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Hi all--the computer ate my first version of this question, so now I just sort of want to ask "What's up with David Lynch?" and call it a day.

More precisely, what's up with Lynchian narratives (like Josh's story) that seem to operate on bending/breaking the rules under which the reader assumes the story is operating? This move seems "allowed" in the same way we allow characters to turn into crabs in magical realism, or characters to hallucinate major plot events (Thompson, since Charlie brought him up), but it feels to me like a different sort of strategy. Aside from Josh's piece, and David Lynch, fiction with intentional (uncommented-on) anachronisms also strikes me as being in this category, just to list another example. At least to me, it seems that these pieces tend to hew much closer to strict realism than someone like Marquez.

So, question: how do these succeed (which involves, I think, the reader's acceptance of the rule-breaking), and what are the effects of this strategy in the first place? I'm drawn to fiction like this and find it interesting, but I'm sort of unable to articulate why or how it's working.

Comments

Sara raises a question about stories that “operate on bending/breaking the rules under which the reader assumes the story is operating.” Without speaking specifically about my own story, I will say that, in general, one thing such rule-breaking can do is to ask the reader to open her mind to unexpected dimensions in which the story might function. Godard tried to do this in his films. Godard intentionally broke Hollywood conventions with the aim of provoking critical-ness and thoughtfulness in the viewer. For example, he would disrupt the hypnotic spell of the movie by catching a cameraman in the frame; or he would have a character make direct eye contact with the audience and break from the story to deliver a Marxist analysis of French imperialism. Arguably, Tarkovsky is another filmmaker who also bent and broke rules. His stories are very strange and very, very slow and long—they take real stamina to get through. But, I feel that their effect is to open up a heightened aesthetic consciousness in the viewer, and this effect makes the films worth watching. (Tarkovsky said he wanted his movies to reveal God.) I commented in class that I think Nightwood implicates the reader in obsessive solipsistic pain—makes the reader aware of his own obsessive-solipsistic consciousness co-existing alongside the Doctor and Nora.
Also, see my response to Charlie’s post about Lynch.

Sorry if this gets posted twice. Having technical difficulties! -
Without speaking specifically about my own story, I will say that, in general, one thing such rule-bending and rule-breaking can do is to ask the reader to open her mind to unexpected dimensions in which the story might function. Godard tried to do this in his films. Godard intentionally broke Hollywood conventions with the aim of provoking critical-ness and thoughtfulness in the viewer. For example, he would disrupt the hypnotic spell of the movie by catching a cameraman in the frame; or he would have a character make direct eye contact with the audience and break from the story to deliver a Marxist analysis of French imperialism. Arguably, Tarkovsky is another filmmaker who also bent and broke rules. His stories are very strange and very, very slow and long—they take real stamina to get through. But, I feel that their effect is to open up a heightened aesthetic consciousness in the viewer, and this effect makes the films worth watching. (Tarkovsky said he wanted his movies to reveal God.) I commented in class that I think Nightwood implicates the reader in obsessive solipsistic pain—makes the reader aware of his own obsessive-solipsistic consciousness co-existing alongside the Doctor and Nora.
Also, see my response to Charlie’s post about Lynch.

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