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It Becomes Your Reality (Blog 5, 6/13)

Don Quixote, if that is in fact his real name, loses his mind to the world of books; incidentally, I feel the same way—though … okay … I suppose it is for different reasons. Anyway, he loses himself in the romance and chivalry of a time hundreds of years before him. So obsessed and possessed does he become with reading these tales and living in their fictional worlds that his perception of what is real and what isn’t begins to morph. The narrator says of Don Quixote, “The idea that this whole fabric of famous fabrications was real so established itself in his mind that no history in the world was truer for him” (Cervantes 27). For DQ, reality and fiction are no longer in their proper places; they have reversed. The quote says that “no history in the world was truer for him”: what the narrator means by this is that the fictional world has become his reality to the extent that the real world, to his eyes, has come to resemble the fictional one. Even though chivalry and the knightly ways are dead, to him it still very much exists; they exists, in fact, to such an extent that he ventures out to become a knight errant just like the kinds he’s read so much about. He’s a madman—a funny madman, to be sure—but a madman nonetheless; still, though, I have to admire him for his unrelenting tenacity in pursuing his dream. I read a lot of fantasy, and though I hope my mind doesn’t fracture like DQ’s, I always imagine how cool it would be to live in one of those worlds.

Like I said in class, Christopher Nolan’s Inception is a great example of how this works. If you haven’t seen the film, you must. Any Christopher Nolan film is spectacular, at that; see them all. Here’s a trailer for Inception:

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I Convince Myself I Almost Died (Blog 4, 6/9)

(Absent for Religious reasons.)

So this happened a while ago. I was maybe 10. My sister, who’s four years older, and I were biking to the park. The park was smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood, so there’s all these house and stuff around.

So we’re passing this house where this guy’s working in his garage; door’s open, he’s plugging away at whatever, and his dog (might have been a Golden Shepherd, though in my mind it was a ferocious thing with frothy lips and dagger-like teeth and Raptor-sized claws) comes racing out after us. I was a super fast biker, and my sister was slow, and so I’d gotten pretty far ahead of her. So the dog races at her. She freaks out. Jumps off her bike. Tries to use it as a shield. Shouts for help. It’s all very tragic. Meanwhile dog’s jumping around, barking at her, and I’ve gotten off my bike in the meanwhile and am watching it all from the distance. So noble brother that I am, I bark at the dog. Dog, of course, looks at me and decides to race after me know: the idiot that barked. I’m having none of that. I hop on my bike and take off. Dog’s fast, though, and he catches up to me on the bridge in the park. He’s nipping at my heels (maybe not nipping, but he was doing something down there), and I think he’s going to get his nose stuck in my tires and I’m going to flip. All the while I’m wondering where this dog’s owner is, and whether or not I should kick the fellow where it counts whenever he shows up. On foot, the dog comes at me. Athletic dude that I am, I throw a few juke moves at the lunging dog. He whiffs twice; one of the times I accidentally kicked him in the face. But the dog’s not backing down, my sister hasn’t shown me the same graciousness I showed her, and the sun’s beginning to go down (not sure why that matters, but I remember the sun starting to go down; seems like a nice touch on the scene). After another juke, I leap up onto the mini-brick wall running along the bridge’s edge: it’s about three feet wide, maybe four feet high. I think I’ve got it made. The dog’s pacing on the ground; he can’t reach me up here. But then he does this half jump and his paws grab the top of the wall. It’s as far as he can get, but I panic and stumble backwards. I almost fall, but I don’t.

It would be some time after the incident that I would be walking over the bridge again, walk by that spot, and look over the edge, at the flowing water and massive rocks thirty feet down. If I’d fallen on that day, who knows what might have happen? Nothing had happened, really. My life was never in any danger; the dog ended up following us home without further attack, and I never saw it again. But the incident sticks with me today, and I always wonder about the smallest things—how if they’d gone wrong, I’d have cracked my head open or been hit by a bus or got into a crazy car crash. There’s no real morale to this story; nothing really to be learned. Only that always thinking about how you might have died doesn’t really make you think about how to be a better person and be a benefit to mankind; it makes you think about how you almost died, and there’s usually an accompaniment of nausea and sweaty palms.

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Exposition (Blog 3, 6/8)

(Was absent for Religious reasons.)

There are many ways to construct a narrative. One such mode is called a “matrix narrative”: this is where the narrative contains an “embedded” narrative or “hyponarrative” (Jahn N2.4.1). An “embedded” narrative or “hyponarrative” can serve a number of functions, one of which is “exposition”: where “the hyponarrative provides information about events that lie outside the primary action line of the matrix narrative (specifically, events that occurred in the past)” (Jahn N2.4.6). Guillermo Samperio illustrates the effective usage of exposition in his story, “She Lived in A Story.” In the story, the writer Guillermo Sagovia is driving home after having given a lecture to a gathering of students when the narrator breaks from the present time of the text to reveal information about Segovia: “Guillermo Segovia had just turned thirty-four; he had three books of stories, a novel and a series of newspaper articles published domestically and abroad, especially in France, where he received his degree in literature. Returning to Mexico six years before his speech at the Academy, he had married Elena, a young Columbian researcher, with whom he had two children. On his return, the writer took a job at a newspaper, while his wife worked at the National University of Mexico. They rented a small house in old Coyoacan, where they lived comfortably” (Samperio 57). This quote breaks from the primary narrative, and is “embedded” into the larger narrative, in order to expose information about the character of Guillermo Segovia and, more specifically, about his past. The exposition gives Guillermo’s age (“just turned thirty-four”) and it tells of his literary accomplishments (“he had three books …”). The exposition tells of how long it has been since Guillermo returned to Mexico (“six years”), where he now lives (“Mexico”), and reveals the makeup of his family: a wife (“Elena”) and two children. The exposition tells the specific locale of his home (“Coyoacan”) and the nature of his living arrangements (“small house …”). All of this exposition is background information, mostly about past events, and operates in the backdrop of the primary narrative: Guillermo’s arc of travelling home and beginning work on his new story.

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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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I Want to Live in My Own Words (Blog 1, 6/6)

In Guillermo Samperio’s trippy short story, “She lived in a Story,” the fictional writer Guillermo Segovia mulls over the idea of a real person being able to inhabit a text (whatever that means): “‘Dramatists have written plays in an attempt to approach the ancient dream of the fiction writer: that human beings live in their texts. Thus, artistic creation transcends the imaginary level in order to achieve reality. In regard to my own concept, the movement is reversed; that is, reality moves toward the imaginary’” (Samperio 56). This passage is part of a larger rumination on the subject of being able to “inhabit” the text (maybe emotionally, mentally, physically?) but this is really the crux of it: how to live in the world of words—a place with no real solidarity. But what is he talking about? A person actually feeling like they’re part of the story? Characters drawn so well that they seem to come alive off the page? The statement “that human beings live in their texts” is very cryptic in this sense: Which human beings is Segovia referring to? Real people, or fictional people? Or in the story he’s trying to compose, is that the line he wants to blur? Segovia (and perhaps/likely Samperio himself), after all, in the last sentence in the passage is placing himself against the idea of realism being so super important; to him, it would seem, that transporting people into an imaginary world is more important than making the imaginary world seem real. This is not something you’d expect to hear from a literary type. How often do you hear praises in a pointless creative writing class about how “real that sounded, man”? Segovia’s quest at the beginning of the story is in that vein: How can he inhabit his own world of words? Segovia has an earlier thought about an architect living in his own fantasy by living in the house he designs; in the world of words this isn’t possible, unless one closes their eyes—but that’s hardly the same thing. Segovia is searching for the way to do it, and he finds it by writing a story about a woman writing a story in which he is a character. Hence: He’s in the text! This isn’t something you can physically touch, but it’s a sight closer that writing a tale in the first-person.  It’s obviously not that straightforward, but the looping complexity of the structure (something I love and will hopefully talk about in the next blog) is kind of giving me a headache right now so I’ll let this be for the moment.

Reminds me of Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation. Wish I had some clips.

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