Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Theory of Modes and Modalities

In literary fictions the plot consists of somebody doing something. The somebody, if an individual, is the hero, and the something he does or fails to do is what he can do, or could have done, on the level of the postulates about him by the author and the consequent expectations of the audience. Fictions, therefore, may be classified, not morally, but by the hero’s power of action, which may be greater than ours, less, or roughly the same. (Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, p. 47)

Frye goes on to lay out his classification of five classes — or phases might be a better term: mythic, where the hero is superior in kind to the everyman; romance, where the hero is superior in degree to the everyman and empowered over his environment; high mimetic, where the hero is superior in degree to the everyman but subject to his environment; low mimetic, where the hero is of equal status to the everyman; ironic, where the hero is inferior to the everyman. Essentially, his model offers us five types of hero we could label god, demigod, overman, everyman, nobody. While he relates these phases loosely to particular modes — high mimetic to epic & tragedy, low mimetic to comedy & realism — he spends more time exploring the modes of tragedy or comedy evident in each phase.

Where he maps this to a perceived cycle in Western literature, beginning with Medieval mythic and ending with Modern ironic, it’s an intriguing metanarrative, but I’m more interested in the implications of that phrase, “what he can do, or could have done” — which invites us to apply the notion of alethic modality — and the composite measuring of the protagonist in relation to both society and environment — which invites us to view the hero’s “power of action” in terms of two distinct relationships.

Frye’s god of myth is a protagonist who is an alethic quirk in their own right. (See the "Notes Towards a Theory of Narrative Modality" post for what I mean by "alethic quirk" and suchlike terms.) Whether or not they are subject to their environment is a matter of the worldscape that they inhabit, the alethic quirks that construct it. When Inanna descends into the Kur, she is entering a worldscape beyond her power, constructed from quirks far more powerful than her. And in terms of society, that worldscape may well include an antagonist of equal or higher status — Zeus’s Kronos, Prometheus’s Zeus. The worldscape of myth is one with the value of everyman shifted up to god. So Dumuzi may become a chimera/arcanum as he transforms into a gazelle in his bid to escape the demons pursuing him, but relative to his society and worldscape he is disempowered, a humble shepherd, a boy crying for his mother — a nobody. This potential of the protagonist being a quirk but in relation to other quirks means we might better treat myth as an extra dimension, with each phase having two forms — mythic and non-mythic romantic, mythic and non-mythic high mimetic, and so on.

But Frye’s characterisation of romance invites a similar decomposition:

The hero of romance moves in a world in which the ordinary laws of nature are slightly suspended: prodigies of courage and endurance, unnatural to us, are natural to him, and enchanted weapons, talking animals, terrifying ogres and witches, and talismans of miraculous power violate no rule of probability once the postulates of romance have been established.

What he is talking about here is base-shift dewarping, of course, the dislocation of the narrative to an elsewhere/elsewhen in which such things “could happen”. What’s interesting here though is the characterisation of hero as numen (generating affective warp by doing what “should” be done) and the characterisation of their worldscape in terms of alethic quirks. The demigod of romance is empowered over his environment by those arcane, exotic, chimeric objects and animal helpers. The alethic quirks are predominantly on the hero’s side. Ultimately, in the form of Fate and the divine, the romantic worldscape itself may be fundamentally on the protagonist’s side. But the presence of “ogres and witches” in such a worldscape points to a complement: what if those alethic quirks are predominantly set against the protagonist? This is, in effect, the worldscape offered by gothic/horror, where ultimately, in the form of Fate and the diabolic, the worldscape itself may be fundamentally set against the protagonist. Between these two, in fact, is the range of possible tensions that construct the warped worldscape of legend, where some alethic quirks are for the protagonist, others are against the protagonist, but many simply are.

As the antagonist of myth may also be a god, as myth deals with, in effect, a society of gods, so in legend the value of everyman is shifted up to demigod. As the cliché says, it’s all relative. The protagonist of legend can be seen as, relatively speaking, the overman of high mimetic or everyman of low mimetic, while the protagonists of gothic/horror may be seen as, again relatively speaking, everyman of low mimetic or nobody of ironic. So romance also unravels, becomes a flipside of gothic, with legend between them as an ordinal position in the mythic dimension. What we have then is high mimetic, low mimetic and ironic, each of which may take a mythic, legendary or non-mythic form, according to whether the protagonist is an alethic quirk (myth), a human agent in a worldscape of alethic quirks (legend), or a human agent in a worldscape devoid of such exotica and arcana (tale).

Where the worldscape is fundamentally for or against the protagonist, we might well appy Clute’s narrative grammars of Fantasy and Horror with their Thinning and Thickening, understanding these as essentially grammars of romance and gothic. (Where Frye talks of the elegaic mood found in romance, of “associations with the sunset and the fall of the leaf”, of a “diffused, resigned, melancholic sense of the passing of time, of the old order changing and yielding to a new one,” it is hard not to see Clute’s Thinning.) Taking legend as the baseline however points up the absence in the middle-ground, the narrative grammar of legend, characterised by something other than Thinning or Thickening, something better described as Twisting — the grammar that we find where the protagonist must navigate a course of adventure and mystery, not knowing who or what is for him or who or what is against him, often finding that his assumptions were wrong, the apparent friend a traitor, the apparent enemy an ally.

What we have is, in effect, a plane of potential credibility warp which we can picture ourselves standing on. The centre-point is the protagonist as human in a worldscape of alethic quirks. Behind us those quirks multiply to the point where even the protagonist themself is one, the god of myth. Ahead they diminish, dissipate into realism. To the left, the worldscape becomes innately malevolent, permeated by monstra, a gothic mire of Thickening; its aesthetic is grotesque. To the right, it becomes innately benevolent, permeated by numina, a romantic meadow of Thinning; its aesthetic is idyllic. In the centre-point those two aesthetics clash in the legendary maze of Twisting; here the aesthetic is baroque.

This model is not, it should be clear, taxonomic. There are no borders drawn upon that plane: romance and gothic are only nominal labels for extremes; Thickening shades into Twisting shades into Thinning; credibility warp is slowly muted as alethic quirks become more sparse, as legend becomes tale; legend and myth blur where the protagonist’s quirk of a talisman becomes the quirk of a talent, the invulnerability of an Achilles, the strength of a Heracles. The demigod is often part god — half-god in the case of Heracles, two-thirds in the case of Gilgamesh.

Separating out this stratum of credibility warp in which myth and romance are only loosely bounded zones, we’re left with Frye’s modes of high mimetic, low mimetic and ironic, where the hero is defined in social terms as overman, everyman or nobody. What we are dealing with here is equilibrium warp — the weight the protagonist bears in terms of duty (authoritative warp) and the weight they can bring to bear in terms of will (affective warp). The overman’s superior status comes from dealing with more forceful deontic modalities and from responding with more forceful boulomaic modalities. They have the duties of the leader they are, and partly this is because their strength of will has placed them in that position. The everyman is dealing with the duties that any human being might, and doing so with a weaker will. Conflicted, uncertain, they are essentially a protagonist rather than a true hero. Strip them still further and we arrive at the nobody.

The nobody is a more interesting case though, with multiple facets. In the basic form, where low status translates to low duty and low strength-of-will we might see them as the comic scapegoat, the pharmakos, but more dramatic potential seems to be gleaned by subverting this form: the alazon or miles gloriosus pretends to a duty they lack the strength-of-will to enact; the picaro is indifferent to any sense of duty, is strong-willed in terms of desire but generally weak-willed in terms of controlling it; where they find that strength-of-will and set themselves at odds with the deontic imperatives of their worldscape, the picaro may become an out-and-out antihero. In effect, all these rogues and fools are basically antiheroic subversions of the classic combination of the dutiful, resolute champion.

What we begin to see here is not a simple schema of relative social status — overman, everyman or nobody — but rather a set of protagonist types defineable by the interrelations of the deontic modalities that act upon them and the boulomaic modalities they enact. High mimetic is not a phase but a heroic register (and one we might well argue turns romance into epic and horror into tragedy). Low mimetic is likewise a non-heroic register, a register of realism in the representation of an individual’s relationship to society. Ironic is an appropriate name, but this is perhaps best seen not as a register in its own right but as the set of all those antiheroic registers achieved by subverting the champion. If we are thinking of mode as a location in a zone of potentials, credibility warp considered in spatial terms, we need to think of it also as a priming of that location with a complex pattern of equilibrium warp, a register that may have preset configurations but which is ultimately as flexible as society’s capacity to create duty and an individual’s capacity to respond with will.

The result is not a historical schema, a taxonomy of modes as phases, but rather a model of narrative dynamics grounded in the potential variances of credibility and equilibrium warps. While Frye’s grand metanarrative of Western literature cycling through these five phases is appealing, we might ultimately see this more as the involution found in any such dynamic system where writers are reacting to one another or to audience expectations, following fashions or setting them. Two large-scale patterns of drift — away from alethic quirks and towards a non-heroic or anti-heroic register — are discernable as having led to a contemporary literature that maps to Frye’s ironic, but it does not seem difficult to relate these to historical circumstances: with the growth of Rationalism as an ideology we can expect an antipathy to credibility warp and heroic register; the expansion of the known world has made geographic base-shift dewarping less and less effective, the chimerae harder to accept as exotica (which may in no small way explain the shift to temporal base-shift dewarping); the democratisation of literature that began with the printing press and went production-line in the 20th century will logically lead to anti-heroic fictions by, for and about people who view the dutiful, resolute champion with the cynicism of the disenfranchised.

Frye’s metanarrative is a well-made myth, but it’s an orrery built to describe an ecosystem. This is not to rubbish it. The conceptual framework is presented as something far more flexible than a static taxonomy of discrete modes, and Frye makes a point of the transitions and resurgences, the way writers working in one will refer back past the previous mode to the one previous to that. This isn’t just a turning cycle of myth, romance, high mimetic, low mimetic, ironic and so on. But it is a broad structuring of literature that, I think, we can rearticulate in dynamic rather than mechanistic terms.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Emo said...

Hi Hal :)

I liked your update on Frye’s framework very much. I just want to throw in some thoughts sparked by your entry. They are not necessarily a straightforward answer to your thoughts, but an attempt to clarify my understanding of them; I hope you don’t mind.

First, you make a good point when you refine the features of the five phases, but I think that in light of the next three essays in TaoC, Frye maps them out in order of their proximity (historical and conceptual) to the rituals (cyclical in nature) and revelations (prophetic in nature) that in the earliest human societies were meant to reconcile humans with the world outside them (in their minds, at least).

This explains the universal scale of myth, which aims to recreate the cyclical movement of the seasons, of night/day, death/birth, etc. (as evident in most myths in the world and the one you cite, the myth of Innana and Dumuzi). It also explains the, um, transformational nature of the characters in myth, which aims to recreate the nature of dreams (based on random association, analogy and so forth) and to reconcile them to the realities of waking life.

In his essay “The Archetypes of Literature” Frye explains the triumph of the Sun-God, his zenith, as a triumph not only of life and growth, but also of the libido and the dreaming imagination, of the human “heroic self”, as he puts it, whose customary time and place is the night.

6:31 pm  
Anonymous Emo said...

I'm posting my comment in parts, there seems to be a limit in characters :)

The “sympathetic” (whether in a positive or a negative way) and personified nature in romance could be seen as an echo of exactly that attempt to reconcile the human and the non-human. To substantiate that, Frye (as I read him) in his third (I think) essay in TAoC points out that a certain detachment from, simplification and even disregard of social constructs is a distinguishing feature of romance. The further down we go, the more evident is the role of society in “the hero’s” struggle, reaching its culmination in the ironical mode where in its tragical incarnation “the deviant” (the nobody) is deviant only by random chance, and in its comical incarnation (Frye gives detective fiction as an example, if I remember correctly) the premise is flipped and we have the viewpoint of society, “hunting” for the deviant, who remains anonymous until the very end, and then becomes known, but usually not significant.

In that respect, I believe Frye uses “the everyman” as a convenient yardstick and not much more, in order to be clearer to the reader.

Your deconstruction of myth, however, applies well to strange fiction where the mythic and the everyday may literally coexist (which is different from the romantic/high mimetic/low mimetic/ironic modes simply evoking the mythic).

Concerning your addition of the extra dimension I have two observations.

In your example of Dumuzi’s sacrifice (and in which you treat the myth, um, non-mythically, I guess? :)) you describe him as a “nobody”. I think that depending on which version of the myth we look at, he’s better classified either as an “everyman” or as an “overman”. In the version where Innana descends to save him, he is a tragic “everyman” victim by dint of Innana’s affection of him, which was an aspect of pity in Frye’s classification, if memory serves me. His transformation into a vulnerable, mute animal I think supports such an interpretation. In the version where Innana first descends to conquer the Underworld, transforms into a corpse and then is saved with the help of Enki, she picks Dumuzi to descend in her place, because (that, at least, is my own interpretation) she founds him sitting in her former place, i.e. she singles him out because of his position of power, which is the ultimate flow of the tragic hero in high-mimetic tragedy.

6:33 pm  
Anonymous Emo said...

Basically, as far as I understand Frye, being a humble shepherd is not enough to make you an ironic “nobody”. You have to be a humble shepherd, picked at random and tossed around by something beyond your powers – like Mr. K. in The Trial and Job in The Book of Job.

Your extra dimension may be a further elaboration of the “sentimental” kind of literature Frye writes about – since every kind of strange fiction is basically sentimental insofar as it looks back on myth, even if it takes place on a mining platform in outer space.

This one is a question: What exactly do “mythic” and “non-mythic” mean? :)

As far as I understand it, non-mythic means a way of looking at all of the modes, bringing them down on the level immediately below each of them. About mythic I am a little uncertain…


Concerning your comments on the romantic mode:

Are you sure Frye characterizes the hero as necessarily a numen? I mean, I don’t remember if Fryes specifies that the hero of romance is only the protagonist, or maybe he terms “hero” all the characters there, including the antagonist? As for the alethic quirks which are not on the protagonist’s side they form part of the sympathetic nature in romance. It might evoke – scratch that, it might embody both “positive” and “negative” moods. I like how you elaborate on that, though, again it’s relevant to a possible analysis of strange fiction.

And about the quirks that simply are in a work of predominantly romantic kind, they still generate a mood which contributes to the, um, romantic romantic or to the gothic romantic in a story.

I agree about the relativity, and it’s, I think, one of the things strange fiction does, recasting everypeople ironically as protagonist or antagonists, playing with myths and deconstruncting or rearticulating them.

On a sidenote - not very related to the flow of your argument - I am a bit sceptical about notions of protagonicity and antagonicity (I know there aren’t such words, I just like them :)) applied to myth, though, since the antagonists of myth are not necessarily boogeymen that ancient grandmothers used to scare ancient grandchildren, and a the protagonist of the myth of today is often cast as the antagonist of the myth of tomorrow (as evident in the Classical line of succesion Uranus – Cronus – Zeus – Prometheus (who isn’t a successor, of course – at least not in Classical mythology – , but fits the pattern :))

6:33 pm  
Anonymous Emo said...

I like (a lot) the way you establish the spatial pattern and complications that occur by relating the hero to the deontic and bouloumaic modalities of his world, but you might find there is a bit of an overlap with your model and the one that emerges if you take all of Frye’s essays in AtoC together.

I think that what you’re indeed talking in terms of movement, while Frye is talking about ultimate pattern. However intense and upredictable the twisting, when the story ends, we can look at its total pattern.

For example, let’s take the hero of a Gothic or a horror romance story, where the outward reality is bent against him. This story will feature mostly demonic imagery (imagery of Hell and frustration of human desire) – a haunted (no society, or rather a hostile one – ghosts and monsters), full of secrets (untamed environment) castle. If that castle is the world of the story, we could have a number of ultimate outcomes.

The hero, who is human, proves superior to his environment AND his society, which is to say he reveals the castle’s secrets, tames them (getting rid of all the spike pits for example, and turning it into a hotel) and beats the monsters. In the ultimate analysis he turns out to be both superior in degree to his environment and to his society. This is a “romantic comedy” – a hero “integrated” into the castle and in tune with the world at large (ghost in the castle are “turned” into people).

2. The hero proves superior to his environment, but not to his society (he thought he beat them, but the ghosts just keep coming and coming to his pretty hotel and people keep dying). He either leaves the castle, because it’s unfit for him (romantic tragedy, a hero walking away from the world, because the time has come to give it up), strikes up a deal with the ghosts and is happy about it (ironic (or savage) comedy, the exultation of him and the ghosts as innocent, random people spike themselves or are scared to death) or feels anguish about it (he’s a victim of his own weakness having given in to the ghosts, and his inarticulacy, keeping people coming – low mimetic tragedy). Or he goes on to fight them ad infinitum, which is the stance of ironic tragedy, a man trying and failing, or achieving victory at even intervals and then again failing – here we see the glimmerings of mythic tragedy.

3. The hero proves superior to his society, but not to his environment. He either becomes a ruler of a society of ghosts, isolated in his lonely castle, or keeps them trapped/closed in the South wing, which remains haunted. (This is high-mimetic comedy, if a bit strange…) or he demystifies the ghosts and monsters and laughs in their face (this is again ironic comedy, but with a twist – the hero walks away from the society having exposed its hypocrisy). Or he may leave the castle altogether or he’s driven from it after a period of struggle, his weakness being the fact that he owns it at all (the fall of a leader, high mimetic tragedy).

6:34 pm  
Anonymous Emo said...

4. The hero proves inferior to both his society and his environment and gets killed. He turns into a ghost and roams the castle booing all the way and happy to be rid of life (low-mimetic comedy, again a bit strange, but my initial set is a bit strange too…), or being sad and pitiful and tortured about it (low mimetic tragedy again, his weakness being his humanity, which he retains even after becoming a ghost, or ironic tragedy, if the other ghosts still see him as a human and contunue torturing him even if he’s reconciled to the fact that he’s a ghost). He might see that the ghosts are actually something much more than he though they were and becoming one, he has become something more – then this would be a mythic comedy.

More complicated stories would definitely profit from your model (all stories would, I think) and they would definitely be composites of instances of the types I enumerated, but I think that these types, as described by Frye’s model, sum up well the tensions you describe in yours.

P.S. Sorry if all of this sounds overindulgent, it’s basically my thinking out loud, and thanks if you’ve read it all :)

6:34 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

The very concept of "overindulgent" as a criticism is treated with scorn and derision here at the Geek Show, Emo. Lengthy ruminations are more than welcome in response to lengthy ruminations. :D Especially tasty meaty comments.

I'll forestall comment on the cyclical, seasonal aspect to it all, partly because I'm still working my way through the second essay, (since his talk of symbols side-lined me into thoughts on figuration and a potential angle on language that interrogates the notion of signs,) and partly because I'm recognising no small degree of relevance to my own approach in Vellum and Ink, with the four part structure riffing off the seasons and times of day. Man, that third paragraph on the scale of myth, archetypes, dreams and the aim of reconciling them with waking life could have been written about The Book of All Hours specifically.

So, yeah, I'm finding AoC right up my street. To some extent, I suspect my dynamicist stance is maybe a deliberate counterbalance to a natural structuralist tendency. I'm in argument with myself as much as Frye, and Frye seems, I think, to be having the same argument, sort of, just from the other angle.

A few quick off-the-cuff thoughts though:

... a certain detachment from, simplification and even disregard of social constructs is a distinguishing feature of romance. The further down we go, the more evident is the role of society in “the hero’s” struggle...

The "detective" comment is particularly interesting here, because I think there's a *strong* vein of contemporary strange fiction in the "infusion fantasy" mode (see the "Seams" post) where the warping of the worldscape is, like much SF, a metaphoric modeling of society (and (post)modernity), where the worldscape is not sympathetic or antipathetic but... argued and arguable and in argument. In that zone of "legend", the detective is a prime motif (Angel, X Files, Fringe, the Lost Room -- with the latter being a particularly pertinent example.) I think there's a sense in this of hunter and hunted being also hunted and hunter. But I'm jumping the gun here without having read the whole of AoC.

5:06 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Dumuzi? He's an interesting case. Dumuzi's Dream is, as I understand, an add-on to Inanna's Descent, the two sutured together. The two sections each have a distinct feel for me, so I tend to see Dumuzi's story as distinct -- and to weave in what I know of variants where the demons appear to be soldiers and he's running from conscription. This latter may be where the "randomness" comes in for me. Dumuzi as draft-dodger / deserter does have a victim-of-fate air to me. Frye's take on Christ as ironic tragedy bears on this. Dumuzi, by way of Adonis (Adonai?), is part source for the crucifixion's... structure of resonances, it seems to me.

Partly, I read Dumuzi as weaker because the image I get of him is not of Inanna returning to find him set up as a ruler in her place; rather he's lazing about, playing his music (like the Davidic/Virgilian shepherd-boy-musician he is) and generally not fulfilling his responsibility of grief as her consort and thereby inferior (unlike the sons she doesn't sic the demons on). For me, he's fascinating as one of those ironic antiheroes, subverting the champion in his neoteny/effeteness, in his innocence -- everyboy rather than everyman. A creature of idyll and elegy, he's defined by his youth (and loss (like Daphnis)) -- a puer aeternus who can't be a conventional tragic hero in the overman sense because he's not yet reached the age where he *gets* the deontic modalities society would wrap him up in. He's not grieving for Inanna because he doesn't really understand what death is.

To me, Dumuzi seems like a shepherd from Virgil's eclogues who's simply stumbled into Inanna's power-play. If that makes sense.

5:41 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

What exactly do “mythic” and “non-mythic” mean?

I'm really just using these as nominal labels for degrees of saturation or non-saturation with alethic quirks -- "mythic" for the point where the protagonist is themselves arcane/exotic/chimeric, "non-mythic" for the zones where the quirks are dissipated to the point of being subliminal or absent. It's *very* rough. With a bit more thought I might end up moving away from Frye's terminology entirely in my description of that "plane" of credibility warp, modeling the dimensionalities dynamics in terms like Thinning ("right"), Thickening ("left"), saturated ("back") and faded or desaturated or some such ("forward"). And leaving terms like "mythic" to be applied like on an overhead projector, where you might place a map of a road network down over a map of geological features.

6:00 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Are you sure Frye characterizes the hero as necessarily a numen? I mean, I don’t remember if Frye specifies that the hero of romance is only the protagonist, or maybe he terms “hero” all the characters there, including the antagonist?

Well, he uses the term "hero" for all of them really, but nods (if I recall correctly) to the fact that as you lower the register people tend to find the term "hero" less apt; that "protagonist" seems less implicitly... active, dynamic, forceful... *heroic* in its dragon-slaying sense. I prefer "protagonist" for that reason; it's because "hero" has that sense that we talk about the "antihero". It's why I also translate it into god, demigod, overman, everyman and nobody (which is really two separate schema in my model, now I think about it: god, demigod, human; and overman, everyman, nobody. And the latter I rearticulate as hero, non-hero and anti-hero.

To be clear "the characterisation of the hero as numen" I'm referring to is specifically the characterisation of the hero of romance. Frye is certainly not, I'd say, suggesting that all protagonists have positive boulomaic modalities haloing them in coolness. I do think that's implicit in the way he talks about romance though -- e.g. "prodigies of courage and endurance". "Prodigy" is a perfect term, I'd say, for the "human numen" (hmm... try saying that ten times in a row as fast as you can). I think that's *how* you measure the "superiority", in fact.

6:27 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

I am a bit sceptical about notions of protagonicity and antagonicity (I know there aren’t such words, I just like them :)) applied to myth...

I see what you're saying. For me "protagonist" and "antagonist" are very flexible terms, posting simply an agon, a point of view in that agon and a flip-side. But pro- and ant- do have a strong for and against sense that is often highly complex in myth. Prometheus is a case in point. If we treat him as protagonist, Zeus becomes antagonist (much of my point in the latter half of Vellum -- with a specific case made as to who the "successor" is if we run the cycle through). But, yeah, maybe we'd be better talking about agonists.

Actually this might speak to the idea of ironic tending to return to myth. If we take the hero and the non-hero (of romance and high and low mimetic) as numen and non-numen variants of agonists bound by deontic modalities then you're going to see a tendency for them to be working within the dicta (or kicking against them) and thereby falling into pro- or ant- roles. If the antiheroes (of ironic) are marginalised, outcast, rogues and renegades who refuse duty, this puts them into a similar position of disregard to the althetic quirks of myth who are intrinsically "law-breakers". If you see what I'm getting at? Both mythic and ironic would tend to treat social dicta as things that do not apply to them, to assert their role as agonists, independent of the dicta.

6:47 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Anway, I may have more thoughts after I've finished AoC (or along the road). Frye's model and mine certainly don't seem wildly at odds with each other. I think there may be implications in my own notion of dynamics that those authoritative and affective warps "prime" the situation in certain ways that you'd expect the narrative to unfold along exactly the sort of paths you identify. That given the starting points you *are* likely to see certain... paths through the territory. Like in my comments on the Oresteia and The Bacchae on the earlier post, in the idea that the aim is to balance the initial disruptive quirk with some sort of counter-quirk. I can sort of imagine applying that to your castle examples, looking for how those end-points might be described as states of warp that the narrative logically seeks as resolution of the states of warp it begins with.

So, yeah, definite food for thought.

7:03 pm  

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