November 14, 2003

"Main" and "Minor" Characters in Twelve Blue

In thinking about the connections between form and content, I've been stuck on a quote that, I think, necessarily appears near the beginning of Twelve Blue: "Some choose to be minor characters. There is nothing wrong in this despite your suspicion, itself most likely colored by your own understandable and ordinary desire to take a central place in someone's story. Few of us think ourselves wild iris in backwater..."

In Twelve Blue, though a number of characters apparently see themselves in the terms "minor character," there aren't really any minor characters, just as there is no one central character. Perhaps this is what is truly "democratic" about hypertext, at least in this case? The thing that makes it the most "realistic" or "lifelike"? While the novelistic form has informed our worldviews from an early age and taught most of us to think of ourselves (understandably, as Joyce suggests) as main characters or protagonists, Twelve Blue is teaching us that all characters, if you read enough of their stories, are essentially equal. We are all living mostly parallel, occassionally intersecting lives, and no one is more important than any other. In this case, the hyperfiction doesn't necessarily level the power dynamic between the author and the reader; but it does offer us a different, more democratic way of reading the world around us, without the ego-distorted problem of viewing a story through identification with a so-called main character.

Mind you, these reflections may say more about me than about Twelve Blue, since I'm admitting that I certainly see myself as the protagonist of some kind of crazy, cosmic novel. But then again, I don't think I'm the only one...

Posted by wstubbs at November 14, 2003 12:58 PM