The Weird Science of Post-Narrative

My life-long distrust of neatly organized narratives and an attending lack of interest in — and complete inability to construct — a “traditional” story, it seems to me on this beautiful October morning here in the Pacific Northwest, stems (I believe) from my own personal slipshod and haphazard manner of ingesting the relentless deluge of Pop Media that came at me from all sides during the entirety of my Nineteen-Eighties childhood.

To put it simply, the other day I realized that for a disproportionate number of the Eighties films I thought I knew through and through (Weird Science, Trading Places, Airplane, off the top of my head) I would discover upon re-watching them as an adult, that there were huge chunks of said films that I actually had not seen.  There are a number of suspect factors, and most are due to the impositions of a world outside the control of a child and the conditional format of real-time televised broadcasting.  Heavy editing for network television is high on the list, but mostly I believe it’s the jump in and out nature of Childhood Television Viewing in a world controlled for the most part by adults and peers in an era of unmediated media.   School is out, you get home, you do some chores (probably just feed the cat or let out the dog), you turn on the TV, the Karate Kid is on.  You’re not pressing play, there’s no download: whatever is happening in the film now is what you are seeing right now.  Anything can prevent you from watching the films penultimate showdown and ultimate conclusion: homework, a phonecall, a friend knocking at the door, dinner.  When you return to the television set, the film has long been over.  A complete childhood of this kind of fragmented viewing has molded and informed my own fractured sense of narrative, as well as the sense of overlapping and conflicting narratives arising from self-imposed interruptions  in the form of playing a Gameboy game while the television is on, flipping channels from Thundercats to G.I. Joe, or reading a comic featuring “Cap’n’Crunch” on a cereal box while eating cereal and paging through an X-Men comic and an issue of Nintendo Power while Scooby-Doo solves mysteries on the television set other room while a parent packs a lunch nearby whilst jamming out to WMMR’s “The Morning Zoo.”

In true to the essence of Post-Narrative and the discussion thereof,  this essay has no proper conclusion.

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3 thoughts on “The Weird Science of Post-Narrative

  1. That was great!

    It reminds me of when I was around 13 and it was the 1st time we were allowed a TV upstairs, so my parents could finally access their own downstairs TV! They put our new TV in the landing area upstairs (It was a squarish spacious landing) where we would play our Snes and NES; and they didn’t even hook up an aerial to it because they didn’t want us watching TV programs late at night.

    Anyway, one day I discovered that I could receive a scruffy signal if i tuned the TV. I daren’t tell anyone about this exciting discovery; especially my brother or sister; they would surely tell on me! So from then on, late at night when everyone was sleeping (around 11 pm), I would watch this awful reception TV. I had no idea what I was watching, never from the beginning of course, yet I didn’t care. I would watch these movies to the point my parents would finally yell “Go to bed!” from beneath the stairs. I found the whole experience exhilarating.

    When I came of the age to be allowed a TV in my bedroom I imagined I would now be able to have these experiences in the comfort of my room, every night, but it was to no avail. Maybe it was the rush of ‘breaking the rules’; or the feeling of power as I watched this public TV all to myself, or maybe the feeling of self rewarding success… I mean, even though I wished I could’ve watched from the beginning I knew it was not an option, but I beat it!… as I watched these movies half in, yet still picked up the plot and characters.

    Whatever it was, all I know is that I have never been able to capture these feelings again, and I do miss them.’

    • Have you ever gotten into the fairly fresh (and sorta loosely grouped and named) micro-genre Hypnagogic Pop? Oneohtrix Point Never, the music of James Ferraro, and Ducktails to a lesser extent are all good examples of music that tries to sort of sound like / replicate the half-remembered memories of fuzzy-reception 80s/90s distracted/absorbed TV viewing. Worth an investigation!

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