Truth and multiple narratives

I’ve hardly ever seen a film that has complete balance within it. There are exceptions like Rashomon by Kurosawa.

Werner Herzog


Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon:

Werner Herzog’s description of Rashomon as film of complete balance and justice implies a multiple perspective method of coming to the truth. The concept is touched upon in David Shields’s Reality hunger where in 213 he quotes Bonnie Rough :

In all the reconstructive or restorative arts … people make the best educated guess as to what “really” happened … A police sketch of a suspected criminal is routinely derived from the imaginations of several witnesses.

This, however, is an argument for the imagination of the professional, whether archaeologist or narrative nonfiction author. The audience is given the adjusted version of the narrative based on a careful arrangement of the evidence. Rashomon leaves this to the audience. It is for the audience to determine for themselves the “true” narrative or to experience Keats’s negative capability (allow themselves to remain with doubt).

Multiple perspectives gives an opportunity to examine nonfiction and the art of the narrative. Naturally, with interactive and computational media there are many interesting ways of exploring this. I’ve been looking at Nick Montfort’s Curveship: an interactive fiction and interactive narrative system. The Curveship website states:

Curveship can tell events out of order, using flashback and other techniques, and can tell the story from the standpoint of particular characters and their perceptions and understandings.

You can read/write a narrative from different characters points-of-view, with different emotions and in completely different orders. Curveship is very interesting to play with and it lends itself to writing up an actual event from different people’s perspectives. It is definitely something I intend to experiment with.

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