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Storytime and Narrative Anchoring

Storytime and Narrative Anchoring

A short passage from Stephen Crites' article "Storytime: Recollecting the Past and anticipating the future", in which he puts forward a narrative psychology of the self. In this passage Crites differentiates between the self who remembers and the remembered self:

[S]tory-like narrative establishes a particularly strong sense of personal continuity, because it can link an indefinite number of remembered episodes from the single point of view of the one who recounts or merely recalls the story. This single point of view is the "I" who now speaks or recalls, and this "I" which situates my story and distinguishes it from others also anchors what I call my self in its identity over time. This story-like remembrance of things past is of at least Proustian length in its full extent, though what I can recollect at a sitting is mercifully some shorter sequence of the whole. The whole story generally remains vague and merely implicit. What I own as my self is always present as the character in the story from whose perspective its episodes are recalled, claimed as its own self by this "I" who recalls. By telling the story from the perspective of this self, as in a first person narrative, usually told in the past tense, I distance this self from the intersubjective matrix of experience in order to claim it as my own, as that personal past with which I claim identity. Still there is always some hiatus between the "I" who recollects and the self who appears as a character in a succession of episodes, a hiatus that I artfully bridge by owning this self, claiming it as my own. Still there remains a point of tension where the hiatus has been bridged, a tension that I express linguistically as a differentiation of tense between past and present. (Crites, "Storytime", In Narrative Psychology, ed. T. R. Sarbin, p. 159).

This is a distinction which is familiar to narratologists, from the German tradition of Spitzer and Gunther Müller, retaken by Genette, in the form of the opposition between the "narrating I" and the "narrated I" (Erzählendes Ich / Erzähltes Ich), i. e. the first-person narrator considered either as a narrator or as a character who is and is not himself, due to the distance in time, experience, knowledge, and narratorial function. The narrated I, the character, acts as a guiding thread and usually as a focalizer, though his perspective may be often qualified by the retrospective knowledge of the narrator.

Note the qualification "recounts or merely recalls"—narrative continuity and structuration is activated in the act of representation which takes place in memory alone, although it is questionable to what extent this constitutes "a narrative" before it is actually transmitted as one. Narrativeness is stronger in actual spoken or written narratives, but there is a degree of narrativity in the process described by Crites.

Note also the use of the term "anchoring". Here it refers to the act o situating episodes or events within a personal life-story, but it is clear that it is one aspect of what we call more generally "narrative anchoring", a term which refers to all kinds of anchoring of narrative sequences within larger sequences, whether personal, collective, or universal in scope.

El anclaje narrativo

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