(Apologies for the lateness between project sketches; I’ve been quite busy lately, though I will try to make these posts more regular.)
Every story has a protagonist, someone which the narrative follows for trials and tribulations. Some stories have more than one protagonist, deciding to split up the story into several groups of characters. Few stories, however, have no central protagonist or group of protagonists, at least outside of experimental literature. In the very least, it is something seldom seen.
Enter, Enchanted Assemblages and the complete and total lack of a main character or even a group of characters (for the introduction to Enchanted Assemblages and what it is all about, please see this post). So, why, you ask; a great question, let me prattle on.
In its very nature, Enchanted Assemblages is a creation meant to teach people about Le Morte Darthur. This means that player-readers of this text game are supposed to read their own copy of Malory’s grand old text while they engage with my project. Naturally, then, it is best to have a narrative running in parallel to Malory’s own; and since Malory’s text shifts its focus to a variety of characters depending on the emphasis of each book, it obviously didn’t make sense to try and shift the narratological weight onto a single protagonist when many different protagonists would match far better the collective nature of the Knights of the Roundtable.
Could I shift weight onto a single protagonist if I truly wanted to? Of course, I could; as I hoped to make plain, though, it would not have made much sense. But had I truly wanted to create a narrative which followed a single character, I could have. I could have strung together some feeble plot points or supposed technological mismash and established this idea of a grand single-player experience.
I want to get away from this idea of bourgeois individuation, though. I agree with certain radical narratologists and semioticians that the individualist narrative as it exists under capitalist culture has been taken as far as it can possibly be taken. There is little else to be done with a Hero’s Journey and the inner-depths of their mind and call to action. And truly, is this not proven? Have we not seen enough epic tales and personal tragedies to glean that what can be done has been done? How much more Coming of Age narratives or War Stories can possibly be told and remain captivating when everything from character motivation to happily-ever-after has been done ad nausea? Sure, there is still room for great stories about individuals and no one is saying cut the individual out completely, just let’s refocus things for a bit.
This is why a focus on the collective intrigues me. Because it gives us a new opportunity to tell new kinds of stories and how narrative can expand when it is given a lease to the multiplicity of life itself; overlapping, interpenetration, this is what fascinates me; this idea of many people working toward a common goal and watching that goal become realized through collective action.
This is why for Enchanted Assemblages, I will have at least a dozen protagonists. If not more. I will have to do the final tally and have the nuance of the project planned before I can finalize this number, but there will be collective action for sure and one which reflects the state of a classroom.
Look for character portraits of these protagonists in the coming months. Until then, friends, stay frosty.