Worlds and Time

In the “Emmulations” chapter of Sense I ended up tracing how narrataivity depends upon sequence and thus operates across sensory modalities. I was quite pleased to later discover that Marie-Laure Ryan in “Transmedial Narratology and Concepts of Narrative” arrives at a similar conclusion.

Though narrative as artifact requires both signifier and signified, i.e. both discourse and story, narrative as mental image can be formed in response to stimuli which are not material representations produced by humans. We may for instance form stories in our mind in response to life itself. While life is not a narrative, its ability to inspire the cognitive construct defined above – let me call it narrative script – means that it occasionally possesses a quality that we may call “narrativity.” The property of “being” a narrative can be predicated of any semiotic object produced with the intent to evoke a narrative script in the mind of the receiver. “Having narrativity,” on the other hand, means being able to evoke such a script. In addition to life itself, pictures, music or dance can have narrativity without being narratives in a literal sense. Both types of phenomena fall within the concerns of transmedial narratology.

In marking this passage, I am reminded of William S. Burroughs The Ticket That Exploded

The operation of retreat on this level involves shifting three-dimensional coordinate points that is time travel on association lines.

because Ryan like Burroughs has truck with mental constructs. A narrative as a type of mental construct works along association lines. Or so this is a way of translating the definition provided by Ryan:

This means that narrative is a certain type of mental image, or cognitive construct which can be isolated from the stimuli that trigger its construction. This mental image will be defined through the following features:

1. Narrative must evoke a world populated with individuated agents (characters) and objects. (Spatial extension.)

2. This world must undergo changes of state that are caused by physical events: either accidents (“happenings”) or deliberate human actions.(Temporal extension.)

3. The physical events must be connected by a network of goals, plans, causal relations, and psychological motivations which gives them coherence and intelligibility and turns them into a plot. (Mental extension)

A world, changes of state to that world. A red cube, a blue cube and a green sphere. The blue cube changes into a green cube.

A minimal narrative must have a collection of objects and changes to the objects or changes to the collection of objects (addition or subtraction of objects). A cause becomes an object in the set of objects that make up a world. Motivations are objects. It is not clear that a minimal narrative must have relations of connection such as causes or motivations.

In our example of the coloured cubes, a blue cube is removed from the set of objects and a green cube is added. And because of their positions in relation to the other set elements, the switch is perceived as a change, or so it is stated (as X changing into Y) rather than the more verbose that “Y now occupies that place that was occupied by X”).

Habits of narration can influence modes of world construction.

And so for day 515

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.