Quote: Indicative mood, subjunctive mood, and narrative

In recent centuries we speakers of this lovely language have reduced the English verb almost entirely to the indicative mood. But beneath that specious and arrogant assumption of certainty all the ancient, cloudy, moody, powers and options of the subjunctive remain in force. The indicative points its bony finger at primary experiences, at the Things; but it is the subjunctive that joins them, with the bonds of analogy, possibility, probability, contingency, contiguity, memory, desire, fear, and hope: the narrative connection.

Ursula Le Guin, “Some Thoughts on Narrative”, Dancing at the Edge of the World, p. 44

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2 thoughts on “Quote: Indicative mood, subjunctive mood, and narrative

  1. I think we can relate this to Latour’s notion of the different modes of enunciation and thus of modes of existence. The indicative mood is dominated by double-click, the illusion of transport without transformation. The access to what Samuel Delany calls degrees of subjunctivity is not just linguistic but equally ontological, giving access to other powers. The interesting implications of Le Guin’s idea go beyond “narrativity” and the beings of fiction, because she is appealing implicitly to a notional subjunctivity that may be present even when syntactically the mood is indicative, as in much of the enunciation in fiction.

  2. Pingback: LATOUR/ LE GUIN: Subjunctivity and the declensions of immanence | AGENT SWARM

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