So for example, When Ulysses and his men flee from Polyphemus the Cyclops (a one eyed giant) who flings rocks after them, the fact that the story refers to a volcanic eruption is never explicitly mentioned in the story, as it is assumed that everyone listening to this story will know what is meant by the terms.
Well, we are planning a trip to the Shirataki village in Hokkaido, where Morihei Ueshiba first met Sokaku Takeda. We will pass through Sapporo on the way ...
Presumably, the memorization is for the sake of the kataribe
telling the stories and not for those hearing them. For the details of the stories will change according to the nature of the audience.
The major problem with Barber's book is that the authors are writing from a privileged position. Those who do not know the 'longhand' will not be in a position to check how the shorthand developed and so will not be in a position to interpret the shorthand. So I am less certain than you that everyone listening will know the 'cultural substructure' of the story. They will probably know it as a myth.
For example, you might argue from the Noah myths in the Bible that the story is a shorthand form of a real flood and that those who heard the stories of the ark will remember the stories about the flood. There is archeological evidence that there was actually a real flood, but the actual connection with this flood and the Noah myths in the Bible is much harder to define.
Similarly with the Tower of Babel myth. Babel is plausibly based on Babylon and the Tower on the ziggurats built there. But the story recounted in Genesis
is less easily assimilated to a real story, with which everyone would be familiar. In the case of the Babel myth, there is no guidance forthcoming from the contemporary myths from other cultures. The Babel story seems exclusive to the Bible and the unhappy relations between Babylon and those for whom the story was recounted.
The Amaterasu / Susano-o myths in the Kojiki
/ Nihon Shoki
are another illustration. The Susano-o myths are thought to come from Izumo, but they have been fused together by the writer of the Kojiki
into one smooth narrative, according to which Susano-o is 'redeemed' by slaying the 8-tailed dragon and presenting the kusanagi
sword to Amaterasu. If this myth is a 'shorthand' story of something that would have been known to the pre-literate hearers, it is not clear what this would be and this calls into question the utility of the SP device--as an explanatory device.