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Saturday, 14 February 2009

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Ahistoricality

Two questions: first, where did that last quotation come from? It really sounds like parody. Second, my immediate reaction to these kinds of episodes (and I'm not actually watching BSG, but I can't help running across discussion of it here and there) is that the writers themselves are struggling with the story: the public recitation of the history as it currently exists is intended to keep future writers from violating the premises of the ongoing series; it also can serve to bridge plausibility gaps, fill in narrative holes and continuity issues that have been created by sloppy or overaggressive plotting.

Most ongoing series have a set of premises, backstories, etc. It's not an accident that these are known as the "bible" of the show.

Ahistoricality

OK, that second one didn't really develop into a question.

Scott Eric Kaufman

Zounds! That last quotation's not a parody, it's from my Master's thesis, which I presented as a paper before the International James Joyce Society in Trieste! Which is in Italy!

Because I'm special!

I'm . . . special.

Seriously though, I should've spent a little more time in the post demonstrating how exhaustive my research into the Dublin tramlines was before throwing that quotation out there. Not that my conclusion wasn't absurd---I merely foisted that absurdity onto Joyce. In a nutshell: I did an obscene amount of research in order to document which tramlines belonged to Martin, then mapped all the scenes in Joyce's oeuvre onto the map of Martin's tramlines I'd devised. I then tracked how Joyce treated each of those intersections of character-and-Martin-owned-tramline---seventeen in all---and argued that Joyce had intentionally put Stephen on that tram at that time in order to humiliate Martin.

Sadly, my argument works. I mean, if you look at it objectively, Joyce did put all those people (and their corresponding emotional valences) on those trams which belonged to that guy . . . but to claim, as I did, that it was an intentional strategy is well-nigh insane. Joyce never cared about history in that way---I did, and I mistook my meticulousness for something in the text. In short, I found something that just so happened to be backed up by history, but that was the turning point in my career. I could've continued to manufacture compelling nothings, or I could try to figure out relations that actually mattered.

I only hope you know what choice I made.

Ahistoricality

Damn: I thought it might be from one of your undergrad papers -- you've cited them before as evidence of ... your subsequent maturation as a scholar and writer. I didn't know: I'm sorry.

"You chose wisely."

Vance Maverick

Isn't there a classical form of late infodump -- the moment when the detective has all the suspects assembled in the drawing room, and harangues them with untrammeled prolixity until picking one, seemingly at random, as It?

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