Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Sate a Narky, You Topiary

Was doing some programming when my regular "watchdog" thread woke up, and I felt suddenly absurd, digging through code while listening to Alan Jackson's "Pickup Man" on my NexusOne, with "The Affluent Worker in the Class Structure" sitting next to me and some books on feminist theory behind me. Had a feeling that were I to be conceived by an author, anyone giving them advice would say they're packing too many ideas into one character. But then, that's true of a lot of people. If "complexity" is the most important lesson of the era, it's just as important with human nature. Old question - should stories have people crafted to fit the narrative with just enough complexity not to appear wooden, should woodenness be accepted in order to turn them into chess pieces in order to totemise (platonise?) the story, or should we desire characters that are deeply real and possibly sacrifice some clarity of narrative?

It's complicated in that IRL we're creatures that all construct their own narratives for reality based around themselves, probably totemising most people around us in order to really make those narratives work (advice against demonisation: goes against fundamental drives of human meaning, hence difficulty). We can direct our gaze and ignore the small stuff, because we're significantly the author of that narrative and nobody else easily can step into our head and insert a conflicting narrative (blogs do weird things to our quest for meaning). In books and television, our gaze is directed - we still *can* insert our own meaning into these works, but then we're effectively forking that work (based on justifiability in terms of presented content). Most people lack the will (or have notions of respect or ownership of works that block them from the exercise) to do this. In theory, reality TV might allow us to direct our gaze in our own way (although all those attempts must still be mediated by coordination) - additionally the genre is mostly rubbish. I suspect the popularity has some strength in that there's a disconnect between constructed personalities in actual stories and the slightly less constructed people in the "real life no plot" idea that theoretically defines the genre.

I wonder if the style of narrative we would build for ourselves is much shaped by storytellers and their modern couterparts.

Maybe my "gospel of complexity" is another on the list of philosophical concepts that, while offering insight into society, reality, and the like, acts to alienate one from society. If people tend to group by how their stories (invisibly) interlock, becoming aware of these mechanisms changes how one would function in that hidden side to association (presuming there's anything to this model to begin with), and it might limit one's ability to enjoy most stories if one has come to expect more depth than the stories have.

I have a feeling that coming to a different understanding on personal narratives would be very helpful in advancing people in society. It's also deeply personal, and may be one of the types of inner repressions (ref Freud C and D) that people could not bear. It's not that we would (or could) give these things up, but we'd need master a doublethink (similar to how we discard free will even as our notions of justice and responsibility are partly based on it) where we have a narrative to stay sane and happy but we actively manipulate it and learn to see through it when needed in order to limit its ill effects.

Strange thought: a society trapped inside delusions we need to stay sane. Amusing to feel a parallel to our forays into space - needing to replicate much of Terra's environment inside our vehicles and suits while our tools and our purpose operate in local reality. Maybe not such a great metaphor.

Apologies for the terrible wordplay in the title.

Tags: philosophy

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