Plot and plot: the author as conspirator

Plot and plot: the author as conspiratorBy Raoulrodriguezferrandez*

We talk about the plot of a novel or movie (e.g., Your Face Tomorrow by Javier Marías or With Death on His Heels by Hitchcock) and we talk about plots like the Ides of March, the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot, or Gurtel. Are. ,

In the same way that the narrator plots his narratives, arranging the characters, time, places and relationships between them in a sequential manner from end to end (that is, the narrator does not wait for events to happen as we poor people do in our lives. does, but it provokes them because it has already planned the outcome), this is what happens with conspiracy theories, which elevate the story to a plot: in both cases an omnipotent entity pulls the strings, While we, the people and the characters, are clumsy puppets at its command. Pity, except for being deluded into believing that we are powered by an actual engine that we fuel with our own gasoline.

Film poster for North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock, 1959.

However, this relationship is not symmetric: it is less difficult for us to conceive of conspiracies as stories (and many have become stories: from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to Umberto Eco’s Prague Cemetery) than it is to conceive of stories as conspiracies. In. But this figure of the conspirator as the great storyteller is equally valid for all the powerful people in the shadows (be they proven conspiracies or delusional conspiracies) who are behind assassinations, attacks, election results, epidemics, wars, economic crises, etc. Are. (Masons, Jesuits, witches, Jacobins, Jews, Islamists, Illuminati, Bilderberg Club, US federal government, NASA, aliens, United Nations, Rockefellers, Bill Gates, George Soros, WHO, pharmaceutical companies) even as far back as Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Proust , as the author of the stories of Pérez Galdós, Clarín, Cortázar or Javier Marías, it is a matter of handling at will Emma, ​​Raskolnikov, Marcel, Gabriel de Araceli, Ana Ozores or Jaime Deza.

“Même” that plays with the central panel of the triptych of St. Columba, by Rogier van der Weyden

What has been said, of course, also applies to stories of belief: whoever is in conflict with Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite or Athena (conspirators in conflict, with such stories) may have settled on Olympus. As much as he believed in Jehovah, God or Allah (each an absolute autocrat in his narrative universe, though confronting the other in transcendental geopolitics) he also resigned himself to being part of a script that Doesn’t depend on that.

Scenes from the Titanic (James Cameron, 1997).

This conspiracy (breathing very close together, breaking a pinion, in collusion against a third party) has a source of inspiration (the breath that is blown into your ear), of termination (the story out through the mouth. comes) and of the ending (you have to kill someone to advance the plot and provoke terror and pity) is almost natural, and not just because of shared etymology. God inspired the evangelicals, which was like instructing them in the various machinations of a wise storyteller: giving almost unlimited freedom to Adam and Eve, but imposing an absurd restriction on them, which he knew they would humanly ignore. Will, pampering Abel to provoke his brother’s jealousy, praising Abraham’s faith that forced him to commit a radical infanticide (which he easily stopped after a desperate crisis), and Sacrificed his own son for a greater cause and then initiated a deus ex machina on the third day.

There is a painting that summarizes this whole capital episode of the astronomical plot: it is the central panel of the Triptych of St. Columba by Rogier van der Weyden, which is in Munich: it is an Adoration of the Kings in which, the central pillar of the portal of Bethlehem Where the Virgin and Child are, we see a crucifix hanging, as if acting as a spoiler for the characters. We already know how that story will end, but we don’t know how our story will end: so, in a way, every story is a source of comfort and envy in equal parts.

frozen life, hot story

Walter Benjamin expressed this with great foresight: He said that the novel matters to us not because it represents an alien and didactic destiny, that is, because it is a pedagogy of exemplary living or counter-examples to be avoided, but because That narrative plots in those fires where they are consumed are the certainty of a destiny in other people’s lives, and we the readers, deprived of a certain one, warm our frozen lives at its side. In stories, life has a purpose, a sensible ending, while the life we ​​live is subject to the icy winds of chance, clumsiness and misunderstandings, with an ending as uncertain as it is certain. Is. Our lives are surrogates for the story’s characters, the warm womb where we find the solace of a higher plan that orders them, an ending that is written and known to someone.

For her part, Hannah Arendt tried to find a compromise between her own life and the narrative function of others: to tell us about our lives. He points out that every narrative appears to deceptively simulate the unpredictability, fragility, and contingency of human existence. This is true, but if we do not turn our story into a story, there is neither understanding nor acceptance: one’s Let your sorrows, but also those that are uttered, find an intelligible and bearable channel only when they are narrated and because they are narrated. The earthly “Judgment Day” (different from and better than the Teeth) comes to every person when he discovers this little truth in the stories and when he is able to weave the narrative thread of his life, even if, of course, , it has no consequences…

account of the story

But there are stories and stories. What danger is any storyteller in danger of? What did William Labov call it? So what about the skill that eludes him? He called this narrativity, which is not the same as descriptiveness. “Descriptiveness” is what makes a story a story. But the ability to tell, which cannot be translated (because if we say “accountability” we must specify the account of the story, not the account), is what makes some stories worth telling. Because there is something inherent in them: that makes us ask ourselves: What else?, as the Sultan did with Scheherazade: Some stories save lives.

This accounting seems to have some universal elements, although it is adapted to different latitudes. Labov tells the anecdote about a French best-selling recipe: A good story must have mystery, sex, aristocracy, and religion. So this all suggests something like this beginning: “Oh my God, said the Marchioness, I’m pregnant, who will be the father?” Think of Dangerous Liaisons, but if we replace the aristocracy with the rich bourgeoisie, the soap operas, Buñuel as well as Berlanga and Almodóvar, Mamma Mia and the Pink and Black Chronicle (last summer we had samples of both ) there is room for. Heart program.

There are stories that generate better noise than others because they offer a variety of alternative pathways into the mind of the recipient (as in Borges’s famous story In the Garden). The story chooses one of them, but that doesn’t stop the reader or viewer from placing their own bets. The inevitability of an outcome is what gives the story its strength, its irreversible nature, but it does not prevent, rather almost propels the recipient’s imagination toward other anticipated scenarios. The narrative finale decided by others may surprise us or meet our expectations, it may disappoint us because we expected something else or precisely because we saw so much coming. But we can’t do anything about it. or if?

Recipient as creator

When Titanic was released, millions of viewers were devastated by the image of Jack drowning in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, while Rose bid farewell to the floating wreck, from which she managed to save herself. Well, some of them did not give up. A few years ago a special producer took pictures from other films starring Leonardo DiCaprio (The Beach, The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can, Inception or Shutter Island), Kate Winslet (Sense and Sensibility, Wonder Wheel, Divergent) or both . (Revolutionary Road), even others where a shipwreck was mentioned (an episode of the series Downton Abbey) or a ship amid the polar ice (The Terror). With them he composed several shorts and trailers with alternative endings for non-existent films, incorporating voice-overs or subtitles that weave new narrative threads. In one, it was revealed that Jack arrived exhausted on an island. Rose rebuilds her life (as happens in Cast Away with Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt), but Jack decides to seek her out and they live together and become happy, parents of several children. Or Jack died, but the remains of the Titanic allowed him to recover his DNA in 2053, clone him into a new existence while retaining his memories, and accelerate his evolution until He couldn’t meet Rose’s great-granddaughter Ivy (played, of course, by Kate Winslet). ), who in turn is the brilliant scientist on the project. That amateur storyteller on YouTube, VJ4rawr2, is certainly a great conspiracist.

When history is incomplete we want more, and when it has already closed we want the power to prolong it: we do not accept being limited to the sphere of imagination, which is by nature unlimited, an expanding universe. Looks like. That the ending of the story does not satisfy us, and that this dissatisfaction is the fuel that ignites the spark of others, sometimes sharp and sometimes mad, sometimes nourishing and sometimes consoling, means only that the story is full of joy and anxiety. There is an inexhaustible source.

*Raúl Rodríguez Ferrández is Professor of Semiotics of Mass Communication at the University of Alicante.

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