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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, October 3, 2011


In my POETRY IN MOTION essays I agreed with Northrop Frye's analysis that all fictional narrative can be seen to contain both "narrative values," the elements which allow the "body" of the story to function properly, and "signficant values," the elements that endow the narrative as a whole with significance.

Nonfictional narratives, such as my essays here, cannot be fully reducible to the same dynamics as those of fictional narrative.  Nevertheless, there are rough parallels to these two types of values in nonfictional narrative.

It might be asserted that most of my essays on the subject of literary phenomenality (beginning with this May 2008 post) have concentrated upon building up the "body" of my own critical narrative.  First I sectioned the body off into two distinct portions, the isophenomenal (those phenomena which are "the same" as what we know in consensual reality) and the metaphenomenal (those phenomena that go "beyond" the bounds of what we know or accept as "the real.")  The metaphenomenal side has received much more attention than the isophenomenal side, in that I continued to analyze the former in terms of literary tropes that may be categorized as either "uncanny" or "marvelous."  By contrast, all the tropes of the isophenomenal fall within the realm of "the naturalistic," though one could mount an argument that even within a naturalistic framework some tropes may seem more "natural" than others.

All that recapitulated, one may fairly ask-- what are the "significant values" of this critical narrative?

The answer, insofar as one can be set in stone (or cyber-characters), is that however authors or their readers may conceive the phenomena of their experiental worlds, in fiction phenomenality is what I call (after Susanne Langer) a "gesture."  It does not assert reality, as nonfictional narrative does, but an abstracted gesture toward reality.  Thus, whether a fictional narrative portrays a world within a naturalistic, uncanny or marvelous mode, it does not do so purely to mirror the author's own convictions on the subject.  In fiction  authors inherit and continue a wealth of cultural motifs that can be fairly called intersubjective, in that they communicate to readers a set of shared meanings that go beyond simple societal functionalism.

At the end of Part 2 of THE INTERSUBJECTIVITY SOLUTION, I wrote:

Each story resonates with some though not all readers precisely because each evokes a "significance" in those readers; a significance founded in the conventions of storytelling and in the expectations of readers looking to have those conventions both confirmed and denied.
In the next two parts of this essay-serial, I'll look at how two different authors have described the phenomenality behind their literary universes.  Then I'll wind up by describing the relevance of their respective intersubjectivities for the literary analyst.

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