Complex vs Complicated (Blog 2, 6/7)

The real author, Guillermo Samperio, writes a story called “She Lived in a Story,” where a fictional writer, Guillermo Segovia, is writing a story about a woman named Ofelia who writes a story about Guillermo Segovia/Samperio. In this headache-inducing scenario, Ofelia writes, “I write that he writes a story that I live in” (60). What Samperio (the real one) has done here is create one of those infinite loops found in Computer Science where the program will keep cycling back on itself (either because of an error in code, or intentionally), but I’ll get back to that in a second.

This story is not a complicated one; it’s complex. I believe there’s a difference, and I believe the story is complex over complicated, even if I’ve been struggling for a bit trying to come up with a definite line between the two. I could be way off on my analysis, but let’s see if this makes any sense: Something is complicated if it has a number of complex variables comprising the sum. And because of the number of variables, it’s quite easy not only to lose someone’s interest, but have the sum make no sense at all: e.g. 3 + 2 + 4 = 43. Intricate murder-mysteries are complicated, for example, which is why half of them could have trucks driven through the plots: A killed B because B had information about C that might be damaging to A even though D was the real culprit who set the whole thing up because of something that E did when on vacation with F. Who was A again? What happened? Why? This story isn’t like that. Every step of the story is laid out neatly (save for maybe the ending), as discussed in the opening line. There’s no complication. It’s mind-bending, to be sure, and the ending is up for interpretation about whose story it is and whatnot, but the flow of events and the actions that take place are clearly defined. Complex, not complicated. I think. I hope. Who knows?

Back to the infinite loop as related to the quote in the top paragraph: the computer program, the double mirror, Da Vinci’s Last Supper (where, according to Professor Clark of the Art History Department, the painting is meant to be infinite because of the tilt of the characters’ heads; no matter which way you follow the image, it takes you right back the other way, then back again, and so on, like a forever-swinging pendulum). I think the whole I write that he writes that I write that he writes that I write … and so on and so forth creates this kind of infinite loop where, even though Samperio does kind of create an ending at the end of his story, sets himself up for this work to be limitless in its scope.

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