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risking indifference

Anne Dalke's picture

So I'm continuing to mull over the implications of our story slam--whether telling individual stories invites investment in difference, or bridging towards sameness, whether it encourages investment in the stories we know, or an invitation to revise those stories....?

In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud explains the power of the cartoon in part as a power of identification; when readers see a detailed face that looks like a real person, they are more likely to perceive them as a separate and specific character, whereas a simple, cartoon-like face is more universal and easier to identify with.

McCloud also argues that as images get simpler and simpler (more and more cartoon-like), they require more attention and imagination to be understood, like words. Conversely, when words are simpler and more direct, they don’t need as much attention and are more easily understood, making them more like pictures.

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So--thinking analogously here--when we tell detailed stories about ourselves, demonstrating our distinctiveness, are we inviting others in, or shutting them out? I was thinking about these questions in particular because of Jessica's saying that she “wants to talk to people who make assumptions about us,” and to learn more about the ways in which such assumptions about identity can either open up and shut down possibility.

I’ve shared with you before some of the things I’ve been learning in the independent study I’ve been conducting, this semester, with Sam Terry, on "The Language and Literature of Trauma.” Here’s a bit from Sam’s most recent paper, on rejecting “the personal is political” as a "bad bourgeois strategy....confession and testimony are not artistic, let alone strategic, but rather indolent. Indolent, I think, because all is known....Might it be useful to think of narratives as a strategy? And, more: as a strategic risk...when those already assumed to be fully known—or fully knowable—risk further indifference"?