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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Only Six Emotional Arcs

   
Author Topic: Only Six Emotional Arcs
extrinsic
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A Vermont University Computational Laboratory study claims that all, most anyway, narratives erect one of six emotional arcs. Reviews of the study find flaws in the analysis, one here "Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling".

The six arcs:
"A steady, ongoing rise in emotional valence, as in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll.
A steady ongoing fall in emotional valence, as in a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet.
A fall then a rise, such as the man-in-a-hole story, discussed by Vonnegut. [such as Frank Herbert's Dune (bracket content mine)]
A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus.
Rise-fall-rise, such as Cinderella.
Fall-rise-fall, such as Oedipus." (Technology Review July 6 2016)

"Valence" applied to emotional charge comes from derivation of the term ambivalence, not as might be apparent directly from chemistry. See Wikipedia: Valence (psychology) for a brief summary explanation of the concept's context and texture.

Reviewer criticisms of the study and conclusions are manifold. However, the true basis of substance is use of computing technology to analyze literature's emotional charge. The study, though, paints from too broad a brush, misses, of course, irony, and incompletely appreciates dramatic structure's multi-dimensionality of antagonism, causation, and, in particular, tension's emotional context and texture roles.

The study measured emotional valence, and assigned charge to individual meaning units, also known as memes. Such a subjective approach naturally and necessarily misses a meme's full contextural charge and probable ambivalence. Irony in particular, where a negatively or positively charged meme is, in fact, contexturally affirmed as its opposite charge meaning -- irony.

Yet the study computationally confirms what Aristotle asserted long ago about overall and large scale narrative movement; that is, tragedy starts from a favorable situation and moves to an unfavorable outcome; comedy starts from an unfavorable situation and moves to a favorable outcome; and Aristotle allows though does not categorize nor explicate tragic-comedy nor comic-tragedy. The study did conclude that latter complex form, with attendant diametric pivots, or turns or twists, also explicated by Aristotle, is the more appealing, generally, type, back when, since, or now.

Okay, fantastical technology and science in its infancy advanced an increment. Nothing else new knowledge here.

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wetwilly
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quote:
A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus.
Ha! They might be looking at this a little too literally.
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extrinsic
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The Icarus legend uses tangible motifs with figurative significance to teach morals. The lessons of Icarus are impetuous youth, sloth, pride, and overambition are a fatal combination.

The real agonist of the legend is Daedalus anyway, who likewise exhibited hubris and sloth, of a father's duties to a son and subject's to a king, Minos. Daedalus' actions regarding the Minoan Labyrinth and the Minotaur -- Daedalus' rise -- and Queen Pasiphae and Ariadne and Theseus -- the inciting errors -- are the first cause of Icarus' demise. Or as Aristotle puts it, initial moral error and frailty cause Daedalus, first, imprisonment then the loss of his son, the tragic fall.

I second, though, the study looks too literally and invariably at figurative aspects, as science's beliefs necessarily do. From a tangible to a figurative contexture translated to a literal one, to a figurative intent and interpretation of a practical irony: Can science and machines catch up to Kierkegaard's irony's infinite, absolute negativity? Transcended only if an oftentimes ironic misdirection method and intent is appreciated.

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extrinsic
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Oh, and the rise and fall arc the study finds about Icarus is emotional, not per se the literal rise and fall arc of Icarus' flight, from positive emotions' rise to negative emotions' fall. Those are perhaps biased assumptions; that is, what constitutes desirable emotional responses are assumed to be good feelings' rise not bad feelings' fall, per se. Tragedy, narratives generally, foremost rely upon dread and its attendant hope for conflict's functions: and, both, and more.

Narratologists assert tragedy is the higher narrative art form. For one, tragedy entails the stronger uses of artful irony, the several persuasion functions of emotional response, and stronger overall social function for literature -- moral commentary that serves social information, caution, adjustment, correction, castigation, and control functions.

The higher caliber of tragedy's appeals must be due to some persuasive rationale; to wit, tragedy that is complex, is both comedy and tragedy outcomes of personal maturation growth, or decline, at a proportionate, non-zero sum scenario personal cost, or profit. Not tragedy averted, rather, tragedy caused by selfishness compensated due to self-sacrifice or vice versa.

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