gbsteve (gbsteve) wrote,

Feeling not doing

I've been posting quite a bit recently on the Forge, mostly because RPGnet is banned from work. I can also post at so I've no idea what the logic in the banning software is.

MJ Young has kindly offered to write a piece on the background and reasons for theory. The outline he sent me is pretty damn good so I'm looking forward to this. Hopefully it'll spark some debate and encourage more thought in this area.

I also posted a link M John Harrison's piece of why you can't roleplay (his) fiction. This has lead to over 100 posts in three different threads. I also followed this up with some posts to MJH's site and he's posted some very interesting comments about his fiction and in two things that he was trying to achieve namely Objective Correlative and Negative Capability. I hadn't come across these before, being a Maths graduate and all, so here's what I found.

The first is a thought of Eliot's from 1919 in an essay on Hamlet that asserted:
The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an "objective correlative"; in 
other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that 
particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are 
given, the emotion is evoked.
Which I take to mean that the should be a direct correspondence between words and emotion, and that it should be the same for every one. The language of words becomes a language of emotion, much in the same way that music does.

The second is from a letter of Keats' from 1817 in which he says:
....several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of 
Achievement especially in Literature which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean NEGATIVE 
CAPABILITY, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any 
irritable reaching after fact & reason 
Which is about not closing off meaning, always leaving space open for the reader to put of themselves. In fact possibly even insisting on such.

It's MJH's contention that taken together, these disallow any interaction with Viriconium except through his text, which seems fair enough to me. On the other hand, when I did run my Viriconium game, I was after something similar in that I was hoping to make any plot secondary to the players emotions. I didn't tell the players and although the game was succesful, I'm not sure about achieving negative capability.

I did something similar in my recent Delta Green game but the players were only too keen to confront the mystery rather than accept it. A lot depends on the players I guess.

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