Briana G. Traverson
July 3, 2011
Variable Focalization: Where we find it embedded within two stories.
Through out this semester I think two stories in particular show many examples of variable focalization. According to Jahn, variable focalization is when the presentation of a narrative is actually seen from different perspectives. This happens often in She Lived In a Story and Omaha Bigelow. She Lived In a story by Guillermo Samperio was about a man creating a story. The women in the story, Ofelia doesn’t really know she’s in a story. It makes it a little hard to follow but very interesting to get into. It reminded me at times of the video game The Sims. Below I’ve linked the video just so you can get a taste and form your own opinion.
I also have another piece of media that helps us look at fantasy and creative imagination like what was used in Samperios piece. Below is a small clip from the movie Alice in Wonderland. I feel this movie is a prime example of fiction and variable focalization.
Living in the Story of a Creator
In this quote we have a discussion about an actor being different from a character. We are proposed with the question, what makes a character and actor and vise versa. Though it can be a very confusing concept we can look closely at it through the words of Guerillermo; “In one way or another actors live in a text. They live the part they were given to play and they also live the text; they do not embody anyone at all. In the theater they live in literature for a brief moment. In motion pictures, some of their moments endure with a tendency toward the infinite. Dramatics have written plays in an attempt to approach the ancient dream of the fiction writer: that human beings live in their texts. Thus, artistic creation transcends the imaginary level in order to achieve reality. In regard to my own concept, the movement is reversed; that is, reality moves toward the imaginary.” (Samperio 73) After reading this quote I got the idea that characters are fiction versions of real people. As well as when creating a character, the character you come up with subconsciously comes from someone you know. Characters also live in the world their writers create for them. It may be helpful to think about the game “The Sims” when creating different peoples actions and emotions. It is also clear to me that reality is closer to imaginary then imaginary being closer to reality. I think we see the world the way we want to, whether it has to do with our imagination or not. Reality is something people usually skip over because fantasy is always more enduring. A writer also decides a characters destiny. What will happen to the character? How will their story end up? In She lived in a Story, Ofelia (the made up woman in the story) talks about her creator writing her destiny. It can be even simpler then destiny. He writes how she is writing what she is writing. In the story Guerillermo writes; “I write that he writes a story that I live in.” (Samperio 62) Ofelia writes about the writer of her story. She tells the story of her creator. She is living in what she’s writing. Kind of like writing the life of the writer through a made up character. It also separates characters from real people. Ofelia may not really be writing because she isn’t a real person. Therefore Guillermo is really the only writer.
Creative Writing: Objectives in a title.
In She Lived in a Story by Guillermo Samperio, Guillermo is driving home to his wife while creating a story. He is quoting himself throughout the story before the actual story. He uses an idea from his lecture given a few moments earlier. Guillermo talks about creative writing being architecture. Most importantly there is a small section where he talks about how he came up with the title for his story. “Out of the blue, he said to himself that a woman would be the appropriate character. In a clouded manner he visualized a woman living in a story created by him. “She lived in the text” was first transformation. “ Now I’m already in the domain of the story; the itself is literary, it sounds good.” (Samperio 56) In class we discussed the title making the story more confusing. However, from what I’ve referred to here I feel it does the exact opposite. I think the author made the title literal and on purpose. Writers are creative thinkers and I’m strongly convinced that he knew what he was doing when he made the idea of his story the title. I think within this passage there was variable focalization because there is a narrator telling a story but the main character jumps in as well. Within Samperios story we have the one he created. Though it may first come off as confusing, it gets easier. I feel as a writer he gives clues to help you figure out where Ofelia is and what she is doing. For example, the passage below. “She accepted a certain amount of insecurity given the violence of Mexico City, She moved cautiously; now that she really was exposing herself, no one threatening her. The people in the few cars that were passing by paid no attention to her at all. Then she remembered the intensely lit spaces on the stage, when the glare of the spots prevented her from seeing the audience, who in turn were looking at her. She knows that a multitude of eyes are out there in the dark, moving to the rhythm that she establishes; lots of eyes, a great concealed eye, a giant eye fixed on her body.” (Samperio 58) Ofelia doesn’t know what is going on until she realizes that in fact she is being watched. Watched by an audiences whose eyes are fixated on her every move. Her every word. Ofelia could feel herself being watched but was unsure as to why this was happening to her. She also would question her existence on the stage. Personally, I take this as a philosophical piece of work. Even though we know she is on a stage because we are either reading or watching she doesn’t. I feel that puts the character in a very vulnerable position. She goes into thoughts of maybe being in a dream or some kind of haze. Which makes me raise the question of who’s to say the character wasn’t really on drugs? Does the writer really tell us everything? Here I felt like we witnessed hypothetical focalization because we are indeed spying on the character as well as the narrator.
Erectile Dysfunction: Disbelief and Confusion
In The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Lolsalda Jungle we have witchcraft penis dysfunctions, Spanish Harlem and the Village. We also witness a connection between an older man and a young teenager. In the passage below I feel we witness variable focalization. Meaning the story is being told through more then one pair of eyes. “As the two girls went into the bar, Omaha Bigelow lay on the sidewalk laughing but wondering how the hell they knew about his dick and the Penile Asparaguitus from which he suffered. Did they know Carrie Marshack? The bitch that kicked him out two weeks ago before because what? He didn’t have a job at Kinko’s anymore? Like working at Kinko’s with stoned poets and Puerto Rican JUCO students was supposed to be a career? Fine, Fly caught him sleeping in the back and he screwed up Sander Hicks’s copies. Big deal. It wasn’t like Allen Ginsberg died again or something. Or like he had dissed Iggy Pop when he came in that one time to copy his passport. Iggy was cool. People were nuts.” (Vega 3) Here we have the narrator discussing Omaha’s current life. He gets fired from Kinko’s, gets thrown out of his girlfriends house and everyone finds out about his personal problems. I think this is a good example of variable focalization because I see two people telling the story in this paragraph. The first sentence “As the two girls went into the bar…” forces me to listen to the author. That is the author’s perspective of Omaha’s situation. As the quote goes on I feel like it can be Omaha’s thoughts. He is asking himself questions in disbelief. As if he knows his life is slowly but surely falling apart and he just can’t get over it. The questions he proposes can be thoughts on his own situation. Towards the middle of Omaha Bigelow we witness variable focalization again. This time the author and Maruquita. “Flaquita now went to work in earnest. She said several flakura mukuras and began singing, not an enlargement song, but a shrinking song. Maruquita couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She wanted to protest but knew better then to interrupt her mother when she was working. Right before her eyes her Omagaw Boogaloo was shrinking.” (Vega 95) Here we can see ourselves getting into Maruquitas head. Even though the author is describing the scene, the way Maruquitas thoughts are portrayed is us creeping into her personal thoughts. “Omagaw Boogaloo” is Maruquitas made up name for Omaha Bigelow. As her mother, Flaquita performs the ceremony of the enlargement Maruquita relizes her mother is singing to make Omahas penis smaller. She doesn’t understand why but refuses to ask questions. And that’s where I see Maruquitas point of view. When she says “Maruquita couldn’t believe what she was seeing…” we can imagine her standing there in disbelief thinking about what went wrong and what is going on.
Examples of variable focalization make us see stories in a different way. It teaches us that words from different characters are not just that. They words are there vision, and their perspective of what is going on. Hearing a character speak is like getting into their head. As we hear them we feel closer to them. Bonding with a characters point of view is just like bonding with a person who is standing right next to you.
I do feel that variable focalization can be found in most, if not all books. Not just ones we’ve read in class. In fact I am not finding it in magazines and news articles. I’ve come to the conclusion that variable focalization is shown through dialog. Dialog shows personality and understanding as to what is going on around you.
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