Networks: A Key to Visualization

I really hate Moretti's tone, in general, but I admit I liked reading this piece. I think his aims don't quite reach his results, but I think through his engagement with network systems and his emphasis on visualization, he effectively communicates the benefits of graphing networks. I particularly enjoyed his engagement with network theory, particularly that "making the past just as visible as the present: that is one major change introduced by the use of networks. Then, they make visible specific “regions” within the plot as a whole: subsystems, that share some significant property." I didn't quite understand the depth of these subsystems until he started discussing Horatio's relationship to structure. 

I thought about how this might apply to my own project, how "networks are made of vertices and edges; plot networks, of characters and verbal exchanges. In plays this works well, because words are deeds, deeds are almost always words, and so, basically, a network of speech acts is a network of actions." I'm working with Stoker's correspondences and I am in fact reducing each letter to its sender. I've struggled with the idea of such a reduction. Am I losing too much? Will I be reducing the field too narrowly? Will the Network itself just be enough? But Moretti has helped me through here with his discussion of the Chinese Guanxi where "nothing major happens here: people talk, walk around, play go, gossip... No interaction is crucial in itself. But taken together, they perform an essential reconnaissance function: they make sure that the nodes in this region are still communicating: because, with hundreds of characters, the disaggregation of the network is always a possibility." And that quote, I think, is incredibly important to my work. By the very fact that a network exists, it suggests interaction.

A network can reveal and highlight new patterns. As Moretti states, "you make a network of a play, you stop working on the play proper, and work on a model instead: you reduce the text to characters and interactions, abstract them from everything else, and this process of reduction and abstraction makes the model obviously much less than the original object." I'm moving into creating a model of Stoker's correspondences to visualize the network he was in. I think I was incredibly nervous about the implications of such a reduction and subsequent visualization, but I feel a little more at ease now.