Sunday, April 6, 2008

SOC stuff

I talk in stream-of-consciousness all the time, going from point to point effortlessly. Some might say I'm being totally random. I know that people who are not in the loop with all the jumping get confused and frustrated. (Apologies, parents) Anyway, I finished reading "Tristram Shandy & A Sentimental Journey" by Laurence Sterne and was once again boggled by the SOC I encountered in these two books. "A Sentimental Journey" was less stream-of-consciousness than "Tristram Shandy" was, but still boggling all the same. "Tristram Shandy" is a hard book to follow and well-nigh completely plotless. A hundred little side-plots flowing through Shandy's shifting, meandering narrative. There's much more about his father and uncle than about himself in this book. Constant dialogue between these fellows, and it goes so much deeper than a few remarks per scene.
Sterne also has to flesh out just about every back-story he creates, which leaves the reader spinning and gasping for air every now and then. I'm not saying the book is bad. For its time, and even for these days, it's a ground-breaker. People still like a ghost of a plot that they can follow, so I don't know if "Tristram Shandy" would be welcome had it been published these days. Of course, there's also Joyce's "Ulysses" for those seeking a SOC experience. I've read that book, and I know I'll have to read it again, because I was totally lost.
Before I wrap this up, I have one more SOC experience to discuss. In 1968, the Monkees came out with their 'flawed but interesting' movie "Head". Our familiy was enduring a rebirth of Monkeemania in the late 1990's and my sister bought "Head" to see what it was like. Anyone who has seen the movie knows what kind of experience it is. The heroes jump from event to event, and yet it all hangs rather well together. Considered ground-breaking in a technical sense (underwater camera action), it was a huge bomb at the box office. "Head" was my first encounter with stream-of-consciousness outside the house. Not my favourite movie, but better than some movies with actual plots.
Just like "Tristram Shandy" and "Ulysses".

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