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Metanovel

Just one new graphic today, the others are recycled. The new one is a 12 Meg movie of Times Square which is, in some sense, like a metanovel, the theme for today. Click on this link to see the Times Square movie.

Thinking about the postsingular world, the thing that interests me most is the new or enhanced media or artforms that will arise. Think of metaopera, metasymphony, metanovel, metapainting, metamovies.

As analogy, I think of how the Northwest Native American art changed when they got hold of axes. Until then, their totems had been pocket-sized, carved of black stone. Once they had the axe, they set to work carving whole trees into piles of totems. (But fifty years later their culture was gone. A brief window.)

I see going back to a metanovel over and over, layering on detail, just as I do now in my novels. But it would be more like a movie.

My character Thuy Nguyen wants to be a metanovelist, that is, a director/novelist/composer, orphidnet style, with scenarios and words enhanced by images and sounds.

Thuy gets people to make suggestions for her metanovel — palindromically called Metotem (= totem of me, with the word “meta” suggested as well) — like I do by petitioning my blog readers for suggestions about what to put in Postsingular. She has some other metanovelist friends.

“Wheenk wheenk wheenk” was a term Thuy used to describe metanovels in which the characters spent, in Thuy’s opinion, too much time bitching and moaning, and not enough time doing and loving, Thuy sometimes imitating certain passages with quick, elegant notes on her violin.

[Excerpt from Postsingular draft of Chapter One]

Passing Hogtied Metabooks — which was a hang-out for the Mission metanovelists — Jayjay saw the bobbed-hair proprietress Darlene slumped in an easy chair she’d dragged out front. Her store had a lot of comfortable chairs, also some shelves of beat-up paper books. People did still buy books, even though you could read them on the orphidnet. You might think the rez was too low, at one orphid per linear millimeter, but each page-sitting orphid knew which letters it was near, and it passed this info into the net. Strictly speaking, you could publish a book by printing one copy and letting the orphids settle onto it. For that matter, you could publish a book by thoroughly imagining it — like the metanovelists did. Even so, there was something pleasant about the paper physicality of an old-style book, and they still sold in small numbers. Not that Jayjay owned any.

“How’s the metanovel, Thuy?” asked Darlene, her long jeans-clad legs sticking into the sidewalk, her booted feet crossed like a cowboy’s. “Still wrasslin’ it?” Darlene, who was a metanovelist too, made he living not so much by selling books as by brokering access to metanovels. Most metanovelists stored their works in secure form within the orphids on their own bodies. Your personal orphids tended to be generous about giving you memory space.

“Oh yeah,” said Thuy. “And you’re in it.” She gestured at the shelves in Darlene’s store. “Here’s an idea. Maybe I should put all your books into Metotem, too. Every word, every page, all visible in one synoptic glance.”

“Synoptic,” said Darlene, who was quite the heavy kiqqie. “Brilliant word. My shelves hold the synoptic gospels of our literary heritage; you read them side by side to see the face of the Holy Hive Mind in her presingular state. But you’ve got to be kidding about including all that data. Just do a link. If put too much into a metanovel, it gets as dull as a nearly empty file. Everything and Nothing are dual, you wave? Aim your frame.” Peering from beneath her dark bangs, Darlene held up her hands, regarding the four of them through the rectangle of her thumbs and fingers. “What’s with the Stank ad following you mangy kiqs?”

“We’re extras on the Founders show,” said Jayjay, miming himself soaping an underarm. “On the payroll. I Stank purty.”

“How was Gerry Gurkin last night?” Thuy asked Darlene. Gurkin was a fellow metanovelist who was hyping his new work Apoplexy. He’d just done a presentation at Hogtied Books. Metanovelists presented their works at Hogtied by handing out short-term read-only access permissions and giving the audience a guided tour, the hope being that people would pay for longer-term access.

“Underwhelming,” said Darlene. “These Dick Too Dibbs ads kept popping up. Poor Gerry. Not that his gig would have been much better without the interruptions. Apoplexy is an exabyte of data, yes, but it’s only some guy’s memory records. No plot, and no real characters besides Gerry Gurken. Apoplexy shows us a kiqqie who walks around all day saying he’s a metanovelist. But we’ve already got reality soaps and metablogs for that. The metanovel can be so much more.”

“It needs action trajectories, don’t you think?” said Thuy. “A bunch of archetypal plots.”

“But it has to be real,” said Darlene.

“I want to be an alchemist,” said Thuy. “Transmuting my life into myth and fable.”

Metanovelists’ bull sessions could go on for hours. Jayjay privately wondered how much work Thuy had actually done. She kept all her notes and drafts under secure protection, and had never shared them with him.

One Response to “Metanovel”

  1. Katharina von Klenck Says:

    hello rudy,
    by googleling my last name, i found your blog. very astonished about your familytree,i compared it to mine, finding out that louise von bitter was the sister of my grandfather ditmar von klenck. his son franz is my father.
    so somehow we have to have the same blood!;-)

    warm greetings from bavaria
    Katharina


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