The truth of the story

The truth of the story

Basically most stories told are one agent (the storyteller) acting against a “truth” of the told action (story), in order to tell her own “truth” (narrative). The author always lies in stories, because if there ever was a truth to begin with, it has to be manipulated for it to be a story, even when the intention is to come closer to the truth. In fact in order to come closer to the truth, the storyteller might need to disregard what’s true, since they cloud the truth that the reader is able to perceive. And more interesting, this truth-hybrid is then interpreted to become the readers perception of the basic truth, something that can be something quite different from any truth that existed before it. Fiction has the sympathetic quality of being a lie that both the sender and receiver agree upon, and in so, isn’t a lie at all. If I would say: “In 2009 I was abducted by an alien spieces entirely made out of cheese” it would be a lie, but if instead I said: “Once upon a time I was abducted by an alien spieces entirely made out of cheese” you would most likely perceive it as a lousy joke (or something). It’s still not true, but it isn’t a lie either, it’s fiction. By clearly stating “This isn’t true, it’s fiction,” we actually open up for the possibility of telling the truth, without having to lie about the details. It is also appearant that the truth best told through fiction isn’t the obvious kind, not the truths that can be grasped, or explained in...
There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end

There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end

…truth can be found in sugar coated love songs no doubt. Where does the story of Mortimer och Randolph Duke in Coming to America begin? The spectator needs to know the characters from Trading Places to appreciate the scene, or at least understand the dialog of the two homeless gentlemen when they receive the money from prince Akeem. And where does the story end? “We’re back!” indicates the beginning of something. And where did the story of the Dukes in Trading Places end? Surely not in Trading Places since they’re back in Coming to America. Where does the story end in Eastern Promises and does it really happen on screen? Where does the story in i Sofokles tragedy Oedipus the King begin and end? What if George Lucas had never made Episode I-III? When Aristotle wrote: “A beginning is that which does not itself follow anything by causal necessity, but after which something naturally is or comes to be. An end, on the contrary, is that which itself naturally follows some other thing, either by necessity, or as a rule, but has nothing following it. A middle is that which follows something as some other thing follows it. A well constructed plot, therefore, must neither begin nor end at haphazard, but conform to these principles.” …he surely couldn’t have meant that literally, right? Maybe he really meant: “A beginning is where the writer chooses to begin, because if she begins earlier that which comes after will make less sense. An end, on the contrary, is where the writer chooses to end, because if she continue the thing in the...
Storyness part 1: Stories are actions being told

Storyness part 1: Stories are actions being told

Quick preface: This is my shot at describing what I believe storyness is in media design. Since this blog deals to a great extent with story, it feels kind of reasonable for me to take a stab at the subject and be as specific as I can muster, dealing specifically with the concept of storyness, that is the notion of story in media. So what is story? Over at Anecdote Shawn Callahan lists the following features to look for in order to spot a story: Time marker Place marker Characters Events Time and place marker puts the things told in a time and place. For instance “In 1991…” “On our way to the client…” These are often present, but not obligatory (according to Callahan). Characters can be people or people-like, while this is a somewhat weak definition, it is better defined later in Callahans text as someone/something that “take action”. Action without character is event, but story without character is… something else. In other words, it’s not only events that are essential, but actions. And actions always happen in time and space. Stories are actions… In order to understand the essential core of story we need to understand action. The phenomenon of “action” has been dealt with in excess, not least in the fields of philosophy and psychology. …throwing a ball is an instance of action; it involves an intention, a goal, and a bodily movement guided by the agent. On the other hand, catching a cold is not considered an action because it is something which happens to a person, not something done by one. (Wikipedia: Action Theory)...
The new exposition

The new exposition

Recently William Gibson has made some sound comments about the state of exposition in novels. The core of it is simply that with the world wide web always at hand you don’t really have to explain all that much, everything is within reach through services like Google. Now this goes for novels, but it’s applicable on other media as well. Any print media to day is off course effected, but when they go digital the power or the open footnote, that is the web, will be even more prominent. Click on the word to get to the authors preferred explanation (traditional footnote), go to wikipedia (outsourced footnote) or search for it on your own (footwhat?). You can also easily search a book for any occurrence of a particular word or phrase. In some cases, and this is evolving, you can make notes in a text and share it with others, contributing to the clarity and interpretation of a corpus. On the web you can illustrate a sequence in a book by filming it, you can discuss it with other readers and your conversation can be searchable by yet more readers. For some this new way of reading isn’t an appealing progress at all, but the tools are available, and will just get better. Where all this might be true for traditional print media, cinema goers on the other hand are not really encouraged to sit with their noses in their Smart Phones or lap tops yet, quite the opposite. “Remember to turn off your mobile phone!” But for how long is this going to be true? New libraries try...
Dual split screen and other women

Dual split screen and other women

I enjoyed Conversations with other women the other night. Some viewers seem to like the split screen, and others apparently think it gets in the way of the story or are to gimmicky. Personally I liked it, primarily for one reason: I’m fed up with watching what the director wants me to watch. I’m a lot more interested in reaction than performance for instance. That is, if someone is making a speech, the camera is usually on him/her. Problem is, I’ve seen this numerous of times. Even in reality I often watch that person more of politeness than personal interest. What I want to do is watch other peoples reactions. In an ordinary movie I rarely get this. With the split screen approach this could be done without making a point of it. At times I agree the split screen wasn’t necessary in Conversation with other women, but by keeping it throughout, moments where it was adding something didn’t feel forced. The director argued the use of split-screen made the viewer more of a part in the “editing”, since they could shift focus. Considering what’s happening with story telling media today this actually seems like more of a small step in that direction rather than a revolutionary new way, and most of the time I did try to follow both of the perspectives, since I felt I would otherwise miss out on the vision. I’m convinced that further down the road this idea will reach it’s full potential though, and we wouldn’t get anywhere if it weren’t for small steps. Just to clarify, so you won’t think I despise...