Narrative archaeology: points of view
As you may have heard in your news, in Italy fascism is rising again and even people with important civil positions (such as teachers) or public offices feel entitled to express their adherence to the negative values of the nazi-fascist ideology.
I pass over the fact that freedom of speech is a right only if you are the first to allow it and fascists do not usually do that (and that the persecution of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, communists is not a matter of points of view but an historical reality) and I ask myself some questions about narrative points of view, since it is my field, the one in which I am really at ease.
My questioning depends on a fortuitous discovery: during my narrative wanderings, I read a 1990 comic (which apparently marks the pencils debut of a very young Mastantuono, with the story of De Angelis), with a man who wakes up on board a spaceship a few years before reaching his destination and wakes up a woman … he also recall to you 2016 movie Passengers? After a similar beginning, the two stories develop in different ways, hence I thought about 1998 movie Sliding doors, then an essay I didn’t recall the title written by Stanislaw Lem, then 1992 Pat Cadigan’s novel Fools, then the desolate land in which much of Italian institutional policy is sinking (oookay, not the connections are clear and safe, it’s the wandering way of reasoning).
Until a certain year the most famous and mainstream idea of the Nazis in power was that of Fatherland (Robert Harris, 1992, the same year of Fools, novel), because The Man the High Castle (Philip K. Dick, 1962, novel… the Italian title was almost better: La svastica sul sole, The Swastika on the Sun) was confined to fans of science fiction.
Both The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood, 1985, novel) and a certain feminist narrative of the seventies characterized some dystopian settings as carriers of certain memetic sets, but they were non-focus for me now.
I discovered then with a joyful surprise card The Big Time (Fritz Lieber, 1958, novel) in which a character comes from another timeline in which the Nazis won. I think it’s the most old literary find of this idea.
Reasoning on the points of view, brought to mind Anatomy of a soldier (Harry Parker, 2016, novel) the story of a soldier and then war veteran in which each chapter is told from the point of view of an object (his shoes, a roll of gauze, the chemical fertilizer used to build the bomb that will force him to return home at length, etc.). A stunning idea.
Which stands between The Informers (Bret Easton Ellis, 1994, short stories), in which each story is a piece of a wider panorama, Das Sterben der Pythia (Friedrich Dürrenmatt, 1976, short story, a stunning short story) and Underworld (Don De Lillo, 1997, novel) in which the trait d’union of the stories told is a baseball ball that passes from hand to hand (and I’m almost sure to remember a novel fantasy built in this same way, but I can’t recall it).
I’ve written a series entitled Memories of a 38 (Fromental, Bouquet and Franz, eighties, comic books) in which again an object (a single object, as in De Lillo, even if here is a P38 pistol) tells its own story, the passages, the owners and the places it has seen.
And I continue to marvel, from my privileged vantage point, of how rich and fascinating the panorama of escapist literature is.
(I’ve written this post in 2019 fall, then I forget it. But maybe someone is interested. Archaeology doesn’t grow old!)