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Backwards Up Niagara Falls: Space/Time, Image/Text and the Biases of Information
Unformatted Document Text:  15 Narrative-database: Narrative is an important dimension of the temporality of poetry for Lessing: it represents the sequence of actions in time that poetry communicates through the arrangement of signs in time. Narrative temporality is thus never abstract; it is always connected to a material medium and a representational form. The premier narrative forms of modernity are, it’s fair to say, the novel and the cinematic feature film. The former establishes narrative as the movement of events from a source in the past to an unforeseen destination in the future, in which both source and destination are constantly and reciprocally reinterpreted. Novelistic narrative is premised on the openness of the trajectories available: the modern novel, says Umberto Eco, ‘offers a story in which the reader’s main interest is transferred to the unpredictable nature of what will happen and, therefore, to the plot invention which now holds our attention. The event has not happened before the story; it happens while it is being told’ (1979:109). This type of narrativity also emphasizes the singularity of the events and the sovereign individuals from which they are formed: ‘There is no repetition any longer; I am unrepeatable; there will never be another person quite like me; my story is wholly my own’ (Freeman, 1998: 36). Hence the novel, written by a named individual in expectation of private reading by another individual, characteristically produces its narrative as the temporality of progressive, self-aware self-construction, the becoming-time of the individual self. This cultural form intersects with a linear conception of historical time and, more especially, with the emergence of the autobiographical subject in modernity and the ‘project’ of reflexive self- construction (Giddens 1991). A particular kind of textually produced, open-ended temporality is made co-extensive with the movement of self-conscious interiority. Cinema creates a cultural model of temporality that, while retaining the narrativity of the novel, establishes areas of tension with it. Its recording of the audiovisual field is based upon the mechanized sampling of time in standardized spatialized units - X frames per second. Unlike reading, where the reader controls the speed at which signs are decoded, the

Authors: Frosh, Paul.
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15
Narrative-database: Narrative is an important dimension of the temporality of poetry
for Lessing: it represents the sequence of actions in time that poetry communicates through
the arrangement of signs in time. Narrative temporality is thus never abstract; it is always
connected to a material medium and a representational form. The premier narrative forms of
modernity are, it’s fair to say, the novel and the cinematic feature film. The former establishes
narrative as the movement of events from a source in the past to an unforeseen destination in
the future, in which both source and destination are constantly and reciprocally reinterpreted.
Novelistic narrative is premised on the openness of the trajectories available: the modern
novel, says Umberto Eco, ‘offers a story in which the reader’s main interest is transferred to
the unpredictable nature of what will happen and, therefore, to the plot invention which now
holds our attention. The event has not happened before the story; it happens while it is being
told’ (1979:109). This type of narrativity also emphasizes the singularity of the events and the
sovereign individuals from which they are formed: ‘There is no repetition any longer; I am
unrepeatable; there will never be another person quite like me; my story is wholly my own’
(Freeman, 1998: 36). Hence the novel, written by a named individual in expectation of private
reading by another individual, characteristically produces its narrative as the temporality of
progressive, self-aware self-construction, the becoming-time of the individual self. This
cultural form intersects with a linear conception of historical time and, more especially, with
the emergence of the autobiographical subject in modernity and the ‘project’ of reflexive self-
construction (Giddens 1991). A particular kind of textually produced, open-ended temporality
is made co-extensive with the movement of self-conscious interiority.
Cinema creates a cultural model of temporality that, while retaining the narrativity of
the novel, establishes areas of tension with it. Its recording of the audiovisual field is based
upon the mechanized sampling of time in standardized spatialized units - X frames per
second. Unlike reading, where the reader controls the speed at which signs are decoded, the


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