Joining the Dots
How might be reader interpret fragments, and how might that way
of reading be applied more widely?
These fragment-based operations also apply in denser, more syntax-rich situations,
even if narrative exists.
- Fill the Gaps - fragments might be interpreted as an
incomplete whole. Sometimes the completion is uncontroversial - in a "show don't tell" narrative the reader fills
in the unspoken detail; In a painting some standard details might be left unfinished
or unpainted. But if there is doubt, something novel may appear in this gap. Eliot and Pound spoke of "emotion" in this context, but
more likely some surreal image or blend may appear.
- Contrast - 2 objects (or patches of colour, or phrases)
might be juxtaposed
without an implied middle term. A bright pink square beside an
orange circle is in itself a sensory experience. A flower growing through
cracked concrete, (or a meeting of an umbrella with a sewing machine) might
- Montage - fragments can be arranged so that the viewer is encouraged
to make conections rather than follow directions. The rich mesh of association
may well predominate over any particular fragment or pair of fragments.
- Art - the pink/orange contrast may be a sub-ordinate affect in a realist
work - a nude against a sunset for example
- Music - A major-minor chord change that dominates a Minimalist work
might only be a bass sub-motif in an orchestral work.
- Literature - Lists and rummaging through lofts are opportunities
to juxtapose items. Juxtaposed, clashing sounds might be part of a smooth narrative in a poem.
Narrative may be gratuitous - a "washing line" to string up nice images, or
a way to get from one set-piece to another in a novel.
Updated in February 2007