The Exonovel, a concept to develop

Exoskeleton definition by Google:

“The exoskeleton is the external skeleton that covers the entire surface of animal arthropods, where it serves a protective, breathing or mechanical fuction, providing the needed support for the effectiveness of the muscular system. It also refers to secreted droppings of corals, often mineralized.”

By taking advantage of this root concept, we try to define a first approximation of what the Exonovel would be:

“what supports a novel, which gives it inner strength and protects it, and without which it is not possible.”

The Web is a very interesting place to use as a contemporary example for the Exonovel. Let’s imagine a novel, on paper, which gave the necessary Internet adresseses to find other relevant components of it, parts of it that need other supports and other languages. This has already been done, I believe many of us already do so or have done it in our books.

It’s like an extension of the notion of the footnote, but referred to a Web site instead of this or that text or that encyclopedia. Besides having the advantage of being immediately accessible, it is interesting because we can make that kind of delocalized note that it is not just a simple note, but a component of the plot. Thus, the novel uses not only other media but what is important, other languages in this exonovel separated from the body of the novel.

This exonovel can be made of various materials, such as posts made by the author specifically for the novel, or may be blogs with an independent existence prior to the novel. In this case it would constitute an act of appropriation as this concept is understood in visual arts.

But you can also create websites that hold the novel through various materials, specifically YouTube videos filmed with unpublished material or consolidating what is already on the Net, or you can create profiles on Facebook that are characters in the novel, or linking to real Facebookprofiles that would automatically become part of the fiction and would be new characters.

The possibilities are many. Then there is the added bonus: the novel could evolve if the author allows these blogs, videos and facebooks to be open for the reader to leave comments, add nuance or even parallel plots in the novel. These would mean entering a practice that has been called fanfiction.

Is a type of exonovela increases as the complexity with materials that are added

The model that follows this type of exonovel is a shell and and a support that is outside the body of the book, dislocated, and conceptually keep san analogy with the exoskeleton of certain corals, which are their own excretions, and mostly separate from the body itself. Moreover, being a printed book, in which we limit ourselves to record links to those who have to go on the computer, it’s clear that the book is the absolute reference center of the novel, and only through information provided by the book we can access the exonovel, placed on the Web. The paper book is the “absolute center of reference” of the work.

If the digital book is of an evolved status, such as a “tablet” (a sort of e-book that would allow direct links to the Internet on real time, and the inclusion of video and sound on the screen itself), the matrix text does not exist anymore, and would not be an absolute reference for the work. In this case we are in the typical configuration of Internet, which has no center or the center is at all times the place where that navigator is located. The flows go in both directions.

This model is the model I chose to expand my El hacedor (Borges) Remake (Alfaguara 2011, available for iPad tablet)

A simile:

Typically, the reader has a unique perspective on the book, just like a theater audience, that sits at a fixed point and watches the story develop from a rectangular stage. This is not only the case of the theater but also, originally, of the film. The French genius of the cinema, famous for introducing in the late 19th century the idea of film as entertainment and not just as a document and the inventor of the first special effects is remembered for his famous Trip to the Moon piece. He rolled and edited all his films the same way, from a frontal and single perspective just like the theater. The camera was equivalent to the spectators sitting in an armchair. It did not occur to them as it was out of their worldview and perspective to move the camera that was filming. The only movement came from the characters in the film. The camera was the same as a viewer. The camera was the viewer.

Frame of a Melies film. The viewer's perspective is the one of a theatrical representation.

Frame of a Melies film. The viewer’s perspective is the one of a theatrical representation.

But in the early 20th century, someone thought the camera could film the actors moving, tourning behind them, making shots and reverse shots, like wanting to say : we will cover all points of view so that the viewer moves with the camera, which is a ubiquitous and mobile viewer. We will lift the audience of his/her theater seat to get him/her on stage and to see what was behind. This seems an acceptable imitation of what the expanded novel could be in the Network through its corresponding Exonovel, not settling for the idea that the reader is only one person in a chair, but moves by other systems and supports provided by the Internet. This is a very ambitious idea if you want to take it to the limit. We are now in its prehistory, its own Altamira cave stage. In my opinion, when it is sufficiently developed, it will replace what is now film and what was once architecture. I mean it as an artistic medium able to accommodate and transform other artistic practices. It is an idea that comes from the Baroque: the ambition to fill it all, to occupy all available space, to exhaust all possible techniques. The idea of having not only movement but accelerated motion. And that limit, of course, can also lead to failure.

From an uncoming essay, Agustín Fernández Mallo, 2011.

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  • Marco K | 15 April 2011

  • Óscar R. Cardeñosa | 15 April 2011

  • Carlos Vera Da Souza | 03 June 2011

  • Benjamín Escalonilla | 31 October 2013

  • Gorki | 23 September 2018

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The Exonovel, a concept to develop