Dissimulations

Footnotes

[1] Roland Barthes, 'The Structural Analysis of Narrative' in Image, Music, Text

[2] Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones

[3] Annette Kuhn in The Cinema Book, British Film Institute 1987, gives this account of the formal attributes of classic cinematic narrative:

* Linearity of cause and effect within an overall trajectory of enigma-resolution;
* A high degree of narrative closure;
* A fictional world governed by spatial and temporal verisimilitude;
* Centrality of the narrative agency of psychologically-rounded characters.

[4] In S/Z, Blackwell 1990, Barthes outlines 5 codes of narrative. These are used to submit a short story by Balzac - Sarrasine - to an extremely close textual analysis. Briefly the 5 codes are:

* The code of Semes - broad connotations within the text - femininity, age, etc...;
* The Symbolic code - the code which structures the text in figurative patterns - antithesis, graduation, repetition etc. It is difficult to imagine this code within a non-linear, interactive structure - the pattern imposed by the author would be lost in the meanderings of the reader;
* The Cultural code - shared knowledge, common sense. See note on Hellcats above;
* Hermeneutic code - ‘the various (formal) terms by which an enigma can be distinguished, suggested, formulated, held in suspense and finally disclosed.’ An interactive story might be organised principally in terms of the hermeneutic code, a cluster of clues surrounding a mystery could be organised logically yet non-sequentially. The hermeneutic code is goal-oriented, as are most games;
* Proairetic code - the code of the actions, the code of the sequence. This code presents particular problems for non-linear interactive structures. A change in one part of the sequence will have the potential to change every subsequent action. The proairetic code embodies a relentless logic - if X is killed in scene 4 then X cannot be alive in scene 5. To an extent then, the proairetic code embodies something of the Cultural codes, the code of knowledge. The proairetic code is the code of knowledge about time, and it is the certainties of this knowledge which interactivity appears to throw into question. There is a parallel between the interactive narrative and the electronic spreadsheet. The linear narrative is to the interactive narrative what the ledger is to the spreadsheet. Both interactive narrative and spreadsheet are ‘what if?’ engines. Both create the space for multiple parallel time. The best illustration of the problem of the proairetic code in interactive narrative is given by changing one of the numbers in a spreadsheet, doing a recalculate, and watching the changes multiply and ripple across the whole sheet.

[5] Woman outside the cinema in The Purple Rose of Cairo directed by Woody Allen.

[6] 'The Value of Narrativity' in The Representation of Reality: On Narrative, Chicago, 1981.

[7] See Peter Wollen’s discussion of the linguistic category of aspect and its effect on spectatorship in ‘Fire and Ice’ in Richon & Berger (eds.) Other Than Itself, Cornerhouse Publications 1990 and the categories of perfective and imperfective in Bernard Comrie’s standard work Aspect, CUP 1976.

[8] Bernard Comrie,Aspect, CUP 1976

[9] 'Herbert Quain' in Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones.

[10] Max Whitby heads the Multimedia Corporation, an offshoot of the BBC which produces interactive titles in London.

[11] Roland Barthes, S/Z, Blackwell, 1990.

[12] ‘contemporary theory proposes and hypertext disposes; or, to be less theologically aphoristic, hypertext embodies many of the ideas and attitudes proposed by Barthes, Derrida and Foucault.’ Landow, Hypertext, Johns Hopkins University Press 1992, page 73.

[13] Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, Manchester University Press 1986.

[14] For example, my 5 year old child enjoys crashing the aeroplane when he flies the simulator - it doesn’t hurt him to crash the plane. However when watching a television documentary about early USAF jet planes which showed a plane cartwheeling and exploding in a fireball he was upset because he felt he had seen someone die. The simulated crash and the account of a crash had for him a very different status.

[15] See Brenda Laurel, Computers as Theatre.

[16] Linguistic category distinct from tense. See footnote referring to Comrie, Aspect, CUP 1976.

[17] ‘Another way of explaining the difference between perfective and imperfective meaning is to say that the perfective looks at the situation from the outside, without necesarily distinguishing any of the internal structure of the situation, whereas the imperfective looks at the situation from the inside, and as such is crucially concerned with the internal structure of the situation, since it can both look backwards towards the start of the situation, and look forwards to the end of the situation, and indeed is equally appropriate if the situation is one that lasts through all time, without any beginning and without any end.’ Bernard Comrie, Aspect, CUP 1976.

[18] 'Herbert Quain' in Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones.

[19] Holt's defintition of aspect, quoted in Comrie, Aspect, CUP 1976./note

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