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Friday, February 28, 2014

Code

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 12:00 PM
 

From Northrop Frye's The Great Code: The Bible and Literature , Ch. 3: Metaphor I —

"In the preceding chapter we considered words in sequence, where they form narratives and provide the basis for a literary theory of myth. Reading words in sequence, however, is the first of two critical operations. Once a verbal structure is read, and reread often enough to be possessed, it 'freezes.' It turns into a unity in which all parts exist at once, without regard to the specific movement of the narrative. We may compare it to the study of a music score, where we can turn to any part without regard to sequential performance. The term 'structure,' which we have used so often, is a metaphor from architecture, and may be misleading when we are speaking of narrative, which is not a simultaneous structure but a movement in time. The term 'structure' comes into its proper context in the second stage, which is where all discussion of 'spatial form' and kindred critical topics take their origin."

Related material: 

"The Great Code does not end with a triumphant conclusion or the apocalypse that readers may feel is owed them or even with a clear summary of Frye’s position, but instead trails off with a series of verbal winks and nudges. This is not so great a fault as it would be in another book, because long before this it has been obvious that the forward motion of Frye’s exposition was illusory, and that in fact the book was devoted to a constant re-examination of the same basic data from various closely related perspectives: in short, the method of the kaleidoscope. Each shake of the machine produces a new symmetry, each symmetry as beautiful as the last, and none of them in any sense exclusive of the others. And there is always room for one more shake."

— Charles Wheeler, "Professor Frye and the Bible," South Atlantic Quarterly  82 (Spring 1983), pp. 154-164, reprinted in a collection of reviews of the book.
 

For code  in a different sense, but related to the first passage above,
see Diamond Theory Roullete, a webpage by Radamés Ajna.

For "the method of the kaleidoscope" mentioned in the second
passage above, see both the Ajna page and a webpage of my own,
Kaleidoscope Puzzle.

2 Comments

  1. Many thanks, Stephen. I've been searching for the top quote, using the keywords "synchronic, diachronic", for years in Frye's work…  If you happen to know where he uses thopse words ikn the context of sequntial vs frozen readings, I'd be much obliged! — Charles

    Comment by hipbone — Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 3:21 PM

  2. Try a Google Book Search for “NORTHROP FRYE” SYNCHRONIC DIACHRONIC.

    Comment by m759 — Friday, March 14, 2014 @ 6:51 PM

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