Culture, Humor, Storytelling

Look around and we can see certain cultural differences in terms of storytelling. Facts are facts but when it comes to storytelling, humor, politics or philosophies, it's very interesting to note the differences and also difficulty of communication. For example, many Japanese movies have to be "westernized" and "re-plotted" for the American audiences, or American humor has to be explained to people from other countries. I find this fascinating.

Take the following short story by Izumi Kyoka for example:

I love the narrative, the descriptive language and the vividness of the storytelling, but I can't understand the ending. Or does it even have an ending? What does the story mean?

In western cultures, it seems that stories must have an arc: a beginning, middle, and end. Stories need to "make sense" with certain resolution or revelation. Not so in Asian cultures -- stories are often circular, and sometimes without any ending: they are more about themes, thoughts and experiences. Chinese poetry, for example, is usually about nature, landscapes, with layered meanings/subtexts hidden inside.

What are your take on this? Do you read literature from other cultures? Do you have difficulty understanding or interpreting their meanings and themes? Does it help or hinder your own writing?


I've never really given much thought to the differences in descriptive language before. I've recently read literature from other cultures and I do find that the language seems more poetic in comparison. Depending on what I'm reading and the nature of the book, I sometimes find difficulty in understanding the meaning behind certain terms or themes. It's more of my lack of knowledge than the author's though.

I've noticed you've been speaking about different aspects of writing in your blog lately. How things affect our writing and how our words are interpreted. add to the theme of your recent writing, I've tagged you with a "writing strengths" meme. I know what your writing strengths are because I've read your work. I'd love to hear what you view as your strengths.

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