“A tale is about other tales; it is also the teller and her telling, my wife would’ve said. A story written down loses because written language is an artificial technology. That story has to fictionalize a readership and its author. So in my writing down of the housekeepers tale(s), I risk losing the teller and the full mana of her tale” (Wendt 105).
Albert Wendt suggests that stories are really just about other stories. Similarly, travel experiences relate to previous travel experiences. When Marco Polo tries to relate his tales of travel, he circles back to Venice. In Black Rainbows, readers attempt to make sense of the narrative by also going back to what we know. In this scene, the searcher explains the risk involving in story telling. In a similar way, travelers relating their experiences run the same risk. When retelling accounts of traveling to exotic places, as the narrative unfolds, the speaker risks losing some of the original spark she felt in that particular city. Just as, when we attempt to record our own personal history, we risk losing some of original sensations that cannot be recreated through the written language.
In Black Rainbows, recalling or attempting to recall one’s history is equally as risky. In order to be a perfect citizen, one must purge themselves of their history. However, just like the storyteller, one’s history is not an isolated event. Stories are not merely stories, but “a tale… about other tales”. I find these claims relatable to the experience of travel and particularly, the difficulty in recounting one’s experience of travel as an isolated incident. In order to speak of travel experience, one always relies on previous experiences. Cities build upon the past in the same way. However, the notion that a “story has to fictionalize a readership and its author” is like the traveler retelling their experience and Albert Wendt attempting to draw his readers into his novel. Stories, like traveling, require a relationship between author and reader, or city and traveler. However, there is the suggestion that through written accounts, the author loses some of the original spark. This remains true with travel. The idea that written language is an “artificial technology” seems particularly appropriate when retelling travel stories. Our language feels inadequate to describe the feeling one has in a new city. The sense that artificiality is embedded within human language is also true. Our written language is made up of words that symbolize things, but those words do not accurately describe my particular experience in my favorite city.
Storytellers reveal our history and experience, not a written account of an isolated event. In Black Rainbows the same holds true, one’s personal history is not simply a written account using inadequate language, but a story told to one’s self built upon other stories. In this way, travel through the mind becomes a means of accessing one’s past. In order to access one’s past; one must travel back through the stories they’ve told that add up to one personal history as a whole.