Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Elegance of Post-Modernism Storytelling; or, HOLY CRAP I'M ACTUALLY LEARNING THIS SEMESTER

Last night, WH and I sat down, turned off our mutual internets and watched INCEPTION. This was a big deal for us. Normally, no matter WHAT we're watching, we're both clicking away, him in a game and me on Twitter. But we had both heard so much about INCEPTION, and we were in a snuggly mood thanks to the rainy weather, so we decided to devote our full attention to a movie for once. And I'm so glad we did.

In my English class this semester, we just started learning about Post-Modernism, and I have to admit that at first I wasn't interested in learning about it. In case you're not familiar, the Modernist movement was what most of us are familiar with when we think of story-telling: neat tales that wrap up in tidy little packages, and follow a steady plot line. Post-Modernism is sort of the opposite; where Modernism is neat and tidy, Post-Modernism is chaos.

But the more my professor explained the differences between the two, the more I began to feel like donning a beret and some suspenders, and maybe even sipping an espresso with my pinkie up.

Don't get me wrong-- I'm a HUGE fan of Modernist story-telling. I love me some neat plot-lines and happy-ever-afters. But there's something so . . . appealing about Post-Modernism, too. Something raw. Something animal, that invites us think for ourselves. Normally, I don't like it when the neat lines aren't drawn for me. I don't like having to work out if something did or did not happen within the context of a story that I did not write. But my appreciation has been piqued by our in-class viewing of THE THIN BLUE LINE, a documentary that was filmed by accident and literally saved a man's life, and ever since then I've been finding Post-Modernist tidbits everywhere.

Perhaps this is just like the week I discovered that people in Britain pronounce "aluminum" differently, and therefore started hearing people with British accents saying "al-you-min-ee-um" all the time. Or perhaps it's just my mind expanding with learning. The world may never know. But my appreciation remains. And I find it fascinating that I discovered I've actually been a fan all along: Christopher Nolan, who wrote and directed INCEPTION, also directed THE PRESTIGE, which is one of my absolute all-time favorite movies (of all time), as well as MEMENTO.

There goes my neat and tidy story. But real life isn't neat and tidy, and I think that's what I appreciate about it so much.

I've come to realize that I wholeheartedly love this method of storytelling because the story winds up being so powerful. So what if there's too much detail? Who cares if the plot is hard to follow at times? The overall emotional connection you have with the story is there, and it grabs you.

It grabs me.

Someday, whether linear or chaotic, I hope to write a novel as brilliantly, darkly twisted and beautiful as those movies. One that brings readers to their emotional knees and stays with them long after they close the cover on the last page.


  1. Inception was amazing.I especially loved how the ending was open to interpretation.

  2. I haven't seen Inception yet but I plan on it at some point. Though, post-modernism stories tend to annoy unless they are told really well and don't leave you thinking "what the heck just happened?" I have heard that Inception is one of those movies. Those stories tend to make me more confused and frustrated than thoughtful and enlightened. But, again, I haven't seen it yet so we shall see. I still love me a feel-good, predictable movie any day :).

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  4. Hazzah for barets! I haven't studdied Post Modernism very extensively but I love the idea of it. Sometimes I think I'm OCD in reverse. I see something all neat and tidy and I just want to tilt it a little here and maybe stir it up a little there to throw it off balance