Friday, December 4, 2009


Narrative theory is infinite. It is infinite in terms of texts written in and around it, in terms of people who every day write it and about it, in terms of narratives that it attempts to describe. And even if it might still be finite today, it is certainly infinite in terms of all the stuff that will be based on it in the future. However, since in its origins narrative theory is very closely tied to formalist and structuralist theories, it reveals itself in a series of well-ordered manuals, each of which attempts a certain degree of comprehension. It feigns a sense of order, a sense that it (as well as the narratives that it describes) has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This order is a total illusion, perpetuated by the fact that, when done in a book form, narrative theory must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not so in a blog. The way to handle something infinite in a blog is to break it into tiny, minuscule fragments that will take me no more than 20 minutes to write and will relate to other kinds of writing I'm doing that day.

Having said the above, I now have only 5 minutes to proceed. Here's another problem with Narrative theory: it's a catch-all. It's a kind of a theory that exists within a much larger theoretical and philosophical framework, and is usually used within these frameworks to make a point that has very little to do with narrative theory itself. Narrative theory is a tool. It's important because it's useful. Narrative theory itself might just be a sort of giant dusty volume of obscure terms. (This is not true.) I'm only complaining about this because I don't really know how to even approach transcribing my notes. Each term I use sets of the need to explain a bunch of related (syntagmatically and paradigmatically) terms. Do I enter it from placing it in the context of formalism, structuralism (I sort of already did), New Critics, post-structuralism, deconstruction, feminist theory, reader-response criticism, post-colonialism, etc? Do I enter it with trying to define crucial terms (the way I first set out about doing it)? Do I start from posting appealing quotes by different theorists and then providing some sort of a discussion about it?

The answers must wait for another day.

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