[Humanist] 29.141 storytelling digitally

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Jul 6 00:03:40 CEST 2015

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 141.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 4 Jul 2015 21:35:49 -0400
        From: Francois Lachance <lachance at chass.utoronto.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 29.126 storytelling digitally
        In-Reply-To: <20150629013541.F3E84A44 at digitalhumanities.org>


The post 29.126 has been niggling at me for days. I originally want to 
reply with a simple observation that the appeal to storytelling is cast in 
such a way to avoid the complications of narration's relation to narrative 
(the telling and the told; shown and said). But it was the theme of 
"borrowing" from one domain by another that leads me to recall a 
counter-narrative where there is no need to borrow between domains since 
the military-industrial-entertainment complex is one entity.

I contend that fundamental to human interaction is narration: 
attentiveness to how stories are related. Stories are for sorting and 
storing. *Sometimes this soothes paranoia induced by too much 

A while ago (1996), I explored recursivity and narrativity. My starting 
point was the ability to ask questions (and learn from one's bodily 
reactions). The musings may or may not have military relevance. Judge for 


Pedagogical situations are sensory.  They are also interpersonal.  Because 
they are sensory this makes even learning by oneself interpersonal. 
Egocentric speech is like a dialogue between the senses.  In Vygotsky's 
and Luria's experiments, children placed in problem-solving situations 
that were slightly too difficult for them displayed egocentric speech. 
One could consider these as self-induced metadiscursive moments.  The self 
in crisis will disassociate and one's questionning becomes the object of a 

Not only is the human self as a metabeing both fracturable and affiliable 
in itself, it is also prone to narrativity.  That is, the human self will 
project its self-making onto the world in order to generate stories from 
sequences and to break stories into recombinant sequences.  Its operations 
on signs are material practices with consequences for world-making.

The fracturable affiliable self calls for reproductive models suitable to 
the interactions of multi-sensate beings, models that render dyads 
dialectical, questionable, answerable.  Narrativity understood 
dialectically does not merely mean making sequences or strings of events 
into stories but also stories into things, strung together for more 
stories.  From such an understanding, emerge non-dyadic narratives of 
reproduction, narratives where a thing-born transforms itself into an 
event, comes to understand itself as a process.



Funny to consider that those remarks were based in a consideration of 
language and feedback mechanisms. Make me think that the storytelling as 
"potent form of emotional cueing" may be directed to undesired responses 
such as greater self-reflexivity. And depending on how they are 
parsed, Hollywood films can contribute to undesired responses including 
escape. :)

Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks

On Mon, 29 Jun 2015, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 126.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>        Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2015 11:21:37 +1000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: simulation and storytelling
> Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi, in "The Convergence of the Pentagon and
> Hollywood" (Memory Bytes: History, Technology, and Digital Culture, ed.
> Rabinovitz and Geil, 2004), describes in some detail the adoption by
> the U.S. military of the entertainment industry's storytelling techniques
> implemented by means of simulation. This chapter follows on from her
> excellent "Simulating the Unthinkable: Gaming Future War in the 1950s
> and 1960s", Social Studies of Science 30.2 (2000). In the 2004 piece
> she describes a U.S. National Research Council workshop in October 1996
> at which representatives from film, video game, entertainment and
> theme-parks came together with those from the Department of
> Defense, academia and the defense industries. There is much about this
> convergence that we might productively take an interest in. Let me,
> however, highlight storytelling in particular.
> In a military context, Ghamari-Tabrizi points out, skilled storytelling
> techniques are used to help participants in a VR environment sense that
> they are in a real environment and behave accordingly. Storytelling
> functions as a potent form of emotional cueing that would seem to elicit
> the desired responses. But especially interesting, I think, is the fact
> that "many conference participants argued that the preferred mode of
> experiential immersion in electronic media is not the unframed chaos of
> hypertext, but old-fashioned storytelling." She quotes Alex Seiden of
> Industrial Light and Magic (note the date -- 1996): "I've never
> seen a CD-ROM that moved me the way a powerful film has. I've never
> visited a Web page with great emotional impact. I contend that linear
> narrative is the fundamental art form of humankind: the novel, the play,
> the film... these are the forms that define our cultural experience."
> Comments?
> Yours,
> WM
> -- 
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
> Group, University of Western Sydney

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