So, after blazin’ through a fair share over <memetic number> words on Kannagi, plot, art and discourse – I condemn timezones and odd sleeping habits for not allowing me to participate – I thought a proper response is due. I’m aware I’ve been absent for quite some while, and while my excuses are legion (depression, writer’s block, nonstimulating schoolwork soaking up time like a sponge and constant travelling) they matter little. What matter is gettin’ it on, and now.
I’ll respond on three seperate points I thought I had something at least semi-worthwhile to utter comments about. Being steeped deep in analytical philosophy is interesting in an environment veering more towards continental theory. It is quite giving, since it’s long been a desire of mine to join the two once again, finding the divide unnecessary, harmful even. This’ll also mean that my viewpoints will be at times quite… incongruous to the discourse the others are in (as opposed to disagreeing), but nothing is more beautiful than the harmony of dissonance. Oh and at times (read: most of the time) I won’t respond at all, but only go on about my view on things without really addressing theirs.
First Response-point: On Plot and Metaphor
Ghostlightning and lelangir touch upon what relationship plot and metaphor has; specifically in the case of Kannagi.
lelangir: I think the fanservice superficial plot is more vehicular to the metaphorical content
Ghostlightning: consequence of conflict: complication of ordinary high school life
lelangir: in the anime, what we see first and foremost is Nagi years ago
Ghostlightning: the metaphorical content does not equal plot
lelangir: clad in traditional clothing as goddess
Ghostlightning: plot can be ‘bad’ but metaphorical content can be awesome
kannagi’s metaphorical content is awesome imo
plot is ordinary
not a value judgment
lelangir: but the metaphorical content is so well lined up that I dont think it cant be anything but plot
To clarify: I don’t use plot in the way Ghostlightning and lelangir does; I use ”plot” for the presentation (”narrative” – Ghostlightning does point this out), and ”story” for the content, their ”plot”. Plot(Use)l+G = Story(Use)k.
To further elaborate, unlike the poststructuralists, I think that it is possible to discern between signified and signifier: in this case, the signifier is the plot, hiding within itself the story – the events as they ”actually” are in diegesis. It gets very interesting when one adds in metaphor as being plot – I agree more with lelangir there than I do with Ghostlightning, not that I’d ever thought of making the equation myself – since metaphor in itself is a signifier of the signified material, the -phoros. (While I am using Sausserean terminology, I have a good deal of Pierce in me – it’s just that his triad is not necessary to make clear what I mean here and I believe Saussures terms are more well-known.)
Without the story, the metaphor doesn’t work. The story as a vehicle for the metaphor establishes soundly that it is a signifier/signified relation. Words are ”vehicles” for meaning – meaning being, as I’ll get into later, a reference to an object (quite possibly another sign).
So the fictional work is a lattice-leaf within the greater semiotic complex-lattice of anime (which is part of the different fields of Western otaku subculture and Eastern, each part of their own greater complexes of nerddom and fiction, which are ultimately part of the semiosphere – the totality of all signs and sign-systems in use). They are all great masses of signs and their ordinary, accepted and controversial relations, all a bit skewed since they lie in the heads of different people, all with slightly different intra-sign relationships due to differing interpretations and experiences.
I have gay colours in my diagrams and schematics because no one else does and I think that’s a shame.
Putting this into a hierarchy and schematizing it (you can atomize it a good bit more – I stop at the objects of metaphor since I won’t adress lower-level signs) as I did above, one might think that they are separate entities, but they are quite inextractable from eachother. Or at least, down to the metaphor – it is not a necessary subdivision of a story. Note, though, that as we go lower down the hierarchy, we also go closer the fictional world and its reality – is perhaps the metaphor-plane where this stops and the false reality again gazes up at ours, slowly becoming more and more part of what is again, to culminate in the signifieds of the smallest signs? Perhaps a fictional world is trapped inbetween the larger social construct from whence it originated and the elements of that construct – or is it a mirage, that the real lies only in the smallest of propositions, and as we craft larger and larger semiotic webs, we lose reality1?
Whether this applies to Kannagi, I am not quite sure myself yet – so while I am defending the viability of lelangir’s original thesis being a viable model for some fiction, I am not arguing that he shouldn’t have abandoned it when it comes to Kannagi in lieu of the two-coexistant-stories view. At least not yet.
Second Response-point: On Genera
I find genera (proper latin plural, biatches, because it looks better, which generoi doesn’t) to be a self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating and harmful practice. The way they originate is wholly arbitrary: while fantasy and sci-fi are named after the elements that appear in the stories, tragedy and comedy are named after what emotional effect they have, and ‘slife after what situations the story is about (yes, Lucky Star has a story. Shock ain’t it?). We could just as well have a genre which went after if there are cellphones or close analogies and an associated set of tropes/clichés – after all, we already have mecha series, with their associated tropes and clichés. That is, unlike the hierarchy of Work-Plot-Story in a signifier-signified sense, genre is a set, with elements being some of the atoms of story.
lelangir: and that’s where I thought the heirarchy of plot/genre was upset
Ghostlightning: particular to specific works
lelangir: so which form does kannagi utilize
I’m just having a hard time articulating this
Ghostlightning: i can imagine
lelangir: the first case is how plot is a glue that connects genre
the second is how everything is already cohesive in the first place
but it’s not visible
it takes something more to realize it
Rather than ”genre” being part of the hierarchy of narrative fiction, it’s an overlapping, intrusive set. It overlaps the whole area of fiction but only contains certain elements – tropes, clichés, conventions, emotive effects. Unlike the internal hierarchy of the work in question, genre only makes sense when it’s an comparison between several works. It is not extractable, not an atom, within a work, as narrative form, events, signs and so on are. But I’d still not say that it is higher in the hierarchy – as I’ve implied, it’s not on the same ”plane” of sign-relations, instead of signifier/signified-relations it is about similarity (belonging to the same set). When a large enough amount – relatively speaking – of signs belong to genre X, the work is now called being a X-show.
Genera give birth to themselves through the prevalence of their cells within a work.
Ghostlightning: use sets
^ The man’s got it all down.
Of course, they are still members of the field of narrative art. They work on the plane of intertextuality, being inplicit, inexact references to a wealth of other work sharing the same interreferences and elements. They are not much different from, say, Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s endless Judeo-Christian references or the whole of Ulysses.
lelangir: so there’s a distinction here
between style and genre
style is romance
genre is mecha
slice of life romance
And here I’d sort-of-disagree sort-of-totally-agree: styles are pretty much the same as genera. Since genera are defined by elements that fall under the umbrella term, works have small doses of genera here and there, of all manners and types. Style is simply renaming; a different kind of similarity cross-works-in-the-discourse.
The harm of pidgeonholing art into genera is the effect it has on the production of it. In further establishing that ”if element A appears, so must element B since they are both members of the same genre”, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Acidic on creativity, and worse, it leads to snobbism of the worst kind (”genre fiction” vs. ”literary fiction”).
praetera censeo genera esse delendam
Third Response-point: On Art and What it Means
Or just ”Meaning”, since I do not fancy aesthetics and go hard for Wittgenstein/Russell/Pierce.
lelangir: things have no meaning until it is represented
representation is CONSTITUTIVE of meaning
lelangir: there is no “thing” before it is represented
representation MAKES the thing
Ghostlightning: there is NO KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT LANGUAGE
Total agreement here. Just had to say that. Or well, ”refer” is a bit different than ”represent” (and the theory of meaning I mostly adhere to is referring), but not by many nontechnical shades.
Pontifus: art has no intrinsic value, which makes it infinitely valuable
Same thing again. I’d extend it to ”everything”.
Cuchlann: Answers, though, real quick: does a book have content if no one reads it?
Cuchlann: You’re unaware of the social mores concerning books.
Pontifus: well, then the book might mean firewood, but we’re talking about the text, i guess, lol
A text, can it mean anything when it is not read or thought of? Once again, I agree with their conclusions (in some sense). I agree too much. Must be my nationality.
Because what does ”mean” mean2? Being the generous semiotician I am, to ”mean” something is to be a referrant relevant to a certain decoding system. Languages are decoding systems, our base cognitive functions are decoding systems (sorted into fear-recognizing areas routing impulses to the amygdala, arousing-specific centra responsible for getting things in order for lovin’ and so on), RNA is the language that decodes DNA into a full human being and so on.
Is the mere possibility of being possible for a decoding system to ”extract” meaning from sign-complex A enough to give A a latent meaning? No, and here Pierce makes an entrance – the interpretor is a necessary part of the sign.
This ”referrant”, the property of referring, is pretty much an atom. It cannot, at all, be described in lower terms, cannot be made an atom.
Of course, this makes the distinction between all possible sorts of meaning sort of fuzzy – the text is meaningful in being decoded by an automaton, prior to that it has still meaning though – it still has an effect on our vision, on our thinking and our relating to the thing, even if we can’t read the pertinent alphabet.
Cuchlann: Discourse is about making meaning. Art makes no meaning on its own, and cannot take part in discourse, as discourse is a two-way street.
Here I’ll disagree on a technicality. Meaning isn’t made – it is decoded after a set of rules. We do not, once in possession of a text, see to the creatio ex nihil of a signified complex. Nay, given the rules for decoding it we have, we conclude the meaning that is decodable by the given set of rules. This is of course possibly a misinterpretation on my part given semantics. Suffice to say, I do not see the reader as ”active” in creating the meaning , and that is what I disagree with – she is on the other hand definitely necessary, no sign without an interpretant. (I need to learn some reader-response and phenomenology, I blame Husserl for being incomprehensible enough for me not to want to get deeper into it).
This is a bit similar, but stated in a very different terminology, to this:
Cuchlann: Art can be considered a product of discourse.
lelangir: but the aesthetic experience can be discursisve
Pontifus: insofar as discourse is one person agreeing with himself…is, i think, the idea, correct me if i’m wrong, o mighty cuchlann
Ghostlightning: the discourse with the self
is between one’s memories
Ghostlightning: and the idea at hand
lelangir: your habitus
your identity is not stable
Ghostlightning: does the idea at hand, FIT?
lelangir: always morphing
being changed by external forces
Imagination is a bitch though, I am still not quite sure it has any semiotic language per se, even if it works with signs and nothing but signs. I am therefore forced to admit a leeeway there that allows for the active creation of meaning.
And what is more important in fiction than imagination?
1) Just me rambling. Seeds of thought, probably already rotten, to be tossed to fat birds, or for the connoisseur with sharper eye than I to breed into a lively and vital tree. (Ooh, metaphor in a discussion about metaphor. How meta).
2) …Sorry, I felt as if I had to ; . ;