TALE SPINNING- Transformation

Since ancient times, a cold winter’s night has been the perfect time to spin a tale, and traditionally the folks who were spinning tales were also spinning wool or flax into thread.

I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

We’re listening to the sound of a spinning wheel, a device which has itself become interwoven into the magic of storytelling.

“Many of our most beloved fairy tales involve spinning.”

Author Boria Sax is a scholar of mythology and folklore.

“Spinning, perhaps more than any other everyday activity, was overlaid with magical associations. I think that might be that of all of the comparatively early technologies this would transform the material which it used most profoundly. Spinning would start with fax or wool and it would transform that into something that looked completely different and this transformation is at least part of the basis for stories in which straw might be spun into gold.”

The act of storytelling itself is a kind of transformation.

“Our thoughts and experiences as they come to us are relatively formless, but when we make stories of them, we transform them into something very different, very much the same way a spinner would transform flax or wool into a thread which is then later transformed into a garment.”

Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

TALE SPINNING- Transformation

The spinning wheel is at the heart of many of our favorite fairy tales.
Air Date:12/29/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

Since ancient times, a cold winter's night has been the perfect time to spin a tale, and traditionally the folks who were spinning tales were also spinning wool or flax into thread.

I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

We're listening to the sound of a spinning wheel, a device which has itself become interwoven into the magic of storytelling.

"Many of our most beloved fairy tales involve spinning."

Author Boria Sax is a scholar of mythology and folklore.

"Spinning, perhaps more than any other everyday activity, was overlaid with magical associations. I think that might be that of all of the comparatively early technologies this would transform the material which it used most profoundly. Spinning would start with fax or wool and it would transform that into something that looked completely different and this transformation is at least part of the basis for stories in which straw might be spun into gold."

The act of storytelling itself is a kind of transformation.

"Our thoughts and experiences as they come to us are relatively formless, but when we make stories of them, we transform them into something very different, very much the same way a spinner would transform flax or wool into a thread which is then later transformed into a garment."

Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.