Friday, October 10, 2008

Why diegetics?


Di`e*ge"sis\, n. [NL., fr. Gr. ?, fr. ? to narrate; dia` through + ? to lead.] A narrative or history; a recital or relation.

Diegesis is

  1. the (fictional) world in which the situations and events narrated occur; and
  2. telling, recounting, as opposed to showing, enacting.

For a very long time I wanted to start a blog. I didn't know where to begin or to whom I wanted to write. With a word, 'diegetics', I found my voice. I have spent quite a long time examining the epistemology of perspective, and how it impacts our world. Not so much as in how it informs our worldview, but how much informs our world. When we think, we act, when we act we shape the world around us. While the world is a real and tangible thing, full of exigent circumstances that must be acknowledged, it is also mutable. We have the ability to affect our environment.

This post-modern notion is quite discomforting for many people for whom the idea of a static reality, a reality that confirms their thoughts, their beliefs, their biases, is vital to their ontological well-being.

At this moment in history, that is stripped from them, brutally, by a society that doesn't care for their notions of propriety. In this society you can be anything...supposedly.

You get to choose what role you play in the grand drama of your life. Again...supposedly. We use narrative to describe our lives, to understand history and our place within it. We craft a story where for better or worse we have chosen a role to play. Some of us are not even the protagonists in our own lives.

Diegesis refers to the flow of the story. Diegetics, as I am using it refers to the study of context. How does the thing being viewed fit into the broader context? Sometimes it doesn't, and that's when we come to an ontological crisis, where the paradigm shifts and we shift with it. Our ability to shape our world suddenly comes into question as our circumstances drag us kicking and screaming along with them.

In our world, we are beset by virtual realities, little mini worlds where we can assume another role, but it fits seemlessly within our larger role, as we devote part of the greater context to this lesser context. On occasion it is for a night, when we chat up that beautiful girl we met in the bar. Other times it is for an extended period of time, as we cultivate an online career in a Massively Multiplayer Online game.

This blog is dedicated to how our virtual worlds, the worlds inside our head come out and become our real world. When we emerged from the muck, it is possible that the voices in our head seemed to us like the voices of the ancestors, or of Gods of some kind. At some point the voices of some came to represent a greater validity than the voices of others. That leads us to where we are today.

I intend to address epistemological issues that I am exploring, but this blog is also about media, and how we use media, and how media uses us. My posts will alternate between a philosophy of the historical narrative in which we reside, and an analysis of how we present our crafted narratives to ourselves and each other. So expect the occasional pseudo-intellectual meandering, (I am crafting one now) interspersed with discussions of media, information systems and more specifically the transmedia medium in which we reside here on the internet.


Joseph L. said...

Hello, Erek, excellent blog. Sorry to be so late in responding to it.

Your topic does indeed hit on the core of pretty much all human concerns, the "cut" that slashes through every level of our perceptual and mental worlds. I have long been obsessed with finding the dualistic divide in everything, and wondering how every one of them may be related: the difference between Is/Ought, Subjective/Objective, "pragmatic"/"ideological", Communitarian/Authoritarian, et al, all seem to me related in the nature of the rift that separates the terms.

The study of this phenomenon and its consequences ought to be the focus of any endeavor in humanist study. Zizek has been very influential on my thinking in this regard. He also emphasizes the importance of context and perspective, and particular the parallax of perspectives. For him, the rift is roughly identical with the human propensity for fantasy.

Fantasy is the force in the mind that basically fills in the eternal gap in between any person's pleasure principle, and the fact that they are adrift in an objective physical world that does not meet their desires. Dissatisfaction, or, abstractly, "need", seems to be the motive force is virtually all human behavior, and fantasy is the bridging mechanism that allows our lacks to reach out and rearrange the surrounding reality in different ways.

As such, all ideologies and religions fall under "fantasy," and the use of the terms should not be taken to denigrate any ideology or religion. Fantasy, in that respect, is also identical with "spirituality". Whenever an address is met with silence, whenever a message is sent from the mind and not answered, fantasy enters. That links prayer, political commitment, philosophy, meditation, into kindred activities.

Zizek does ultimately, for me, leave a lot of traditionally leftist assumptions unexamined, making his work less useful in speculating on solutions and a practical forward direction. But his analysis of the current world dynamic, the role of fantasy in belief systems and economic operations, is masterful.

erek.tinker said...


Sorry I didn't see this before now, I thought it was e-mailing me comments.

Do you have any particular works on Zizek you'd recommend in this regard? All I've read by him is 'How to Read Lacan'.

The nature of the spirit as fantasy is something I am not comfortable with embracing. Obviously there is a major current in our society that labels fantasy as 'evil' and tries to place religious belief in opposition to it. The implication of my ideas here is that ultimately it places religious ideas in opposition to competing fantasies.

Part of my exploration of this is the validation of fantasy, the recognition that life itself once basic material needs are met is entirely fantasy. The idea of personality, of identity is based upon symbolic representations of personal being. Without those symbols there is literally nothing, no authentic self outside of the id/ego that serves as the scaffold for the personality. Certainly it is affected by objective fact. IE, we are partially who we are based on our physical attributes, our location in space-time, our chemical and structural composition, but our social interaction take place entirely in a symbolic realm.

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