ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

Illiterate: Lost Narratives

Discourse is dead. Soundbite hypnosis prevails. We’ve forgotten how to hear, watch, and read the lost narratives that swim around us, that weave us together. We’ve forgotten.

The lion's head from the side of the lost and found bin... (Photo: virtualDavis)

The lion’s head from the side of the lost and found bin…

Or we’ve chosen to forget, to be illiterate, to ignore the narratives. Chosen to muddle them, to mask them, to distort them.

This is what I see when my optimism is smudged with soot and grease. This is what I was seeing when I came across Tim Akimoff’s thoughts on lost narratives. Or narrative illiteracy.

The saddest thing in the whole world right now is that we’re illiterate.

We’ve lost our sense of narrative. We only remember a few basic things, and into these things we try to cram every thing that makes us happy or sad.

If they fit nicely, we are comforted. If they don’t fit nicely, we re-write them or try to bury them…

The world is full of narratives. It is not ours to decide if they fit something we already understand…

It is ours to listen, to read, to watch. To look beyond the craftsmanship of story to the truths that tie us all together into one big, ugly, beautiful tribe…

And sometimes ours is to suffer in the lack of knowledge. Sometimes ours is to feel, with others, the tragedy that defies explanation. This too is story. (The Narrative, by Tim Akimoff on October 28, 2014, Medium)

Perhaps we can create a lost and found bin for narratives. Perhaps we are that bin… And we can filter through the lost narratives, listening and feeling, even suffering, the truths. And then perhaps we will wipe the smudge from our optimism with a hankie. And sally forth!

Is Pottermore Fiction’s Neverland?

Author J.K. Rowling reads from Harry Potter an...

So I’ll get it out in the open right from the get-go. I’m not a big Harry Potter fan. I’ve read bits and pieces, caught a film on the airplane, but for one reason or another I never caught the bug.

Frank Rose’s post on Deep Media caught my attention. “From PotterWar to Pottermore: The Extraordinary Evolution of Harry’s World” takes a look at J.K Rowling’s cyber quest. From ink and paper to a digital, virtual world, Pottermore promises Harry Potter fans a wormhole into the fantasy land they crave. But fans will do more than simply populate the bleachers of Pottermore; they’ll actively — interactively — participate in the narrative.

a challenge to existing business models… is minor compared to a wholesale rethinking of the art of fiction. And… that’s what Rowling promised—an acknowledgment that the Internet makes possible an entirely new form of narrative, one that readers can not only consume but explore and build upon…

“It’s the same story, with a few crucial additions,” she [J.K. Rowling] says of Pottermore in an introductory video on the site. “The most important one is you. Just as the experience of reading requires that the imaginations of the author and the reader work together to create the story, so Pottermore will be built in part by you, the reader.” (Deap Media)

You with me? Interactive, transmedia Harry Potter. The next frontier… Maybe it’s time for me to take a look!
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Are Some Memoirs Better as Fiction?

“Too often, memoir seems to me an excuse to be fragmentary, incomplete, narratively non-rigorous. Lemon and Flynn’s books are guilty of all three.” ~ Taylor Antrim via The Daily Beast

Taylor Antrim considers whether Happy by Alex Lemon and The Ticking Is the Bomb by Nick Flynn wouldn’t make better novels than memoirs. Both rekindle his sense that “Memoir writing is cheating. I’ve always believed this,… And, anyway, by cheating I don’t mean exaggerating the truth. Of course memoirs contain misrepresentations, even outright lies…” What Antrim means is that they are cheating the reader out of a good story. They are cheating by compiling collection of vignettes, of sketches and passing these hodge-podges along to us without ever bothering to develop their narratives. “I kept wanting Flynn to do more, to apply his imagination to these insights, to tell me a story. But Bomb is content to be a sketchbook, a collage of ideas and scenes—a memoir.

Antrim contends that memoir (at least these memoirs) is the lazy storyteller’s alternative, and that a novel – at least sometimes – is a more compelling vehicle to tell the same story more thoroughly, more engagingly and with a more deftly crafted narrative. It’s a provocative assertion, one that I’ve been grappling with while writing a memoir about renovating a historic property on Lake Champlain. Memoir may fall short of the novel’s narrative finesse, but there is something fascinating about traipsing through the artifacts firsthand, exploring the sketches and conversations, rather than being swept along a Disneyfied storybook interpretation. Much like the best novels, successful memoirs sweep the reader up in a story and carry the reader from beginning to end without losing them in awkward fragments, without abandoning the logical wonders that the narrative trajectory provokes, without suggesting the reader should have waited to read the final draft. And yet, the current obsession with reality storytelling does seem to shift this assertion slightly. Is there a growing wariness if/when memoir becomes too narratively slick? Is there a higher tolerance for scrapbook storytelling?

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