Working with Deadly Synchronicity made me think of Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis, and the following passages came to mind, both from the first chapter of the book on The Odyssey. In particular, he comments on the ways that Homer handles the fact that it takes Odysseus three days to enact his revenge upon the suitors:
Thus the journey is like a silent progress through the indeterminate and the contingent, a holding of the breath, a process which has no present,
which is inserted, like a blank duration, between what has passed and what lies ahead, and which yet is measured: three days! (10)
And (comparing The Odyssey and the Old Testament story of Abraham):
It would be difficult, then, to imagine styles more contrasted than those of these two equally ancient and equally epic texts. On the one hand, externalized, uniformly illuminated phenomena, at a definite time and in a definite place, connected together without lacunae in a perpetual foreground; thoughts and feelings completely expressed; events taking place in leisurely fashion and with very little of suspense. On the other hand, the externalization of only so much of the phenomena as is necessary for the purpose of the narrative, all else left in obscurity; the decisive points of the narrative alone are emphasized, what lies between is nonexistent; time and place are undefined and call for interpretation; thoughts and feeling remain unexpressed, are only suggested by the silence and the fragmentary speeches; the whole permeated with the most unrelieved suspense and directed toward a single goal (and to that extent far more of a unity), remains mysterious and ‘fraught with background.’ (11-12)
Auerbach lauds the process of storytelling here, noting how subtly Homer’s text plays with the idea of narrative, linear progress. Suspense in Auerbach’s mind is built by the potential for action that exists as Odysseus reveals himself to Telemachus, as the two plan the archery contest, and as the suitors fail to string the bow. The subsequent release of tension in the battle that ensues comes with the contextual knowledge that – until we know for certain that Odysseus will triumph – the social order that Penelope maintained delicately with the weaving (and unweaving) of Odysseus’s funeral shroud was at stake. In Auerbach’s reading, the “decisive points of the narrative” that are emphasized, with nothing else available to the reader, creates a liminal space that propels the narrative forward, allowing the reader to fill the images themselves.
Because he has lost his memory in the attack upon him, Michael also cannot provide context for what we as player-characters see. Neither he nor Telemachus know what’s been disguised and hidden from them, and this lack of knowledge threatens the social order. Michael’s social order lies in his career as a photo-journalist, someone who produces images for an investigative newspaper, one devoted to uncovering corruption and other threats. Telemachus’s connection to the social order lies more in its fabric – as the heir to Odysseus’s crown he alone possesses the physical strength of his father, and his virtue is also equivalent to that needed to maintain the kingdom.
The difference lies in the sense of agency that they possess. Telemachus tries to find out about his father, but he does not pursue the knowledge with detective-like zeal (of course, detectives didn’t yet exist, so there’s that). Michael on the other hand fights (literally) to find out what is happening, and he takes this fight so seriously that he suddenly becomes the person who can go back in time and find the Gibsonian spot of when-it-all-changed.
There’s more on this, of course, but this post is too long as it is…