Klein’s essay is a theoretical exploration of the current forms of database novels. While comparing previous modes of storytelling with contemporary interface based narratives, he hopes to find the most suitable form of narrative organization for the interactive novels to come.
Basing his methods in social-political analysis of the issues regarding cross-culturalism and globalization, he examines the ways in which the traditional form of storytelling changed its relationship towards the audience, throughout history, as a consequence of the development of mass media technologies. He states that the “infrastructure for public culture in cities is vanishing rather quickly, particularly bookstores and live theatre”. According to him, this is not just a “gloomy prediction, but a fact”. In a similar fashion, the classic, linear form of storytelling – a ‘bookstore’ type of novel – is loosing its charismatic appeal for the audience. Even though his over-arching belief is that the emerging forms of non-linear interface narratives are slowly replacing the older variants of novels in many formal ways, he still presents the proof of how the narrative structure of traditional novel provides a dramaturgical basis for non-linear narrative mechanisms. For example, he states that the most ideal form of a database novel is a baroque, ‘picaresque’, kind of narrative structure, a la Cervantes, because of its episodic brakes and spatio-temporal relativity. Furthermore, he states that the same ‘open’ structure of the baroque-type novels is already inherent in the current forms of interactive database narratives, to a certain extent. By using the ‘aperture’ and ‘wormholes’ as ‘spaces between’, a modern-day spectator is a fully realized creator of the narrative content, similarly to the reader of a baroque novel.
Finally, what Klein is hoping to accomplish, is to present a new model for the interactive narrative platforms, that would base their structure on the dream-like, decentered organization of the baroque novel.
1) While the main thesis question of his essay is the relationship between new technologies and traditional forms of storytelling, the secondary question underlines his hypothesis – what are the ideological underpinnings of his neo-baroque approach to interactive storytelling?
2) He mentioned that the current spectator has become ‘a tourist in his own body’, due to the impact of global environment. Where does he see the future of a ‘tourist’ spectator immersed in the world of alternate reality, governed by the rules of baroque phantasmagoria? What kind of sociological environment parallels that kind of spectatorship?