Thursday, December 14, 2006

Narrative Fiction or Narrative Fact?

I've been thinking about narrative recently, what it is and how it differs from reality. So, what is narrative?
  • A single strand extracted from the infinite tangle of reality
  • A language for the description of time
  • A tool to show that reality has a direction
  • A tool to show that reality doesn't have a direction
  • An argument to be pitched against other narratives

And many other things besides. Please feel free to add your suggestions for what it is. I'd love to read them.

It seems that using narrative is one of the things that characterises human beings. But, paradoxically, to be a prisoner of narrative risks us behaving in the most inhuman way.


aiden choles said...

I resonate with narrative being characteristic of our being. I think it goes deeper than that though. Narrative is the way in which we make sense of our experiences, relationships, realties and world.It is the process we use to sense the world ... as we integrate our experiences with sequenced, structured imagery of what has happened.

Fictional narrative does this as well, but in a removed sense that allows us to identify with or distance ourselves from a certain narrative.

Rod Duncan said...

I had an e-mail from Shani at Frontline Books, who wanted to make the following comment on this topic:

"I don't really distinguish between narrative fact and narrative fiction, in the sense of which is more true?

Reading some of the books in our Radical Fiction Reading Group list provides more truth than factual or journalistic narrative.

But I'm intrigued by what you see as the danger of "being trapped in narrative"."

Rod Duncan said...

And... in answer to that question, Shani, I would say that people sometimes have radically different narratives about history, land, destiny etc. Where those narratives are at odds there is often conflict. If we believe our own narratives to be reality and not an interpretation of reality, we are in danger of locking ourselves into conflict. That was my thought, anyway.