Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some Alternative Narratives to Chew On

We had a little store meeting last Sunday, just an hour or so, when most of the staff convened downstairs to put our huge collective brain power to the task of thinking up some new ways we can make ourselves available to the community and generate more buzz about books. Afterwards, the few of us that weren't still working or didn't have anywhere to be went to The Corrib, a little bar down the street that are very familiar with me. Anyway, as we intellectuals (as I type this I have a conical 'dunce' cap on and a finger lodged up my nose ALMOST to the knuckle) are want to do, we started talking about alternative forms of narrative and specifically, time in narrative. I'm taking a class right now based entirely on narrative in film and novels, and it is my very favourite class. So favourite in fact, that I am approximately 75% more likely to do the homework for it than that of my online biology class. I mean, go figure.

You may remember I posted about this book about a month ago. I said that I believed that I would enjoy this book, I had the strong sensation that it was going to drive me quite insane. It didn't, actually, although by reading the blurb and the quotes on the back of the book, the main reveal of the story was a bit ruined for me, but no matter. This story is the narrative of one mans' life, run entirely backward, beginning with his death and ending with his birth. Everything is backwards, for example, Tod T. Friendly would go take the food out of his fridge, take it to the grocery store, put it back in its appropriate spot, and then receive money from the staff. In the beginning it seems impossible that you'll ever acclimate to the description of doing things backwards, but halfway through the novel you do kind of get the hang of rearranging events in your mind.

"Memento" was paired with Time's Arrow in my class, and "Timecode" got brought up the other night at our MENSA: Beer Drinker's Club meeting. Both experiment with narrative, "Memento" not only runs backwards but also has forward-moving scenes spliced into its main events sequence. So that's fun. If you haven't seen it, it's based off the short story "Memento Mori" by Jonathon Nolan. In "Timecode", the screen is split into fourths and each square follows a character. So that's four different narratives, moving at once, that are drawn together by certain events that effect them all, for example, the movie takes place in LA and at one point, there is an earthquake. For a second, all four of the characters are experiencing the same thing. I haven't seen this movie since art school, but if you're interested in any kind of film stuff, I recommend it.

Jes brought up this music video by Cibo Matto for "Sugar Water", that bisects the screen, with each half following a different girl, one in forward motion, one in backwards. When the two girls meet, their trajectory changes. It's cool to look at, I'm not sure that it means. I only know Cibo Matto because they were one of the bands The Bronze featured in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" sometime in the 90's. If you need to know ANYTHING about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", now that, I can help you with.

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