality. Stories let us lie.

Stories are orchestrations of words that allow us to be bigger than ourselves