Wednesday, 1 December 2010

internet as a potentially epic narrative

It has seldom been realized that the listener's naive relation-
ship to the storyteller is controlled by his interest in retaining
what he is told. The cardinal point for the unaffected listener is
to assure himself of the possibility of reproducing the story.
Memory is the epic faculty par excellence. Only by virtue of a
comprehensive memory can epic writing absorb the course of
events on the one hand and, with the passing of these, make its
peace with the power of death on the other.[...]
Mnemosyne, the rememberer, was the Muse of the epic art
among the Greeks. This name takes the observer back to a part-
ing of the ways in world history. For if the record kept by mem-
ory-historiography-constitutes the creative matrix of the var-
ious epic forms (as great prose is the creative matrix of the
various metrical forms), its oldest form, the epic, by virtue of
being a kind of common denominator includes the story and the
novel. When in the course of centuries the novel began to emerge
from the womb of the epic, it turned out that in the novel the
element of the epic mind that is derived from the Muse-that is,
memory-manifests itself in a fonn quite different from the way
it manifests itself in the story.
Memory creates the chain of tradition which passes a hap-
pening on from generation to generation. It is the Muse-derived
element of the epic art in a broader sense and encompasses its
varieties. In the first place among these is the one practiced by
the storyteller. It starts the web which all stories together form
in the end. One ties on to the next, as the great storytellers, par-
ticuhtrly the Oriental ones, have always readily shown. In each
of them there is a Scheherazade who thinks of a fresh story when-
ever her tale comes to a stop. This is epic remembrance and the
Muse-inspired element of the narrative. But this should be set
against another principle, also a Muse-derived element in a nar-
rower sense, which as an element of the novel in its earliest
form-that is, in the epic-lies concealed, still undifferentiated
from the similatly derived element of the story. It can, at any
rate, occasionally be divined in the epics, particularly at moments
of solemnity in the Homeric epics, as in the invocations to the
Muse at their beginning. What announces itself in these passages
is the perpetuating remembrance of the novelist as contrasted
with the short-lived reminiscences of the storyteller. The first is
dedicated to one hero, one odyssey, one battle; the second, to
many diffuse occurrences. It is, in other words, remembrance
which, as the Muse-derived element of the novel, is added to
reminiscence, the corresponding element of the story, the unity
of their origin in memory having disappeared with the decline
of the epic.[...]
Regarding this aspect of the matter we owe the
most important elucidation to Georg Lukacs, who sees in the
novel "the form of transcendental homelessness." According to
Lukacs, the novel is at the same time the only art form which
includes time among its constitutive principles.[..]

The "meaning of life" is really the center about which the
novel moves. But the quest for it is no more than the initial ex-
pression of perplexity with which its reader sees himself living
this written life. Here "meaning of life" -there "moral of the
story": with these slogans novel and story confront each other.
and from them the totally different historical co-ordinates of
these art forms may be discerned. If Don Quixote is the earliest
perfect specimen of the novel, its latest exemplar is perhaps the
Education sentimentale.
[...] That old co-ordination of the soul, the eye, and the hand
which emerges in Valery's words is that of the artisan which we
encounter wherever the art of storytelling is at home. In fact,
one can go on and ask oneself whether the relationship of the
storyteller to his material, human life, is not in itself a craftsman's
relationship, whether it is not his very task to fashion the raw
material of experience, his own and that of others, in a solid,
useful, and unique way. It is a kind of procedure which may
perhaps most adequately be by the. proverb if one
thinks of it as an ideogram of a story. A proverb, one might say,
is a ruin which stands on the site of an old story and in which
a moral twines about a happening like ivy around a wall.
Seen in this way, the storyteller joins the ranks of the teach-
ers and sages. He has counsel-not for a few situations, as the
proverb does, but for many, like the sage. For it is granted to
him to reach back to a whole lifetime (a life, incidentally, that
comprises not only his own experience but no little of the ex-
perience of others; what the storyteller knows from hearsay is
added to his own). His gift is the ability to relate his life; his
distinction, to be able to tell his entire life. The storyteller: he
is the man who could let the wick of his life be consumed com-
pletely by the gentle flame of his story. This is the basis of the
incomparable aura about the storyteller, in Leskov as in Hauff,
in Poe as in Stevenson. The storyteller is the figure in which the
righteous man encounters himself.

[W.Benjamin ,The Storyteller, Illuminations]


xtina said...

In mathematics, a topological space X is said to be ultraconnected if no pair of nonempty closed sets of X is disjoint. All ultraconnected spaces are path-connected, normal, limit point compact, and pseudocompact.

xtina said...

"Let me clarify this procedure by using an example from contem­porary computer jargon. The role of the human figure in such a system is like a cursor in a document one is in the process of creating, and to which he may well return later for further additions and alterations. The human figure in a local memory system is like a cursor in that it stands out from the rest of the configured letters, symbols, and images, which thus permits movement from one part of the newly created text to another. As the cursor, he indicates—by a trace—from where he has come; further, he provides (and is himself) a convenient place to review or advance toward any other part of the document."

william e. engel