Network Theory

“…once you make a network of a play, you stop working on the play proper, and work on a model instead: you reduce the text to characters and interactions, abstract them from everything else, andthis process of reduction and abstraction makes the model obviously much less than the original object…”

I find this fascinating, that Moretti is able to reduce a creative work to its bones, and to pick it like hawks to carrion in a manner that examines it while recognizing that the work is an extension of someone’s creativity. We look into it as if it were an MRI or even an X-ray, and probe around in its depths to see what makes it unique.

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2 thoughts on “Network Theory

  1. I completely agree about how interesting this quote or the concept described in this quote is. And your example of an MRI or X-ray plays on this very well, by reducing the part of the body behind the machine into a digital picture we change its entire purpose to a depiction of only part of its whole.

  2. I think both of you have used great illustrations. I would like to add I think the author is focusing on how converting a play to a graph is a “lossy” process. In image compression, we use computers to basically summarize an image with a variety of techniques to give us the image’s data in a format which requires less space. However, some techniques favor this space reduction over 100% accuracy when decompressing the image, hence lossy compression. Back to the graphing of a play, we lose story elements such as the context in which actions happened, the order in which they happened, dramatic irony if it existed, etc. We can see network graphs are favoring simplification of a piece over perfect accuracy when “decompressing” back into the full piece. This has both pros and cons which would make or break the use of this technique depending on one’s use case.

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