By Patrick Colm Hogan
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Extra resources for Affective Narratology. The Emotional Structure of Stories
It is difficult to say how long this sequence took. There is a “torrent” of words that may have lasted ten seconds or ten minutes. Either way, the entire matter is reduced to the key emotional moments isolated above. ” Incidents, as I am using the term, are the focal points of emotional response, the minimal units of emotional temporality. Moreover, they seem to operate through something akin to lateral inhibition. Specifically, the isolation of an incident appears to reduce the saliency of surrounding occurrences.
As Stiva recalls this highly emotional experience (or sequence of experiences), a few components stand out sharply. The first is the image of Dolly with the letter, “looking at him with an expression of horror, despair, and fury” (2). What is striking here is that this immediately divides the experience into an almost atemporal focus and a broader periphery. The focal moment is in some way the key experience. It is the point that defines the emotion, or that crystallizes it. There is of course a larger event here.
In terms of the preceding discussion, it seems that theorists who focus on episodes and particularly on stories are likely to view emotion in terms of appraisal. In contrast, theorists who focus on events and particularly on incidents are likely to view emotion in terms of perception. The remainder of this chapter considers these two alternative approaches to emotion, developing a possible synthesis that brings together the benefits of each, and examining the relation of the resulting account to subnarrative temporal encoding.