Mark Rust gave an insightful presentation exhibiting the benefits and limitations of deaf storytelling. Whereas literature is obviously written and is thus “composed for the eyes,” poetry and prose translate into ASL through kinetic shapes and movement. The deaf culture relies heavily on emotive performances to stress the impact of their signing, and signers rarely adhere to spelling out all their words. Rather, they interpret what they want to say through their movements and facial expressions and essentially fabricate their own signs based on how they convey meaning at that point in time in which they are expressed.
By individualizing their own symbols and images, signers mirror the passage of fairy and folk tales through generations because each narrative, story, cinematographic story is simply an individual’s interpretation of the message being conveyed. Thus, the deaf culture stresses individualism in defining what symbols/images/movements mean, as folk and fairy tales stress that each culture redefines and edits stories to better align with their morals and ideals. In a way, the deaf culture is its own myopic representation of folklore because each individual has his or her own code in which they communicate and tell stories, but almost anyone can decipher what they are saying by what Jung may call the “collective unconscious:” a canon of associations by which all people associate certain symbols and movements with meaning. Deaf culture is our current society’s folklore!