Monstorous semblance of a novel: LG15 and crowd-source fiction

LG15 fan poster

I’ve been trying to get LG15 research under control for about a year now. Granted I keep catching up with the vlogs and then taking a break to work on my Second Life research, and everytime I return to the series, I am hundred videos, thousands of comments, and a bunch of forum threads behind. And now that I finally started writing on my LG15 chapter and find it difficult to structure the beast so-to-speak, I am realizing more and more that LG15 is like the elephant in the room that gives a different feeling to whomever touches it. The story of LG15 is pretty lame if you ask me, but its open structure that gives way to a monsterous formlessness is quite intriguing.

Nabokov's butterflySo, as a narratologist by training with a focus on the novel, I couldn’t help but remembering Charles Kinbote’s famous words in Vladimir Nabokov’s brilliant novel, Pale Fire. Charles Kinbote, in his attempts to annotate John Shade’s poem who happens to be a contemporary famous poet, butchers the original work and turns it into the “semblance of a novel.” LG15 not just reminds me of Pale Fire, but also Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, one of the earliest attempts at writing a novel. Shandy is writing an autobiography, but since he attempts to capture life in its entirety in all of its minutea, he is not able to get passed the age 4-5 in nine books. He calls this method progression by digression. Interestingly, centuries later and after the development of digital technologies, here we are, using the same model to develop stories of a different kind.

I intend to use LG15 as an example of a successful open-source fiction, one more effective than Douglas Rushkoff’s Exit Strategy which, at the time of its online publication, had been hailed as such. Possibly because of its initial financial limitations, the series was losely structured to begin with. Joshua Davis, in his Wired article called “The Secret World of Lonelygirl explains: “[a]s Bree’s universe expands, each new character will have his or her own vlog. Flinders can’t write and film them all, so new writer-directors have been hired and paired with actors playing the new characters. Unlike television, where writers sit in a room and come up with a single script, the Lonelygirl15 team comes up with a general plotline and then sends its writer-directors out to produce independent but interconnected videos. All characters, in essence, have their own shows.”

But this alone does not ensure that the work becomes an open-source narrative. Its audience is able to change the story by interacting with the message boards and creating various extensions of the story.A fan, Cerrah, admits that “I kinda like how the show continues on with the plot, yet is always giving the fans what they ask for. Like this video completely addressed all the comment talk from the last few vids. [V]ery entertaining in my opinion.”  As such, it has been hailed as primarily a fan-based show, a quality which renders it all the more endearing to its audience.

The fans even created LG15 ARGs. Now, I think ARGs, are also another example of open-source fiction. I think that what awaits me in the next month or so is catching up on these ARGs and possibly interviewing some folks.

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