This is going with the post I put up yesterday- with DeLillo talking about how all plots (narrative, etc) end in death and make conspirators of the readers. It’s an interesting idea, and I think it’s a very Western idea, steeped in our culture that has reduced all stories to variations of Freytag’s Pyramid, the Monomyth (thank you George Lucas for ruining mythology) and Aristotle’s Poetics. It’s interesting when you add these up, add in that thought (of plot=death) and see exactly how we view fiction.
Poetics and tragedy has death in right there, so it all can become literal. Death as ending, death of characters, characters as wooden variations of themselves as they walk around tidying up the story, firing off every gun that was placed on every mantle. Then you have that infamous pyramid, whose basic structure is sex. Exposition (foreplay), Rising Action (intercourse), Climax (dur), Falling Action (falling on each other all sweaty and out of breath) and Denouement(post-coital bliss). If you see each act of sex as a reach towards a little death (la petite-mort), then this makes even more sense- plot really is heading towards death, towards orgasm, etc, etc.
And of course, Barthes even flat out said the point of great literature is to give each person a la petite mort right afterwards, give them a little death. That bit of melancholy and expenditure is the purpose of literature. All plot towards death, great literature as a little murder of the soul, an equivalent of a literary orgasm.
But why? Why has this become the de-facto standard of the Western Tradition in our fiction (and some non-fiction who wishes they were novels)? Has the rise of the blockbuster cut off every single other way of experiencing a narrative? Has our need for quick and dirty bang-bang-bang go right towards the smexysmexsmex that important? What about stories that wander, that dance, that have none of these Freytaggian Poetical Pyramid clutch up and get it on structures?