Blogs are similar to epistolary narratives in that they are episodic and serial, told in a series of almost-real-time fragments (or in the case of fiction, fragments presented as though they were written in real time) rather than as a whole told after something worth of narration has occurred. Going through notes in DEVONthink I found a quote about epistolary narratives which is rather fitting for blogs:

Cette position temporelle, qui rend le narrateur contemporain de ce quíil raconte, tend ‡ faire de la narration líaction elle-mÍme. . . . Líinstrument Èpistolaire permet de concevoir un narrateur qui ne reconterait rien, qui níaurait díautre objet que sa propre rÈdaction et líeffet de celle-ci sur lui mÍme ou sur autrui. [this temporal position, which makes the narrator contemporary with what he is telling, tends to make the narration itself into the action . . . The epistolary instrument makes it possible to imagine a narrator who would tell nothing, who would have no other object than his own writing and its effect on himself or others.] (Jean Rousset, Narcisse romancier, 60. Qtd. in MacArthur, Extravagant Narratives: Closure and Dynamics in the Epistolary Form. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UP. 1990. 13)

This makes me think not only of the idea that a research blog doesn’t document research but rather performs or is research, but that perhaps this imaginary narrator who would tell nothing is actually present in many blogs?

2 thoughts on “a narrator who tells nothing

  1. Lisbeth Klastrup

    Jill, it’s funny, this idea pretty nicely supplements what Kris Cohen is getting at in “What does the photoblog want”, that I think you might know? I read it just today. He writes: “This is how I want to describe it: the photoblog collapses the activity of photoblogging with the activity of photography without collapsing (1) the space that separates the making of
    photos and the blogging of them, or (2) the time that separates these activities (from a few hours to a few days, depending on oneís backlog of photos), or (3) the desires and pleasures that energize both activities.” (p. 895…). Interesting observation, could one say the same thing, the blogging is researching, but that there is still a spatio-temporal gap between the thought and the writing??

  2. Jill

    Oh, that’s interesting, Lisbeth – and no, I hadn’t seen that paper. But I think what I’m getting at is that there needn’t be any spatio-temporal gap at all? That in a traditional narrative (or in a traditional research paper) there are events or something that has happened or has been thought or some results that have been achieved or data that has been analysed, and then the paper or novel or whatever narrates this “content”. But in an epistolary narrative – and perhaps in a blog – you can (not neessarily must) have a text that instead of narrating some already experienced content actually is “about” its own telling.

    Did that make any more sense?

    And of course the idea that form and content can ever be separateed is often challenged, so maybe this whole arghument sort of falls.

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