In the excerpt ‘What is Narrative’, Cambridge explores the concept of Narrative. He shines light on many different definitions of narrative and what elements specifically create a narrative. In the first paragraph Roland Barthes’s is quoted describing a narrative as part of life. He explains that narrative is embedded in every aspect of life from our languages, our movies, all the way to the painted glass that hangs in churches. I appreciate Barthes’s definition of narrative because I believe it is true. Everything that we do/create has a narrative behind it. For example, if I was observing a Family Reunion and I saw a women cross her arms across her chest when another family member walks over, I will wonder what the narrative is behind this gesture. Did she cross her arms because a simple reason? Maybe she was cold, if so that’s the narrative. There are alternative narratives that could come out of this simple arm movement, maybe her and that family member have a shady past. The possibilities are endless, and the overall point is that narrative is a part of all aspects life.
When I look at the concept of narrative in this manner, I feel extremely inspired to create new stories. I’m sitting in the library and everything makes me curious as to what the narrative behind it is. There is a narrative behind the building I’m sitting in. I wonder what it could possibly be. I could look it up, and figure it out or I could create my own narrative that would be much more fun, and entertaining. I think when any creator is lacking inspiration, if they take on this mind set they will quickly find themselves inspired with many new ideas.
The article goes on to discuss what is the purpose of narrative. They conclude that the most important reason we have narrative is to create an overall understanding of time. The organization of time started with the realization that there was day, night, seasons, and so on. The first humans of course did not have the version of time that we had, but they did have an understanding of time. When you’re trying to share a specific memory, you use time as a way to recreate this moment.
I have a close friend that is always telling me that they hate the concept of time, they believe it was man made and pointless. I’m always expressing to them that time is something we need in order to get anything done. For example, if we didn’t have a clock we could never have an organized class, we could attempt to but people would just come as they please, and overall it would just be a mess. After reading this article I realize that time is a necessity not only to plan accurately but to also remember correctly. When sharing a memory of mine the less details I include about time, the more ambiguous my narrative becomes. My audience needs time to make sense of my memory especially when I’m sharing the narrative verbally.
The article goes on to discuss narrative and perception; Brian De Palma is quoted saying ‘People don’t see the world before their eye’s until it’s put in a narrative mode.’ Basically what he is saying is that nothing in our life has meaning until we put it into narrative mode to make sense of it. A thought that came to my mind after reading this section is how you and another person can walk into a room and notice completely different things, and even totally miss things the other person saw. For example, if I walk into a room and I notice a vase of flowers, and my friend does not, that means they did not process the vase of flowers in narrative mode. This makes me think that as long as you consciously observe something it goes through the narrative mode. Even though I didn’t think about the flowers for long, I noticed them therefore I had to briefly make a narrative about them. That narrative may be as simple as, these people have flowers in their house, but it still is a narrative and could lead to many more with a touch of creativity.
Over all this article showed me that there is never a lack of inspiration for a narrative because as long as your mindful, narratives are floating all around you.