NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Friday, February 27, 2009

Class Notes: Introduction To Narrative

It looks like people want to read the composition assignments when I get to them, so post them I will! I'm excited people are interested, but it also makes me nervous. What if you hate them? It will be good to conquer that fear, right? Thanks in advance for helping. :-) I don't know when I will get to the first one, but when I do I will name the posts in a manner that readers will be able to tell what it is. Most likely something clever like "Composition". (I crack me up!)

This, however, is the first "Class Notes" post in which I will share all the fun things I learn while I read my textbooks. I've only taken two college literature classes in my life and those were many years ago. Much of what I'm reading in these texts are things I either never knew or never really thought about. I'm surprised I'm not keeping people awake with all the light bulbs going off over my head!

The chapter I read last night was "Narrative and Life" from The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. In the book, "Narrative" is defined as "the principal way in which our species organizes its understanding of time." (p. 3) "Narrative time" differs from "clock time" in that clock time relates only to itself and is marked off in regular intervals, be it seconds, hours, days, moons or seasons, etc. Narrative time relates to events or incidents and is not necessarily any time at all.

Those definitions got me thinking about Anne Rice. I get lost in her writing sometimes because she'll spend five pages during which time someone will have walked a city block, then two sentences later a year has passed. That's not a complaint about Anne Rice. It's just an example of the fluidity of narrative time in the hands of an author and the power to mold time to his or her desires. Very cool!

The other interesting bit I had never considered before was how we tend to look for narrative in nearly everything in our lives, consciously or unconsciously. We see a sneaker laying in the middle of the road and wonder how it got there. We look at a painting or a photograph and we create narratives to explain what we're looking at. The more difficult it is for our minds to explain, the more impact the image tends to have. I especially liked one of the examples he used. This is "Dr. Syn" by Andrew Wyeth:

I'll bet some interesting narratives popped into your head to explain that one! What are some of the things you see that you find yourself creating stories around?

While you consider that, I'm going back to my texts to find more light bulb moments. See you tomorrow for more Class Notes!


Anonymous said...

Awww, Andrew Wyeth! I'm so sad he's gone.

Time is relative, don't you think? Even real time is only real if you make it so. When I'm late to work (which is often), I tell myself this. I don't have to tell anyone else my time theories because I'm the boss!

I create stories around almost everything, including other bloggers. I have imagined complete back stories about other bloggers lives. Strange, huh?

bermudaonion said...

I love these posts and your excitement of learning.

zetor said...

My imagination shows me a sinking ship, the crew have abandoned ship and as in all good movies the captain remained with his ship and this determined his fate. Interesting post Lezlie.

Ana S. said...

"The other interesting bit I had never considered before was how we tend to look for narrative in nearly everything in our lives, consciously or unconsciously."

This is actually something I've every interested in. Stories! Stories everywhere!

Very nice post, Lezlie :)

Lezlie said...

Chartroose ~ If it weren't for work, I'm not sure "time" would matter to me all that much. It's that big chunk of hours spent doing something that doesn't matter much to me beyond a paycheck that keeps me feeling like there are not enough hours in the day or the weekends aren't long enough.

I would love to hear your blogger stories. I bet they're great! :-)

Bermudaonion ~ Thanks! I'm glad you like them! They'll probably make up a large portion of my posts this year. Learning is my passion. That is what really drives my love of books rather than the entertainment factor. I think that's why I tend to stick with a book even if I don't like it. Figuring out why I don't like it is a different kind of learning experience.

Zetor ~ Very romantic! I like it! Now we just have to figure out why he isn't wearing any pants. . . :-)

Nymeth ~ Thank you! I think writers are much more in tune with their inner narrator. I'm a reader more than a writer, so a lot of it for me is very subconscious. I love hearing the little stories that go through people's heads at the slightest provocation. I wish I had the ability to capture those moments like they do!


joanna said...

I create stories all the time, about everything and everyone. I have to remind myself that most of the stuff that's in my head isn't actually true so I shouldn't give people grief about what I made up about them. ;-)
When you mentioned Anne Rice I remembered that we talked about time and narrative etc is high school and in relation to Wuthering Heights, since the narrative was all over the place there. Might be an interesting one to re-read with your lightbulbs in mind.

Lezlie said...

Joanna ~ I'll be starting Wuthering Heights next week, so I'll have to remember that while I'm listening. Thanks for the tip! :-)