RonosaurusRex

Don Quixote: The Origin of Modern Realism and Metafiction

Adapting genres, Cervantes created two new ones: realism and metafiction, says Robert Alter in Partial Magic (1979). The “juxtaposition of high-flown literary fantasies with grubby actuality” established realism, while the “zestfully ostentatious manipulation” of the artifice of literary creation set precedent for “all the self-conscious novelists to come” (Alter 3 – 4). Realism and metafiction were born on the same day and became, almost immediately, rivals. Metafiction is the elder brother, however, since realism was a metafictional technique Cervantes created to parody the conventions of romance. Most fiction since Cervantes, says Alter, can be classified under one of these two headings.

Continue reading …

Posted in Premodern Metafiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don Quixote: A Compendium of Genres, a Book of Books

friendship-of-don-quixote

Don Quixote may be the first modern novel, but Cervantes did not pull it out of the air like a magician’s bouquet. The Spanish bard borrowed language, story, form and genre, giving them his own indelible stamp. The stories he borrowed became his own.

Obviously, the principal genre Cervantes plundered was chivalric romance. Romances are the authors of Don Quixote’s madness, they serve as guidebooks for his speech and behavior, and they are the templates for the novel. The book follows the typical structure, story line, chronotopes and many conventions, but the heroic tale becomes a parody as it passes through the hands of multiple authors, some realistic and some rhetorical.

Continue reading …

Posted in Premodern Metafiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Collective Memory: The Content and Form of Your Memories are Influenced by Culture

(An extract of my book Narrative Madness, which you can get at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon.)

Since we humans construct our narratives and memories socially, we could ask, “Do we have a collective memory?” Frederic Bartlett, often called the first experimental psychologist, criticized the concept, since “collective memory” seems to suggest a group brain. Societies don’t have brains. We must understand group memory, then, as distributed in the minds of individuals, in discourse, and in symbolic records. “Collective memory” is just a metaphor and taking it too literally is sign of narrative madness.

Continue reading …

Posted in Truth and Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Response

The Official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Narrative Madness” by Ronald B. Richardson, editor Katie Fox

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Narrative Madness" by Ronald B. Richardson, editor Katie Fox.]

Narrative Madness is a non-fiction book that uses Don Quixote as its primary literary device in explaining how people in general construct a narrative in everyday life. Richardson looks at a variety of different factors to explain what causes our “madness” and how everyone suffers from the same ailment. He examines our habits in everyday life and how our use of different languages not only shapes our minds but defines our world. What is in a name? How does that affect how we view objects? Can narratives be defined and constrained or are they reconstructed based on who is issuing the narrative? What responsibilities are readers given by the authors when they decipher the story? All of these questions are examined in this book and explained in much detail to try and further understanding.

Continue reading …

Posted in Truth and Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Myth of Myths: Ronald B. Richardson Reads at You’re Going to Die Literary Event

They were not like this before; the story has brought them together.

At the You’re Going to Die literary and music event, I read parts of “The Myth of Myths: The Development of Human Culture through Mythmaking,” which is an extract of my book Narrative Madness, available at narrativemadness.com or Amazon. This piece was influenced Jean Luc Nancy’s essay  “Myth Interrupted” from his book The Inoperative Community.

Posted in Truth and Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Representation of Amusement Parks in Amusement Parks: Meta-Attractions at Disney Parks

Disney Parks have a couple of meta-attractions, attractions that include representations of miniature amusement parks. Visitors can see how Disney, the most famous of amusement parks, represents its own business. I am going to look at two examples, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, which ironically warns the visitor against amusement parks, and It’s a Small World, which presents the amusement park as a unifying symbol of humanity.

Continue reading …

Posted in Metafilm, Music & More | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Response

The Plagiarized Hero: The Hero with a Thousand Borrowed Faces

(An extract of my book Narrative Madness, which you can get at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon.)

Language and storytelling arose as a means of creating and maintaining social ties. Tribes then spread across the planet, trading materials, goods, technology, information and stories, so it should not come as a surprise that our narratives are similar worldwide. As humans, we make up stories habitually in order to understand the universe, ourselves and others, but we can only do so within established narrative language (as we have seen) and (this is the new part) preexisting forms and genres.

Continue reading …

Posted in Premodern Metafiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Simulation Theory, or How We Animate the People We Know and the Fictions We Read

(An extract of my book Narrative Madness, which you can get at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon and a follow up to my post How Hominids Manage Tricky Social Situations: The Theory of Mind and Mindreading Games.)

The simulation theory takes the theory of mind a step further. Instead of trying to guess what others are thinking, we humans put ourselves in the other’s shoes, as the saying goes, in order to feel what the other is feeling.

Continue reading …

Posted in Truth and Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Response

How Hominids Manage Tricky Social Relations: The Theory of Mind and Mindreading Games

(An extract of my book Narrative Madness, which you can get at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon.)

The Machiavellian Prince of Primates

Many other species are social as well, so why didn’t they develop sophisticated systems of symbolic communication? Primate societies developed language because of the exaggerated complexity of our manipulative social interactions. The MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Sciences says that “primate social relationships have been characterized as manipulative and sometimes deceptive at sophisticated levels” (Wilson and Kiel). Writes Kerstin Dautenhahn, biologist and professor of computer science, paraphrasing Frans de Waal, “Identifying friends and allies, predicting behavior of others, knowing how to form alliances, manipulating group members, making war, love and peace, are important ingredients of primate politics.” A hominid skilled at manipulation would be better suited than its more submissive counterparts to win resources, sex and power.

The repeated emphasis on manipulation calls to mind the frank and cynical sociological theories of Machiavelli. In fact, the term “Machiavellian intelligence” is often used to describe the kind of intelligence primates developed to negotiate these tricky social relations.

Continue reading …

Posted in Truth and Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Narrative Madness: Humans are the Stories They Tell about Themselves

(A summarized excerpt of my book Narrative Madness, which you can get at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon.)

What distinguishes humans from the animals are statements like “What distinguishes humans from the animals . . . .” In other words, the only thing that separates us from animals is an ongoing narrative that says we are not animals. The human is the animal that pretends that it is not. Most of our social rules are designed to hide our animal natures from ourselves: shaving our beards, using deodorant, wearing clothes, buying prepackaged meat, using silverware, not fighting over food, not farting or fucking in public.

Continue reading …

Posted in Premodern Metafiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment