Chance Encounter Blog

unreliable narrators

finishing up svevo's 'senilita' last week, i read the introduction (i always read the intro after i read the book, if at all), which talked at length about the rise of the unreliable narrator in modernist fiction. books in the first person are easiest to talk about this way. is the narrator ("I") actually the author (probably not). is s/he 'reliable'? (in other words, is s/he giving us an 'accurate' picture or portayal of what happened, and what does that mean anyway??) and of course the author can play god, design a narrator who is unreliable in wonderfully inventive ways. svevo's book is in the third person, however - and one wonders throughout how reliable the hidden narrator is. we are also certain that, in the passages where he is (presumably faithfully) describing things from the point of view of one of the characters, these characters also have a pretty warped picture of what's going on in their relations with one another.

by collecting many utterances from people in public spaces and lifting them out of context, i am most certainly enhancing the unreliability of their 'narration' within my new context. then i am also combining them into new quasi-narratives (like the aimlessness song) i am, i suppose, creating new narrators. composite narrators that are also not me. and who is to say whether or not they are reliable?

then they will be sung (overheard again!) in public spaces, by susan, who will bring her own interpretation, in a dramaturgical sense, to these fabricated characters.

i'm thinking about this a lot because i am having a lot of great discussions about whether or not music can have an unreliable narrator. above i outline only the textual aspects of unreliability in my project. but what about the music? can i - should i - be writing unreliable music for this piece? what would that be??