User Tag List

12 Last

Results 1 to 10 of 14

  1. #1
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    MBTI
    IsFJ
    Posts
    3,088

    Default Literature and Resolution

    This afternoon, I had a college class - the kind where we present and discuss texts, that sort of thing. Today, the subject was an essay by Umberto Eco, which has made me wonder some things...

    The "popular novel", according to Eco, has an archetypal "skeleton": a sympathetic protagonist, alternating moments of happiness and unhappiness and the resolution at the moment of most tension, also described as "catharsis". The emotions we felt were "planned" by the script, and we followed suit.

    As such, a "popular novel" is one that offers an answer after offering a problem, thus meeting and satisfying the reader's expectations; in other words, it's a matter of finding comfort in the familiar, in the clichés, in the deus ex machina that resolves the plot without "leaving us hanging". The resolution often happens in a "good vs. evil, with good prevailing" theme, "good" standing for the cultural values represented by the protagonist. In short, it's a work that offers no surprises - save for those we were waiting for - and simply tries to trigger "safe" emotional reactions out of us.

    The "problematic novel", on the other hand, offers no definitive resolution, leaving the text open-ended; the reader/viewer has to grapple hirself with the ambiguity and lack of resolution, being asked questions without being supplied answers. Among examples of this kind of fiction in film, we suggested (in class, I mean) movies like Black Swan, Inception, Requiem for a Dream and Equus. Heck, even Be Kind Rewind was used as an example of a story that not only has no resolution, but no denouement as well.

    What do you think of this classification? Is it accurate, in your opinion? Is it really a matter of not being able to deal with uncertainty and incompleteness? Does that make one kind better than another?

    ...Also, does preferring the first kind of fiction say anything about your intelligence, your gullibility, your willful ignorance, etc.? Does having the expected emotional reactions make you a sucker?
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

  2. #2
    Permabanned
    Join Date
    May 2009
    MBTI
    ISFP
    Enneagram
    6w7 sx
    Socionics
    SEE Fi
    Posts
    25,301

    Default

    Yes, like L'Etranger by Albert Camus is a "problematic novel" and The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler is a popular novel, that leans toward a problematic novel. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie is a truly popular novel, despite it's disturbing themes.

    "Popular novel" doesn't mean "bad" but yes they are formulaic. Same for movies. There are movies have the whole twelve step blah blah blah I learned in Intro to Film that are good movies, like say True Grit but a movie like 4 stays with you longer and invites you to watch it again.

    And no, I don't think it has anything to do with intelligence. Some very intelligent, good plots are rather "popular" in their skeleton.

    However, I think the inability to enjoy "problematic novels" or films means that you lack a certain openness, and other personality traits certainly. It doesn't mean you aren't smart, though.

  3. #3
    Permabanned
    Join Date
    May 2009
    MBTI
    ISFP
    Enneagram
    6w7 sx
    Socionics
    SEE Fi
    Posts
    25,301

    Default

    Oh another thing, too - sometimes "problematic novels" and films are emotionally exhausting, and I think they can make people depressed, or leave them in some kind of hypothetical existential crisis.

    I actually, as someone who majored in literature, don't think it's healthy for some types of people to read "problematic novels" all of the time, or watch those sorts of films. It can be very draining, and sometimes I think it's healthier to do "light reading."

  4. #4
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    MBTI
    IsFJ
    Posts
    3,088

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marmie Dearest View Post
    Oh another thing, too - sometimes "problematic novels" and films are emotionally exhausting, and I think they can make people depressed, or leave them in some kind of hypothetical existential crisis.

    I actually, as someone who majored in literature, don't think it's healthy for some types of people to read "problematic novels" all of the time, or watch those sorts of films. It can be very draining, and sometimes I think it's healthier to do "light reading."
    I admit I'm sometimes afraid of being deeply disturbed or scarred by things... ^_^''

    And I get what you mean about depressing movies... It must be hell to watch The Hours when you're feeling really depressed.

    I also admit that I kind of seek satisfaction and closure in media... Plus, I sometimes feel kind of frightened of heavier material, thinking I simply won't get it, yanno?


    OK, to avoid turning this thread into "Vi's Neuroses, Part #146", serious question: do you think "problematic lit" could become more commonplace than "popular lit"? And would that be a good thing?
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

  5. #5
    Permabanned
    Join Date
    May 2009
    MBTI
    ISFP
    Enneagram
    6w7 sx
    Socionics
    SEE Fi
    Posts
    25,301

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    I admit I'm sometimes afraid of being deeply disturbed or scarred by things... ^_^''

    And I get what you mean about depressing movies... It must be hell to watch The Hours when you're feeling really depressed.

    I also admit that I kind of seek satisfaction and closure in media... Plus, I sometimes feel kind of frightened of heavier material, thinking I simply won't get it, yanno?


    OK, to avoid turning this thread into "Vi's Neuroses, Part #146", serious question: do you think "problematic lit" could become more commonplace than "popular lit"? And would that be a good thing?
    No it will never become as commonplace as popular literature, because people need closure and tend to want resolution, even a happy ending in some cases.

    I'm not scared of being scarred for anything for life. I can watch The Exorcist on repeat and I've seen Martyrs.

    I fear nothing. I would even watch A Serbian Film. Maybe.

    Problematic literature is very draining, though. I don't know if it's easier for T types with more distance from what they're reading, or maybe even "fun" for N types, but I can tell you that I have a saturation point "problematic novels" where I'm just saying no. It's ridiculously draining and pointless, in my opinion, to do that to yourself.

    I don't even necessarily believe that NT types can always handle it. I have an INTP friend who has a Ph.D. in Philosophy who thought about shit so much he was the most depressed, inert intelligent person I believe I've ever encountered. Fuck that shit. I've also known so many people to become depressed or suicidal in grad school.

    Problematic literature is not philosophy, and it is not politics, but it is always "heavy" and usually filled with negative emotions and forces you to think about things like death, and not in an interesting way, like "I'm alive and killing my enemy."

    Life's too short to fill your head constantly with Debbie Downer bullshit.

  6. #6
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    MBTI
    INtp
    Enneagram
    5w6 sp/so
    Socionics
    LII Ne
    Posts
    5,091

    Default

    I prefer the former. I hate having loose ends that don't get resolved at the end even though I know very well real life doesn't always work that way! The ending doesn't always have to be a happy one but it has to make sense and not leave us hanging. I hope that doesn't make me less intelligent.
    INtp
    5w6 or 9w1 sp/so/sx, I think
    Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff
    Neutral Good
    LII-Ne




  7. #7
    . Blank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    MBTI
    INTP
    Enneagram
    5w6
    Posts
    1,202

    Default

    I'm glad you're thinking about this topic, as it's one that greatly interests me. What makes us tick? What's the common denominator between everything? Well, for stories, there needs to be a protagonist, and there needs to be conflict. Often, the conflict in the script is externalized and thus we have an antagonist. Most typical "good stories" tend to tie the protagonist's internal struggle with external forces. A shy kid is being picked on at school by a bully? By standing up to the bully who is causing problems (exterior) s/he also becomes more outspoken and assertive (interior.)

    A great story can be linear, it can be non-linear, it can have an antagonist, it doesn't have to have an antagonist. But first, it must be relateable in some way, even if the main character is a monster (literally or figuratively.) Hell, even if the main character can't be related to, there can still be a great story if it is able to illuminate an aspect of our thoughts or lives (American Psycho is a good example, I think.)

    I tend to disfavour linear stories which lack internal-external character development. One example of this I can think of would be a typical classical Disney film like Snow White, where the characters do not grow and are saved by some kind of Deus Ex Machina in the end. This is not to say that I dislike linear stories by any means.

    Consider the following movies (apologies if you haven't seen one or more)

    The Dark Knight - Shows an AMAZING dichotomy of right/wrong, love/duty throughout the film.
    Pulp Fiction - Extremely non-linear but comes together to form an interesting narrative; has more than one main protagonist.
    Fight Club - Does a great job of showing how internal and external struggles can be one in the same.
    American Psycho - A chilling and thrilling glimpse on what it could be like to lose touch with one's humanity and sanity. Has a very strong anti-hero.
    The Weather Man - A story about an average guy trying to get his shit together. Does a nice job of connecting internal-external conflict within the character, although some things aren't resolved perfectly imo.
    The Good Girl - A story about a woman who is unhappy with her current life. The main character is very relateable and her experiences seem very authentic.
    LotR Trilogy - On the surface very linear, very predictable, but it does a good job of showing how important it is to rely on others. What's nice about it is that it does a subtle job of transforming Frodo's external conflict into a very serious inner one which effects the people around him.
    Battle Royale - Very poorly set up and poorly explained and filled with seemingly-gratuitous violence. However, I think it does well at showing a common element of humanity between people and how many are likely to act in a time of crisis.

    Etc.

    As one who's been interested in story-telling for a long time, I have gotten pretty tired of the formulaic structuring of a story, so when I find one that breaks the mold and is done well, I get really excited by it. One thing that annoys the hell out of me is the arbitrary "Hollywood Ending," where things have to work out perfectly and everyone goes home happy when it significantly weakens the catharsis of the story by making it so. Rambo: First Blood is a good example, I think when one compares the ending of the book to the movie and the overall arc of the main character.
    Ti = 19 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Te = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ne = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fi = 15 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Si = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ni = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

    -----------------
    Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why;
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand

  8. #8
    Senior Member lauranna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    MBTI
    ISTP
    Enneagram
    9w8 sx/sp
    Posts
    747

    Default

    I read both types of novel but prefer the problematic/literary type of novel.
    Agree with @marmie_Dearest that it is hard to just read that kind of novel though. Sometimes light easy reading where you don't have to think too much is where it is at. Where the story does the work for you. If I want that I read crime/detective fiction.

    Love a good literary novel though. 'The Hours' by Michael Cunningham is one of my favourites. It is so cleverly done and makes you think so much about life and death. Not just the characters, but also your own. The film is good too, but there is so much the books conveys that the film version never can.

    Also read "Never Let Me Go" recently by Kazuo Ishiguro. Another highly thought provoking story. It did leave me with a kind of dull emptiness at the end though. Marmie is right, you could get depressed reading too much of these.

    If anyone wants to recommend anything heavy and thought provoking, I could do with a new story that will affect my life!

  9. #9
    Senior Member lauranna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    MBTI
    ISTP
    Enneagram
    9w8 sx/sp
    Posts
    747

    Default

    I meant @Marmie Dearest

  10. #10
    Senior Member Viridian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    MBTI
    IsFJ
    Posts
    3,088

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lauranna View Post
    Love a good literary novel though. 'The Hours' by Michael Cunningham is one of my favourites. It is so cleverly done and makes you think so much about life and death. Not just the characters, but also your own. The film is good too, but there is so much the books conveys that the film version never can.

    Also read "Never Let Me Go" recently by Kazuo Ishiguro. Another highly thought provoking story. It did leave me with a kind of dull emptiness at the end though. Marmie is right, you could get depressed reading too much of these.
    Funny you mentioned The Hours - I was thinking of the movie the other day and how it fit Eco's "problematic" criteria pretty well! (Never read the book, though...)

    Ishiguro's novel is also a good example, although the feeling I was left with was less "depressed" and more like "...did this novel had a point?". I think it was sort of a cautionary tale, but...
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

Similar Threads

  1. The Banned and The Damned
    By Haight in forum Official Decrees
    Replies: 331
    Last Post: 11-30-2017, 07:12 PM
  2. [SJ] SJs and Literature
    By Will2911 in forum The SJ Guardhouse (ESFJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ISTJ)
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 11-25-2015, 08:56 PM
  3. MBTI with more axis and higher resolution?
    By labyrinthine in forum Myers-Briggs and Jungian Cognitive Functions
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 08-25-2015, 02:53 PM
  4. Development and resolution of the dominant function
    By sculpting in forum Myers-Briggs and Jungian Cognitive Functions
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 01-14-2012, 05:16 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO