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How to interpret "associative narration" (and is it really necessary)

In response to Nikica Gilić’s short theoretical-interpretative essay »Associative narration — or about prophets of documentary and experimental film«, the author praises the expression associative narration that broadens the notion of associativeness: it can appear in a single shot, without editing (as Gilić confirms it). However, the author of the study explains general (and Gilić’s) problem with the notion of associativeness: it merely denotes the non-narrative narration, thus introducing confusion. The author proceeds to elaborate on what is commonly understood as associative editing (taken over by Ante Peterlić from Sergei Eisenstein), and explains that in the case of associative editing there is no scene, i.e. in-scene connection. Still, when talking about editing discontinuity in a meaningful narration, one must first look for some »non-scene« connection between sequenced shots. Associative, or in other words discontinued editing is in opposition with continual, i.e. narrative editing.

Yet, the notion of associativeness — taken from philosophical and psychological doctrine — is not applicable if, for the purpose of determining described editing differences, we take it in its fully psychological and philosophical meaning Even one of the philosophers who was quite convincing in launching associativeness — Hume — thought that we identify causal relationships between perceived events by the »principle of association«. Namely, if all the editing connections that can be imagined and found are »associative«, whether continual or discontinued, the term is then concordant with a more general notion of »editing«. Putting aside basic terminological problems, the author notices that Gilić’s terminology lacks the type of poetic film narration, which, along with discursive narration, can be seen as a subtype of associative narration. This would reduce the terminological confusion. However, descriptive narration, an important and ubiquitous type of narration can be considered equal to narrative, poetical and discursive narration so that it would be best to send »associative narration« to the well deserved retirement — today it is no more than a historical notion linked to Sergei Eisenstein’s theory and films.

Hrvoje Turković

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