Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson

Subject: Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson
From: Richard Wentk (
Date: Tue Oct 04 2005 - 13:42:20 EDT

At 20:44 04/10/2005, you wrote:

>But "narrative" doesn't necessarily mean that we can put it into words.

Actually in the original sense it mostly does, as I'll explain below. But
even if you're right I still think we're talking about a collection of
discrete perceptual processes which may or may not be related, and not a
single one.

Do narratives that are put into words have different qualities, properties
and elements than those that don't? I think they do.

>Once again, back to the bergson example. You play a stacc. note (say, c5),
>wait 5 seconds, and then play d5.
>the hypothesis here is that you hear the d5 as the c5 "having gone up."
>That's a narratization.

Or is it just a metaphorical attempt to relate one kind of experience to a
different one? Would a volume change be just as much of a narratization? If
not, why not?

I think you'll find that even though the PM types stole the idea of
narrative - or rather meta-narrative - from linguistics, and from there it
drifted into academic analysis as a sort-of-useful word for certain kinds
of criticism, the original meaning includes elements that are missing from
your example.

Most verbal narratives, in the sense of novels, dramas, films, mythologies,
and so on, aren't just stories with characters and some kind of a plot. The
defining element is that they're really *fables* with a definite moral

The narrative exists to communicate and illustrate this premise, and not as
a structural entity for its own sake. (If you study fiction writing this
one of the first things you learn.)

A surprising amount of writing, from journalism to novel writing to
literary criticism, has this idea as a basis. It's not just about creating
structure and dynamics for the sake of it, but about suggesting that the
world is a certain way and that there's a right and useful way in which to
relate to it.

Now, the author may be dead [tm], and this doesn't mean that verbal
narratives are accurate or reliable or can't be questioned. That's a
different topic.

But it does mean the foundation of verbal narrative and musical narrative
can't be so very closely related. Because creating a fable to communicate a
premise in this way through sound alone (never mind song, which is a hybrid
form) is something that doesn't seem quite so fundamental in composition as
it does in story telling. And it's certainly not the same as creating
perceptual tension in the abstract and suggesting possible resolutions to it.


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