Novel as Prism

Does the novel, even the post modern novel, even novels as objects like novel roman, new novel, or other movements like existentialism, beat, etc, and genres, and plots, and chapters and characters, and no chapters and no characters, even hyperlinked novels, mosiac novels, novels constructed of flash vignettes….does any of this represent the fractured nature of our current experience?

Some thoughts (oh noes I’m making lists again!  But it’s such an easy way to make content without even TRYING)-

  • Novels, as a whole are linear progressive behemoths with straight forward casts. Even when they don’t have plot, or are mosiac, they are more about direct patterns and less about the fracturing of our current mental narrative
  • In other words: there hasn’t been a movement that spoke for a generation in a long, long, long damned time. The closest we get is Post Modern, but that’s how old? Yes, it was taken up by Generation X, but Generation X is in their 40’s now. Their careers took off for the most part in a pre-internet saturation environment. Do they have the right tools to talk to our current mental landscapes?
  • I’m not talking about hyper-linked novels or internet novels here. Those feel so gimicky. And? There is a difference between experience and narrative. Narrative is an artificial replication of experience, but can’t be experience itself. It can talk about it being an artificial replica (narrative that is) but it can never truly breach that wall and move beyond replica to experience.
  • The internet, and hyperlinks, and netflix, and ads, and Hulu, and forums, and social networks, and twitter and blogs- these are all an experience, not a narrative. You are seeing this first hand, doing it first hand, talking first hand, etc.
  • Narratives (which can exist on this landscape, can be a part of this experience, but is not the experience itself) are separate- are more like memories or dreams. Ways of talking about experiences, ways of faking, storing, retrieving these experiences.
  • The current modes of narrative are for a time when our world was linear, and our mental narratives were linear. Our experience was linear, singular, nested in our environment, expanded with some external narratives (television/movies/books) that were also linear.
  • Even post modern and the mosaic novel, etc etc: they are usually focused, usually containing certain reoccurances, travel still across linear pathways. Certainly, there are experiments to break out of this mode (books as dictionaries telling stories, like the Dictionary of Love, or the Hopscotch‘s attempt at creating multi-linear narratives you can jump between), but most of these are pointing towards something new, they haven’t breached that wall yet. They haven’t broken through, they are stand alone experiments.
  • But these do build a groundwork, towards something else. Towards a way of creating narrative that expresses the fractured multifaceted experience of our reality. We are conversing, discussing, replicating, imbibing all these other thoughts, all these bits of mental detritus clinging to our minds.
  • Again, I’m not talking about things like hyperlinked novels, these are the experience in itself, not replication of symbolic mental architecture
  • This *something new* will need to be a prism of experiences, collected in themes, without linear progression, but progression through narrative links. Characters as hyperlinks, symbols as hyperlinks, narrative voice as anchor. Different voices, fractures, but all connected through these links through a text
  • But not like a choose your own adventure. The links are threads, not jumping points. These are not linear progressions, but rather scattered interfaces.
  • Consider this: a bunch of scenes, floating in amber. With connections scattered between them, repetitions. There maybe progression, but it’s outside of the actual being itself, the progression is in the background, is happening elsewhere. Outside of the scenes themselves. Characters are objects, frozen in the amber.
  • They are beings in stasis, and exist as much as avatars on our screen exist, as facebook profiles and twitter streams exist: that there might be someone behind it all. But who is it? Can we cobble together a suggestion of a personality through random 140 character messages? These people are all fictional. Our world has become fictional. Yet our fictional world hasn’t caught up with it yet.
  • Our experience of the world has become a prism. Narrative needs to reflect that.

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