Network Narratives in Global Cinema: The Shift from Community to Network and Their Narrative Logics


  • Seung-hoon Jeong California State University, Long Beach


Słowa kluczowe:

network narratives, transnational and global cinema


In the backdrop of global interconnection, such films as “Crash”, “Syriana”, and “Babel” drew attention to the six-degrees-of-separation “network narrative.” This type of distributed narrative with multiple access points or discrete threads has long evolved, perhaps since Griffith’s “Intolerance” and via modern masterpieces: Altman’s “Nashville” and “Shortcuts” weave many characters into a portrait of their social ground unmapped by themselves; Bunuel’s “Phantom of Liberty” shifts among characters only through the contingent movement of the camera. These two elements (multiple characters, a floating agent) intermingle now in the way that the protagonist takes the role of the very agent navigating among contingently networked characters in further decentralized directions: “Birdman” centers on the hero’s salvation but many other people around him form and cross small dramas; the protagonist in “Waking Life” shuffles through a dream meeting various people; “Holly Motors” stages a Parisian’s bizarre city odyssey, with the true agent turning out to be a car/cars; “Mysterious Object at Noon” experiments on the ‘exquisite corpse’ relay of a story through different people whom the director encounters while moving around... What does this non-linearity with different causal relations imply? How do mobile agents floating over decentralized events relate to global networks in general? This paper investigates today’s network narratives through an interdisciplinary approach to the notion of network as opposed to community even beyond film narratology. For instance, if the masculine formula of Lacan’s sexuation (all are submitted to the phallic function but for one exception) underlies community, its feminine formula (not all are submitted to the phallic function but there is no exception) works for networking. Community forms the totality of all and an exception that fuels the universal desire to make it utopian, but network has the infinity of drives to (dis)connections dismantling community, yet thereby leaving no exceptional outside. Community is a closed set of subjects who may be ‘abjected’ from it; network is an open whole of endless links along which the subject-abject shift constantly occurs in the mode of being ‘on/off’ rather than ‘in/out.’ In Deleuze’s terms, community works as a “tree-like” vertical system of hierarchical units in the historical trajectory to its perfection, whereas the network creates a “rhizomatic” horizontal movement of molecular forces in non-dialectic, non-linear directions. Foucauldian “discipline” is a key to subjectivation in the community, but it turns into Deleuzian “control” in the network that promotes flexible agency and continuous modulation without exit. As actor-network theorists argue, nothing precedes and exists outside ever-changing networks of relationship. The network narrative will thus be explored as a cinematic symptom of the radical shift from community to network that both society and subjectivity undergo with all the potentials and limitations in our global age.


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2021-10-19 — zaktualizowane 2021-10-19

Jak cytować

Jeong, S.- hoon. (2021). Network Narratives in Global Cinema: The Shift from Community to Network and Their Narrative Logics. Panoptikum, (26), 131–152.