Monday, May 12, 2008

"An Unwritten Novel" Visits the 21st Century...

Virginia Woolf has a short story, An Unwritten Novel. In it the narrator, on a train, concocts an entire backstory for a woman riding on the train as well. Various scenarios are thought up and decided upon to the point of being emotionally invested in something that is not even true…enough for a novel, left unwritten, of course.

I thought of it again while, of all things, I played Mario Kart Wii. Playing online with people you don’t know, you will often find yourself racing many times in a row with the same set. After various incidents, such as outracing them gloriously or losing to them only to choose the track and dominating it and then maybe winning against them on the track they selected…in other words, you might begin (as I did) to come up with scenarios for them. “Ooo…she’s mad at me because I stole first from her.” During the lag while it sets up the next race and waits for everyone’s track vote, it becomes, “What’s taking him so long? Probably needs to rub the Doritos dust on his jeans…” In short, I found myself dreaming up entire personalities and histories and situations for people I don’t even know. Just like Woolf’s narrator.
Ah, the 21st Century…

This can also be related to the philosophy in HouseSitter, as I posted here.

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