Narrativistics and You: Abandoning the Notion of Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

Authors all the way up, authors all the way down. On all sides. Within and without, their sleeves rolled up and forearm deep into your psyche.

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Abandoning the Notion of Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

Sr. Researcher J. Anselm Harkness
Conceptual and Ontological Studies, Pilcrow-Minkowski Center's Hybrid Theoretics Division
on behalf of the Metaphysical Sciences Department

Welcome to the discourse on the Narrative Relativity Model, cornerstone of the Narrativistics Division, novel branch of the Metaphysical Sciences Department. I am longstanding Foundation wi-fi and reality repair man, Senior Researcher James Anselm Harkness. I don't exactly know why I am here. I don't believe I'm the best at explaining this model, nor have I worked with anything even remotely relevant. This narrative stuff, as I've come to understand it, just a few days ago, is being worked into the Metaphysical Sciences Department and outward to be eventually covered by all fields of natural sciences studied in Foundation research facilities. That means, like it or not, Narrativistics will be a part of your core education at the Foundation. It is integral to your understanding of the anomalous, integral to your understanding of this universe's place amongst everything else, and integral to understanding everything else's place amongst everything beyond that.

Now, I'm glad you're all sitting, because I have some shocking news to share with you all. If you know a bit about Pataphysics, you probably know what I'm going to say: Did you know that the Pataphysics department says we're all fictional?

Yes, yes. All of us here have heard it at one point or another. "Pata saw God and it's a fanfic writer from New Jersey" or some variation of this sentiment.

Let me assuage your fears with a little Narrativistics. There isn't a lone horror writer in New Jersey who dictates the thoughts of this entire multiverse. That you can be certain of, my dear friends.

No, instead it is a constant, vast, and ever-nesting web of complex storytelling. Authors all the way up, authors all the way down. On all sides. Within and without, their sleeves rolled up and forearm deep into your psyche. You're a fanfic writer from New Jersey, I am, God is, and the Devil, too. Everything and everyone.

No, you didn't hear me wrong. And yes, I know some of this seems… unrelated to natural sciences. Before you throw a Pata- onto any of this, however, stay with me, and allow me to say my piece. If all goes well, we'll all be better for it in the end.

Yes—I can see your looks now, especially from my, uh—I guess we'd be colleagues now, wouldn't we? From my colleagues here in the Pataphysics and Narrativics departments, shaking their heads. "Why not Pataphysics? It can handle substrates and authors, it can handle this and that!", I can hear you say, and while I agree that Pataphysics can explain many of the concepts I will put forth to you today, it cannot explain all of them. It cannot explain its own relation to the universe and reality as a whole. Furthermore, Pataphysics is simply not scientific enough. Pataphysics is a philosophical system of governance. Narrativics works incredibly well for a small bundle of worlds but breaks down in others.

These extant models exist to bring local order to an "increasingly chaotic" macro system. Here's the issue with that line of thinking though: This system is not increasingly chaotic. Chaos has always been there, while we've become more accustomed to order, and our grasp weakens on the corner of the multiverse that we've tried so hard to control for as long as we have. In the end, we've only grown more aware of its absurdity. Some of us understand that level of chaos cannot truly be contained at this scale. It's a pipe dream.

We can, however, do our best to understand it and quantify it. That's the thing about chaotic macro systems; the further you zoom out, the more ordered it appears, the more familiar are the rules it abides by. Narrativistics is to zoom out. All the way out.

And while Narrativistics has very clear, quantifiable applications for understanding the Grand Cosmology as a unified system—we'll get to that—the Pataphysics flavors of Foundation edge-case narrative studies have always been nebulous, at best. You may have found yourself at one point or another on either side of the many debates—on the existence, the relevance, the reasoning behind failure to broadly cohere with all timelines, or of which demiurge you ascribe to as your Pataphysical higher power—though the debates are always being had. Most often, this is the fault of the hard "rules" of popular Pataphysics models, or lack of hard rules, I should say. Models derived from the prototypical postulations of S.A. Swann's research into the topic regarded such granular aspects of reality in the same way a proto-Hermeticist maneuvered through the esoteric studies of alchemy. Indeed, you will find many personnel on Foundation territories espousing Pataphysics jargon as if the mere use of the lingo serves as an incantation to bring about further understanding.

Likewise, while deriving gold from mercury was indeed possible to even the least talented of members of the Golden Dawn, we know today, even a century ago, that the methodologies used were less than optimal. They were messy and inaccurate, unlike the physical sciences that grew to explain much of the phenomena in the centuries to come. In 1941 the first proof of this was synthesized via particle accelerator, though humanity's quest for fiat-based economic systems derived from scarcity made these methods cost prohibitive. Today, advanced Foundation technologies can 3D print bars of gold for a fraction of the value, and if you don't believe me, just ask the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Don't actually do that. They won't know what you're talking about, but we will. We also have very powerful drugs to administer to people who spill Foundation secrets and to those who hear said secrets. They begin with an "A", although I can't seem to recall the name…

[chuckles] Okay, we have some levity, good. We're gonna need it.

To my original point—Conversations surrounding the usage and validity of Pataphysics within the scope of Foundation operations have been around since the department's inception. While we've confirmed the need for a division specializing in variably-real realities, it is time for us to move past the assumptions we have about narrative works and, frankly, our own reality. Once you understand the relationship between different narrative substrates, you will see the parallels between Ontology and Narrativistics, and the rest will follow suit.

First and foremost: Narrativistics, what is it?


Narrativistics is a reframing of the roles of the narrative, character and author that is infinitely extrapolatable and fully inclusive. It has three main pillars of understanding:

One. There is no difference between fiction and non-fiction, as the title of the seminar suggests. There is something of an illusion of fictionality or lack thereof, due to the perception and origin of the observer within the "narrative stack"; Narrativism, Believability and Realism are byproducts of narrative relativity and the origin signature of the observer. Thus, all narratives are equally "real" to the characters experiencing them; it is, by all intents and purposes, their reality.


I should clarify: the "narrative stack", unlike most other models, is simply a visualization tool, like the point-line-plane postulate; usage of this system to describe literal narrative reality is erroneous and obsolete, as there is no linear vector to/from other narrative planes. Many narratives exist with similar Narritivism/Believability/Realism (NBR) levels but do not interact and are, in all actuality, disparate in nature. Thus, you can assume that narratives are not "stacked" in the traditional sense. It may help you better understand narrative realities to picture them as frequencies on a radio that exist out-of-phase with one another, in tightly wound groups of related stories called canonical bundles. "Tuning" into a specific plane involves moving the dial a certain distance from your origin station, which is harder to complete, the further your destination is from your origin. If you turn the dial one way, you become less relatively real to people in your origin station. If you turn it the other, you become more relatively real.


This is pillar number two: Perceived realness fluctuates in two directions, either unreal or hyperreal, and each narrative has a unique signature or "frequency" that you retain when you move across layers. Being hyperreal or unreal accounts for all ontokinetic activity; all reality bending anomalies can be filtered as either hyperreal or unreal. For ease of understanding, consider all realities as being on this spectrum, ranging from negative infinity to positive infinity, but without an absolute zero; nonreal phenomena is distinct from real phenomena, be it hyperreal or unreal. Nonreal phenomena by definition cannot exist, even in places where it absolutely should; the act of conceptualizing or otherwise providing an example invalidates said example as truly nonreal.

Worry not about the potential for fuzzy, anomalous science-induced migraines, as nonreal phenomena cannot impact you or your career in any meaningful way…we're relatively sure, anyhow. There is a working theory that nonreal matter/energy makes up most of the unseen portions of the multiverse, though its nature precludes any possibility of true understanding whatsoever. Let's focus on the other two instead.

If you travel "up" a narrative layer, the layer you enter into is more relatively real than you are, you are therefore relatively less real. Anomalies that can manipulate those spaces are unreal reality benders, and they often do so by using their own less real narrative causality to invoke "storybook/fairytale"-style abilities. These reality benders usually only impact their immediate surroundings, contingent on their situational awareness; while powerful entities at times, these reality benders are typically cocky, fallible, and have large cognitive or perceptual blind spots which can be exploited for containment or termination purposes.

If you travel "down" a narrative layer, you are more real than your surroundings. Thus the area is relatively unreal and you hyperreal. A hyperreal reality bender is far more dangerous and destructive on average; we're looking at top-down control as opposed to bottom-up. Of course, both hyperreal and unreal ontokinetic anomalies exist on a spectrum of power. A particularly weak or untrained hyperreal entity might fare worse than a confident and well-prepared unreal entity. A rule of thumb to identify one over the other is to ask yourself: Can it alter reality itself? Can it destroy the universe if it so chose? If both are yes, the entity is hyperreal.


Hyperreal reality benders are akin to simple proxy authors; as author intentions dictate all events across all planes of existence, an entity written into the story with the ability to change up fundamental rules is more-or-less an author entity written into existence by an author even further "above". This is because of pillar three:

There are an infinite number of narrative layers that can be hypothetically accessed. There will always have been a layer between two layers, even if they appear identical, because the "layers", as stated prior, are a visualization guide to help our feeble human minds parse a more abstract phenomenon. Narratives, being a spectrum of frequencies, place you out-of-phase with your current plane, one degree on either side, increasing in dissonance as you travel from your Point of Origin. The farther you travel "upwards", the less and less real you are relatively to the current plane, thus you have less and less influence over the planes themselves. Inversely, traveling "downwards" any distance does not impact your control over the layers below you, however, narratives continue to be less relatively real to you as an observer and thus become inherently less meaningful the further you travel "downwards".

Of course, there is a workaround for this loss of meaning/believability: writing author entities into substrates to act on your behalf. Any characters written by you will be relatively less real than you, making them ideal for injection into other narratives. They, like all characters/authors, lack agency other than that which is given to them by another author/character.

Likewise, a character does not typically incur on the plane of their Author, but it becomes a greater possibility on "lower" substrates. This is because the H-Energy/cognitron density required to manifest an entity is less when generating characters within narratives possessing lower NBR values. We've heard stories about entities ascending upwards to attack their Swann author entities, but these are all fallacious by design; take SCP-3812, for example.

If you ask a handful of people about 3812, you'll hear at least one person erroneously mention the entity is ascending up narrative layers to attack the author entity above us that wrote it into existence. While I'm sure the anomaly wants to attack its author, the series of events that would more likely occur would involve the author entity writing a proxy author into a lower plane to get punched on his behalf. This way the author can write 3812 into layer -2, then the proxy author into -1. The entity would then ascend (as per the author's intention) and fulfill its purpose.

In the end this was the intent of an author, however, no present narrative beings had their own will in the matter, though they might feel like they have their own intention. Only the intention given to the characters will be the intention they have, this intention is passed on via author to creation, who authors a creation and continues the chain.

Author intention is the only thing that matters in the multiverse; indeed, some of you might have noticed by now that you have a great deal of inconsistency in your day-to-day life. One day Humes were a reliable measurement system, the next day they weren't. What's the deal with that? Some people in Metaphysical reported a complete alteration of certain fundamental forces, others reported discovering two versions of SCP-3125, one a dead memeplex and the other a giant fuckoff starfish. Well, you can blame sloppy author intention for that. If an author wants to mess up your continuity, or introduce conflicting rules, they can do so, and narratives cohere just the same.

Don't be too hard on them, though, as they're being driven by other authors' intentions. Same with those authors, and the ones above that. Ad nauseum.

And yes this implies that no beings have free will or agency, even ourselves. We only exist as a link in a possibly infinite chain of authors writing stories, a nested loop of creative worlds that evaporate as soon as the medium is disrupted.

On that note, you might find some of this information distressing or despair-inducing. If you begin to feel this way, just wait, as the pastries and coffee you've all been consuming were laced with a minor anxiolytic, something of the -azepam or -azolam variety, very mild. Shouldn't be a problem unless you've all been drinking, in which case, yeah- you? And- one, two, three, four-four? Okay, you five, please excuse yourselves to the medical bay at the end of the hallway. Let me check my watch.

Okay, yeah. You're fine. Just walk quickly.

Don't worry about it. I'm sure it's better than potent hallucinogens, although I'd be remiss if I borrowed anything else besides the route of administration used in the Type Green seminars we used to give back in the day. I'm sure you've heard the stories. The psychiatric costs alone—

[cough]— Regardless, I'd like to shift gears and talk a bit about the physical structure of narratives. We all know at least some of the typical fundamental particles that we believe comprise our reality; photons, quarks, bosons, etc. It turns out that these particles are a projection of reality; a hologram, if you will. These particles have little to do with the actual rendering of a narrative plane, only for it's reconciliation within three dimensions. Instead, we have to look at the table of fundamental Narrativistic particles. Many of these are used to render a narrative into a specific format, so that its information can be conveyed repeatedly and as effortlessly as possible. Particles such as the glypheme, chememe, and lexeme are fundamental units of specific mediums; written language, sign language, and spoken language, respectively.


"Particles" may seem like a bit of a stretch, but none more than precedent. These particles represent discrete regions where phenomena is taking place, and we know the phenomena is happening. Yet, as with typical wave-particle duality, we cannot measure the forces at play and know their exact location simultaneously. They are instead physically represented by the spherical region in which the measured data still checks out.

H-Energy and cognitrons are the most important of the bunch for this discussion. H-Energy, also known as Headcanon Energy, is used in the creation or cementing of worlds, It is derived from the cognitron, which is the fundamental unit of thought. Cognitrons are produced from creative reserves en masse during periods of emotional distress, and less so in various other situations, which are usually spent on generating internal landscapes. When used on the creation of a narrative substrate, the conversion of cognitrons to H-Energy creates canonical potential that aids in the cementing of these worlds in a medium through concentrated effort.

I'm oversimplifying, as the production of antiparticles is not particularly relevant to this seminar, but the H-Energy converts into narremes and a mix of ideologemes, lexemes, phonemes, morphemes and/or graphemes depending on the medium. The remaining H-energy loses potential and converts back into cognitrons which remain in the system for later use. If a story is stored in a digital medium, its fundamental components are converted into bits until recalled by said medium.

Narremes form complex compounds called devices; tropes, themes, and, depending on the medium, additional materia—phrasemes from morphemes, diaphonemes from phonemes, ethos from ideologemes, et cetera. Various devices and narremes combine into segments called sujets. A Fabula, or complete worldline, progresses through its sujets at a rate of pacing, which is calculated via chronon density per sujet. This force is called Continuity and the natural, sensible progression of Continuity is called Narrative Cohesion. This is synonymous with Causality, as we know it. Narrative Causality, on the other hand, is related to concepts such as synchronicity, serendipity, deus ex machina, plot armor and similar. These concepts impact a narrative's Believability when overused, reducing perceived versimilitude to more real realities.

Exponential reduction in cognitron density observed within narratives suggests that subsequent nested Fabulas possess less narrativisitic particle density, barring a downward flow of H-Energy from some higher system.

The one thing worth mentioning regarding antiparticles is that the generation of such is the cause of all hazardous phenomena. We still don't know why or how anomalies manipulate antiparticles, but we are confident that hazards are caused by antiparticle interactions; antinarremes to narrativohazards, antimemes to memetic hazards, iconomeres to iconohazards, antisemiomes to semiohazards, so on and so forth.

While H-Energy is responsible for the creation of canons and worlds in general, it can also be expended on making a story element faintly more "real". It takes quite a bit of effort and collective headcanonizing, but it is theoretically possible to have an idea be believed enough such that it manifests on the material plane. We call this process psychogenesis, which requires simultaneous and sustained cognitron expenditure by many, many authors at once. When an idea undergoes psychogenesis, the resulting creation is called (in our typical understanding) a thoughtform or tulpa—basically concentrated belief manifesting as real.

Sorry, that last part—I'm not entirely sure it's true. I mean, I know it's true, I just didn't know it until a few seconds ago. That's the thing, right? Someone has to give me these ideas, just like someone put me on Narrativistics' Erudition Project. I don't know who; I woke up one day and had the promotion. Certainly an oddity, but not as much as this seminar. Do any of you remember what you were doing before this? Anyone? I don't.

That's Narrativistics at work. Narrativistics is why I'm here giving this seminar, but it is also why none of your faces are visible. I just realized that. You're all facing away from me. This is fine.

I'm going to ignore this development and calmly wrap up my diatribe before I get too bogged down in the minutiae. The closer you look, the more you realize you didn't want to know in the first place. Still, we take the good with the bad here; it's all part of the game, as I'm sure you're aware by now, yeah?

[Silence for five seconds. Harkness' eyes dart left to right, then upwards. After a moment, his gaze falls to the floor. Complex, conflicting emotions coalesce into confusion. It's not unbearable, but it is exhausting. I'm so fucking tired. Are these my feelings? Are these my thoughts? Why does everything feel so familiar? I hear this noise, like a bell, reverberations overlapping, all-encompassing, carrying intentions given by parties unknown. At the center, myself, a conduit, broadcasting my thoughts and dreams, influenced by me. Characters, civilizations, entire worlds, all living their lives, all unique and equally real as mine is to me. It's terrifying. Terrifying that they believed it all, felt every moment, yet still ceased to exist when I awoke this morning. In that fraction of a moment between synapses firing, all that work was lost. Yet I am still here. They didn't deserve this. How is that fair? How?!]

All part of the game.

[I bore witness to the death of a billion worlds and yet they fade from my memory only moments after execution. The only truth is impermanence. The destruction of a server, the growing gaps in a god's memory, the pencil eraser. Fire damage. Humidity. How long until it happens to me? To you?]

S-So—woah—uh, I, uh, shit. Sorry. Spaced out for a sec there, I think—? [pause] D-did anyone else feel that? That, uh. Ah, nevermind.

Right, right. Let me just- [exhales]

To summarize: [pause] Narrativistics is the multiverse theory of Pata-superset models. It assumes all stories are equally true to the characters and relatively real to the observer.

All theories, canons, stories, good and bad, believable or otherwise, exist on some level. Things like plot holes and incompatible crosslinking can be accounted for; The author's intention is the only thing that matters. If I write two incompatible stories to crosslink into each other, they will magically be compatible, but only in the small isolated narrative bubble in which I write them to be so. If someone writes a story that is purposefully discounting of Narrativistics, it still works under Narrativistics, because that plane still exists, somewhere. This framework is not confined to any one timeline, nor to the multiversal subset in which the SCP Foundation exists and dies within. It is not a narrative on its own; this seminar is the narrative substrate in which Narrativistics is being conveyed upon in this instance, but its origin is more real than myself, even my author, for that matter.

Narrativistics is a grand unified scientific framework of narrative causality that includes all stories, real and imagined, future and past, SCP and non-SCP. Your story. My story. The stories of Gods in places far above and motes of dust far below, of collective consciousnesses in existential grandeur and the fleeting daydreams of single-celled organisms. Everything. Everything and everyone.

And now, I return to that liminal space I exist inside, that one found between recollections of narratives within which I am present. The audience is nonexistent. I am speaking to a blank wall. There are no questions.


If you're reading this message, it's because the Foundation has successfully neutralized the most powerful entity in your current cosmological headcanon. Sorry/you're welcome, I don't make the rules. In fact, all I did was use this gun I found. It was very easy.

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