Who controls the narration – the narrator or the reader?

In the world of Cybertext, who controls the narration, the narrator or the reader?   Since the beginning of the module, I have always been intrigued by the notion of non-linearity of a narrative. Well for me non-linearity is part of the discovering of the tale, and not the tale itself. How much ever choices we can have in cybertexual narration, at the end point when you recount what you have experienced from the journey through the narrative, you can always conjure a linear tale from it. In essence it is very much akin to the collapse of a wave function in a quantum mechanical system (…..blah blah…. hardcore physics I know) – you have all the choices till the point to make your observation (in this case which branch of the story we are to take), however once you make your observation your choice reduces to unity and you have only one particular course of action/narration till the next point of choice. When you recount back your tale you have no idea of the alternative tales but rather have a seemingly linear story. On the other hand, even in a seemingly linear text such as a novel, the power of the reader/observer is very much present. Aarseth clearly shows this when he mentions the example of the Ayatollah Khoemeni’s interpretation of ‘The Statnic Verses’. The controversy surrounding it shaped the way the text/novel was read and interpreted by others so much so that the controversy surrounding it has lasted for 18 years. Here although the superficial plot of the narration may have been linear, the allegorical and symbolic interpretation of underlying text is still subjected to the nature of the reader and the way in which it is perceived becomes independent, in essence making it non linear. Aarseth’s description of the labyrinth in the context of literary text helps to elucidate my view on the nature of narrative. My opinion of a narrative is that narrative should be a unicursal text where the opinions of the readers should not alter the end results and in the context of interactive media should only reveal alternative plot/ideas/paths leading to the same conclusion – the conclusion may not be an event, it can be a revelation of the central idea or a climatic subplot. In case of a narrative the power of the reader should only be limited to this.   

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One Response to Who controls the narration – the narrator or the reader?

  1. alex says:

    Very interesting comments… so you’re suggesting that ultimately the reader is only able to control interpretation of the narrative, or the path through the narrative to the same end-point? Does this mean that the choices that the reader makes are actually not choices at all, given that they have no impact on the outcome? Or is the path itself more important than the destination?

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