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Bartual, Roberto: "Towards a Panoptical Representation of Time and Memory – Chris Ware, Marcel Proust and Henri Bergson’s “Pure Duration”." In: Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art 1.1 (2012), 46–68, <http://sjoca.com/wp-con ... 1-1-Article-Bartual.pdf> (11. Juni 2012)
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BibTeX citation key: Bartual2012
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Keywords: Bergson. Henri, Literatur, Memoria, Narratologie, Proust. Marcel, Ware. Chris
Collection: Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art
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The way we conceive time is conditioned by sequential narrative mediums that generally work in a linear manner. Literature and film force the reader or spectator to grasp single units of meaning one at a time according to our dominant conception of duration; that is, a chain of frozen moments that come and go in a continuous succession.
Henri Bergson challenged that idea, arguing that we can only truly perceive time in those exceptional occasions of self-absorption in which we lose the sense of succession, melting past and present in an organic whole. Bergson called this particular conception of time “pure duration”, developing a new theory of memory that inspired some of the most important modernist novelists, especially Marcel Proust, who reconstructed his life remembrances following Bergson’s theories in À la recherche du temps perdu.
In this article I relate both Bergson’s theory and Proust’s narrative technique to the work of Chris Ware. By conceiving the page as a network of panels that must be grasped simultaneously, Ware challenges the merely sequential narrative technique most comics use, directly addressing Bergson’s notion of “pure duration” as a perception of overlapping moments. Ware has shown, as I will argue here, that comics may be the ideal medium for representing time in a non-linear manner because of its panoptic quality: its power to make the reader see past, present and future simultaneously in the panels of a single page.
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