A Brief Discussion about Nine Stories Down (a.k.a Down
Nine Stories, a.k.a. Stories (Nine Down))
First, a brief recap of the four constraints of a Cyclical:
- The text (usually a short story) must be decomposable into simpler and, for the purposes of this constraint, atomic parts (usually paragraphs).
- The reader may begin reading at any one of the text's parts, and read the parts thereafter serially, without skipping any. When the reader reaches the end she must continue at the start of the text. She stops reading when all parts have been read exactly once.
- All versions of the story (there will be as many as there are atomic parts) must make sense, particularly in terms of chronology and causality.
- A qualitatively different interpretation must be possible from the different readings.
Stories (Nine Down) (a.k.a. Nine Stories Down, a.k.a. Down Nine Stories) adheres to the aforementioned constraints:
- The text in question is indeed a short story, and my choice of atomic part was the paragraph.
- The nine stories accessible from the grid represent each of the readings.
- Each reading makes sense. Really. If you read it enough times.
- The "qualitatively different interpretation" I chose to tinker with was the literal question of which of the two characters, Jason or Sonja, actually fell to their death in the story. I claim that in interpretations #4, #6, and #8 it is Jason who commits suicide, and in interpretations #2, #3, #7, and #9 Jason pushes Sonja off the balcony. Interpretations #1, #5, are masterworks of Joycean ambiguity and any attempt to derive a factual reconstruction of events is just a pile of postmodernist nonsense.
I'll be the first to admit that a fair bit of artifice was necessary to achieve what little of this effect was possible. The "glass elevator" Jason rides down the side of the building is supposed to a literal elevator in some interpretations, and death-imagery in others. The gentle THUD of a body hitting the asphalt may be interpreted variously as Jason or Sonja's death, or merely as Jason, on the ground outside the building, tripping over himself in a drunken stupor. I'm not sure why I put the pun on "sentence" in there.
"Jason" and "Sonja" are, as you probably noticed, rotations of each other. The pun on "stories" in the title(s) is also deliberate.