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)...
Computer games aren’t games 2/2

Computer games aren’t games 2/2

Not only could you use Tetris as part of a Transmedia story, but you could take any session of Tetris being played and find a narrative structure. It doesn’t make Tetris a story, but Tetris actually have some small amount of story-like behavior, for exampel: From level to level, the environment changes, giving impression of progress, or a journey; In each game session the progression is more or less identical going from calm beginning, through struggle, often with a reversal for good, and then an inevitable demise. So, is the game of Tetris a story? No, but neither is the novel of Moby Dick according to me. Does Tetris contain story stimuli? Absolutely!   Just as it’s the actual use of Tetris that makes it a story, it is also the use of Tetris as a game that actually makes it a game. The medium (the computer game) is not the game. The physical artifact only consists of game stimuli. Granted a fairly convincing set of stimuli, but still, the game is only a game when it is being played. With that in mind it is still obvious to most people that Tetris as a medium consists of a lot greater deal of game stimuli than story stimuli. Most people, I reckon, would have a hard time seeing the same story in Tetris, but no problem seeing the same game. Which leads this little rant to games like those in the Final Fantasy series and GTA. There is no question that they have strong game stimuli. We collect points, try to out-do ourselves and others, etc. But they also...
Computer games aren’t games 1/2

Computer games aren’t games 1/2

There are no such thing as mediabound stories. Moby Dick is a novel, and it contains a story, but only if we read it that way. The novel itself is no story. Just as a chessboard and chess pieces isn’t the game of chess. In fact Moby Dick is just as much of a game as the chess pieces are. If two people are told to read the first 200 pages of Moby Dick as fast as they can and that the reader who reads the fastest, and have the most correct answers on a Quizz afterwords gets a 100 dollars, they aren’t only reading a story they are also playing a game (from now on called a Mobydash). In fact, chances are they are game players to a larger extent than they are story readers, since they have to adjust their reading in order to win. If the rules applied to the reading are rules of a game, the reading becomes a game, but it doesn’t end being a story. Chances are we read it both ways simultaneously, only with porer quality than if we hade just sticked to either game or story. In fact we absolutely have the possibility to do both at the same time, even though one of the process might be dominant. So the book is only a book and whether it is a story, game or play is all about how we use it. This principle is in very much applicable on computer games, but more on that later. Today I want to finnish off with cards. There are several activities that turn...

Story is movement

I’m reading through a pile of books (both in paper and on the web – thanks ebrary) on aspects of narrative, and stumbled upon a passage in the book From text to hypertext claiming that “painting can of course, only suggest narrativity” which got me thinking about the choice of the reader. Like choosing to watch certain aspects of the painting in a certain order, och flip from one page to the next in a book. In the latter the convention is stronger, but it is still a choice. Movies are the same thing, though admittedly harder in a cinema. So… without going more in to detail at this point, I think I’ll write something about these moments in a story. The moment of choice. I’ll read some more and come back to you (perhaps with a totally different take on the...