Narrative Madness: Endorsements by Michael Krasny, Geoffrey Green and Robert Alter

You’re crazy! By that, I mean you cannot easily distinguish fiction from reality, and you let delusions brought on by narrative influence your perception and behavior. Like Don Quixote, you wander lost through clouds of story. Your madness, however, does not actually separate you from the world; rather, it connects you because narrative language is the principle means by which humans understand and reshape ourselves and our world.

Ronald B. Richardson, aka Ronosaurus Rex, has published a new book, edited by Katie Fox, which is available at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon. He has also had an excerpt called “Narrative is Memory, Memory is Narrative” published in the post-beat pre-apocalypic Sensitive Skin Magazine.

“Although I hesitate to use the word, it is, on the whole, a brilliant work,” said Dr. Michael Krasny, host of Forum on KQED and Dr. Geoffrey Green, Executive Editor of Critique, wrote, “Thoroughly innovative . . . insightful, provocative, and, in the best sense of the word, scholarly.”

“The writing is lively and at times quite amusing–a blessed relief from dreary academic prose,” wrote Dr. Robert Alter, author of Partial Magic: The Novel as Self-Conscious Genre, “The fundamental argument that Don Quixote is no madder than the rest of us but rather an exemplar of our condition as language-using, storytelling creatures is quite persuasive.”

Narrative Madness: Endorsements by Michael Krasny, Geoffrey Green and Robert Alter

You’re crazy! By that, I mean you cannot easily distinguish fiction from reality, and you let delusions brought on by narrative influence your perception and behavior. Like Don Quixote, you wander lost through clouds of story. Your madness, however, does not actually separate you from the world; rather, it connects you because narrative language is the principle means by which humans understand and reshape ourselves and our world.

Ronald B. Richardson, aka Ronosaurus Rex, has published a new book, which is available at narrativemadness.com or on Amazon. He has also had an excerpt called “Narrative is Memory, Memory is Narrative” published in the post-beat pre-apocalypic Sensitive Skin Magazine.

“Although I hesitate to use the word, it is, on the whole, a brilliant work,” said Dr. Michael Krasny, host of Forum on KQED and Dr. Geoffrey Green, Executive Editor of Critique, wrote, “Thoroughly innovative . . . insightful, provocative, and, in the best sense of the word, scholarly.”

“The writing is lively and at times quite amusing–a blessed relief from dreary academic prose,” wrote Dr. Robert Alter, author of Partial Magic: The Novel as Self-Conscious Genre, “The fundamental argument that Don Quixote is no madder than the rest of us but rather an exemplar of our condition as language-using, storytelling creatures is quite persuasive.”

The Magic Word: Words Have Power

“Words are not magical,” one professor said, waving her hand to indicate the empty space in the center of the ring of chairs. “When I say ‘table,’ no table appears.”

In her attempts to steer us away from the metaphysical and romantic views of language and ground literary theory and discussion in the relatively more scientific and pragmatic language of structuralism, she inadvertently convinced me that words were magical. For a table did appear.

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To Understand, We Must Produce Narrative

Like language, narrative refers to concept rather than reality. The structuralist description of the sign can be extended to narrative, since both words and stories are symbols played out across time. A word occurs as a sequence, as when we say or read “T – U – N – D – R – A.” Similarly, a narrative may be defined as signs in a series. The story then can be considered a sign itself, an arbitrary signifier, referring not to events in the real world, but to a subjective concept of what happened, is happening and will happen.

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Extending the Linguistic “Concept” to Include “Narrative Function”

At the beginning of the last century, Ferdinand de Saussure severed language from reality. In his Course in General Linguistics, he explained that a sign is made up of two parts: the signifier and the signified. The signifier is a word, a set of sounds, sometimes represented by letters. The signified is what the signifier arbitrarily refers to. Unfortunately for those who want language to be a transparent window on the world, the signified is not an external object, but a subjective concept.

A sidewalk (another word for ground) is not a thing, but an idea. After all, we do not experience the rough pavement as a snail or a starling might, who cannot know that the sidewalk is for walking. How could they when they lack the word?

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Why Meta Matters

Metafiction is the narrative quest for narrative, an attempt through stories to understand what stories are.

Why do stories matter? Because we are stories.

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I am the One the Writer of This Sentence is Referring to

Who is I? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “I” is “used by the speaker or writer to refer to himself or herself.” Simple enough, but let’s think this out. The dictionary says that “I” is “used by the speaker or writer,” implying that “I” and “the speaker or writer” are not the same. How can this be? Well, one is a word and the other is a person. That “I” appears in the dictionary proves that “I” is a written or spoken symbol. Okay, so? The problem is that we confuse ourselves with that symbol. I think I am the “I.”

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The Truthiness of Apples in a Basket

Absolute truth: My dad wrote in response to my blog, “There are countless absolute truths. Example: Two apples added to a basket containing two apples will make a total of four apples in the basket.” I agree absolutely. I believe in baskets and apples. I believe in reality. (What a ridiculous statement!)

Subjective truth: Let me take out the “I believe–” and say, “Reality exists.” (Was I able to remove the “I believe–“? I wrote the statement “Reality exists,” so it must be what I believe. Strangely enough the existence of reality has been in question for quite some time, maybe even some of you readers doubt reality.)

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