Thursday, December 28, 2006

The 36 canonical Plots

The other day, I was watching a show on originality ( or the lack of it) in Indian cinema. It was a kind of a debate with a few prominent theatre and film personalities. One of the participants commented that nothing much is original anyways, and even shakespeare quoted that there could be only 36 dramatic situations. The only thing original was the presentation. Anyways, the argument caught my fancy, and i tried to lookup something on google. The following is what i found, and as a true blue programmer simlply pasted it on this
space below. I figured if this one is about being original, why not do a copy/paste. Makes an interesting read.

The 36 canonical Plots

This is summarized from "The Thirty Six Dramatic Situations"
by Georges Polti, publ 1921.
Los Altos, Calif, library has it at 808.8024.
This book is translated from (probably) French or German, and
it is not at all clearly written.

The German writer Goethe said "Gozzi maintained that there can be
but 36 dramatic situations. Schiller took great pains to find more,
but was unable to find even so many as Gozzi." None of these three
goobers actually wrote down what the situations were. This is the
challenge that Polti took on in documenting these plots.

The situations can easily be combined, e.g. "Gone With the Wind" is
a combination of the 9th situation ("daring enterprises") and the
28th situation ("obstacles to love").

The 36 Dramatic Situations.

1. Supplication
(A Persecutor, a Supplicant, a Power in authority whose decision
is not yet known). Three sub-situations, A,B, and C.
A. The power whose decision is awaited is a distinct person. Will
he decide in favor of the persecutor or the supplicant?
B. The decision comes from the persecutor. Will it be anger or pity
that determines his course?
C. There's another person, the Intercessor, who implores the power on
behalf of the supplicant.

A.1 Fugitives imploring the powerful for help against enemies
A.2 Assistance implored for the performance of a pious duty which
has been forbidden.
A.3 Appeals for a refuge in which to die.

B.1 Hospitality sought by the shipwrecked
B.2 Charity entreated by those who have disgraced their own people
and been cast out.
Example: Adam and Eve
B.3 The seeking of pardon, healing or deliverance.
B.4 Seeking the handing over of a corpse or a relic

C.1 Imploring on behalf of someone dear to you
C.2 Imploring one relative on behalf of another
C.3 Imploring a mother's lover on behalf of the mother.

2. Deliverance
(An Unfortunate, a Threatener, a Rescuer)
A. Appearance of a Rescuer to the Condemned
B.1 A Parent Replaced on a Throne by His Children
B.2 Rescue by Friends or Strangers Grateful for Benefits or
Hospitality. This theme is no less than the story of Christianity.

3. Crime Pursued by Vengeance
(An Avenger and a Criminal)
A.1 The Avenging of a Slain Relative
A.2 Vengeance for a dishonored Relative, Friend, Lover, or
False Accusation
B.1 Vengeance for Intentional Injury or Spoilation
Shakespeare's "The Tempest"
B.2 Vengeance for having being robbed of one's due
Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice"
B.3 Revenge upon a whole sex for deception by One
Jack the Ripper (Bertrand & Clairian, 1899)
C.1 Professional Pursuit of Criminals
Sherlock Holmes

4. Vengeance Taken out on Relatives for Relatives
(Avenging kinsman, Guilty kinsman, memory of victim related to both).
A.1 Father's death revenged on mother
A.2 Mother's death revenged on father
B.2 Brother upon Son, Father upon Husband, Upon Mistress, Children,
Lover, etc.

5. Pursuit
(Punishment and Fugitive)
A.1 Fugitives from Justice pursued for Political Offenses, etc
B.1 Pursued for a fault of love
C.1 A Hero struggling Against a Power

6. Disaster
(A Vanquished Power, a Victorious Enemy or a Messenger)
A.1 Defeat suffered, Fatherland destroyed, natural catastrophe
B.1 A Monarch Overthrown
Shakespeare's Henry VI, and Richard II
C.1 Ingratitude Suffered, Outrage Suffered, Unjust Punishment
Shakespeare's King Lear
D.1 Abandonment by lover, husband, parent.

7. Falling Prey to Cruelty or Misfortune
(An unfortunate, a Master or a Misfortune)

8. Revolt
(Tyrant and Conspirator)

9. Daring Enterprise
(A Bold Leader, an Object, an Adversary)

10. Abduction
(The Abductor, the Abducted, the Guardian)

11. The Enigma
(Interrogator, Seeker, Problem)

12. Obtaining
(A seeker and an adversary who is refusing, or an
Arbitrator and Opposing Parties)

13. Enmity of Relatives
(a malevolent relative, a hated or reciprocally-hating relative)

14. Rivalry of Relatives
(The preferred relative, the rejected relative, the object)

15. Murderous Adultery
(Two adulterers, and the Betrayed Spouse)

16. Madness
(Madman, Victim)

17. Fatal Imprudence
(The Imprudent, The Victim or the Object Lost)

18. Involuntary Crimes of Love
(The Lover, the Beloved, the Revealer)
A.1 The discovery that one has married mother, sister, etc

19. Slaying of a Relative Unrecognized
(The Slayer, the Unrecognized Victim)

20. Self-Sacrificing for an Ideal
(The Hero, the Ideal, the "Creditor" or the Person or Object

21. Self-Sacrificing for a Relative
(The Hero, the Relative, the "Creditor" or the Person or Object
A.1 Life sacrificed for that of a relative or loved one.
B.1 Ambition sacrificed for a parent's happiness

22. All Sacrificed for a Passion
(The Lover, the Object of the Fatal Passion, the Person or Object

23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones
(The Hero, the Beloved Victim, the Necessity for the Sacrifice)

24. Rivalry of Superior and Inferior
(The Superior Rival, the Inferior Rival, the Object).

25. Adultery
(Two adulterers, and the Betrayed Spouse)
How is this different, except in degree, from "Murderous Adultery"?

26. Crimes of Love
(The Lover, the Beloved).

27. Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One
(The Discoverer, the Guilty One).

28. Obstacles to Love
(Two Lovers; an Obstacle)

29. An Enemy Loved
(The Beloved Enemy, The Lover, The Hater)
A.1 The Loved One hated by relatives of the Lover
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
B.1 The Beloved is the Slayer of his Lover's father, mother, brother...
Romeo and Juliet is this plot, modified by plot 10 (Abduction,
or here, elopement) then with triple effect, plot 36 (loss
of loved ones). The first loss of loved ones is mistakenly, then
simply, then actually and doubly and simultaneously and undoubtedly
with a cherry pom-pom on top too, to both the families of the loved ones.

30. Ambition
(An Ambitious Person, a Coveted Object, an Adversary)
A.1 Ambition Watched and Guarded Against by a Relative or
Patriotic Friend
"Julius Caesar" by Shakespeare

31. Conflict with a God
(A Mortal, an Immortal)
A.1 Struggle against a deity
B.1 Controversy with a deity

32. Mistaken Jealousy
(The Jealous One, the Object Whose Possession he is Jealous Of,
the Supposed Accomplice, the Cause or the Author of the Mistake)
A.1 The mistake originates in the suspicious mind of the jealous one
Shakespeare's Comedy Of Errors
B.1 Jealousy suggested by a Traitor moved by Hatred
Shakespeare's Othello and Much Ado about Nothing
C.1 Reciprocal Jealousy suggested to both spouses by a rival.

33. Erroneous Judgement
(The Mistaken One, the Victim of the Mistake, the cause or Author
of the Mistake, the Guilty Person)
A.1 False suspicion where faith is necessary
Beowulf and the death of the big dog.
B.1 False suspicion drawn on oneself to save a friend
C.1 The Accusation is allowed to fall on an enemy

34. Remorse
(The Culprit, the Victim or the Sin, The Interrogator)
A.1 Remorse for an unknown crime
B.1 Remorse for a fault of love

35. Recovery of a Lost One
(The Seeker, the One Found)
A.1 similar to situation 9
second part of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale and Pericles

36. Loss of Loved Ones
(A relative slain, a relative who witnesses, an executioner)
A.1 Witnessing the slaying of relatives while powerless to
prevent it.
Part of the film "The Usual Suspects"
B.1 Divining the Death of a Loved One
C.1 Learning of the Death of a Kinsman or Ally.


So much for drama! You often hear the same thing said about jokes,
that there are only 12 (or 6 or 9 or 7) basic jokes, and every joke
in the world is a variant of one of these.
Maybe that's true, and the jokes are word surprise (spoonerism or
pun, like the lazy teacher who gave us a bad spell of "whether"), object
surprise (practical joke), people surprise (I didn't do what you
expected me to do) etc etc. Surprise is the critical element of humor.

No surprise, no humor. That's why jokes aren't funny when you've
already heard them once. If you write me a big research grant, I'll
do some more thinking along these lines.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fuji Q Highland Resort

It was the company quarterly outing the last weekend, and a trip to fuji-q highland park was planned. The fuji-q highland is an amusement park with all kinds of rides.
Details about Fujikyu Highland -attractions, map, etc...

The trip was planned on a sunday, so we were supposed to wake up early and get to shinjuku bus station at 9. Thanks to some late night t.v and unexpected calls from India, we barely managed to make it before 9.00 a.m. The Bus ride was a pretty pleasant one, and we reached the place about 11.15 a.m. After goofing around a bit at the gates, doing the usual "I am a tourist, I click photographs everyhwere" routine, we got our day passes, which would enable us to all the rides. The first sight that caught my fancy on entering was the giant roller coaster. I am going to call myself moderately decent at clicking photographs (blame it on the kodak !!! Need to buy a nikon d50). So you can see the pics of the park on the link below.

or type "fuji q images" on google to get search results.

On entering the park, we were left pretty much on our own. We got in line for the first ride on entering the park, which should have been skipped, as it was a go-kart which barely had speed on it. I mean even i could have outrun it when it was running at maximum speed. O.k, not for the whole stretch, but I am sure I would have beaten it at the 100 m dash. And we waited for almost 30 minutes to get into that. All this time, i could hear people scream in the roller coasters.

I am not a big roller coaster fan, never been. It does not excite me at all. Infact, back home you would have to pay me to get in a giant wheel. And they are almost miniature models of the ones back here. I do have a mild case of vertigo, although that has never been confirmed. I first realized that when I went up a water tank with someone during my college days. Heights don't freak me out, but I just kinda start feeling giddy up there. And here I was, in front of one of the largest roller coasters in the world, wondering I must be crazy to even think about. I was later informed by a friend that he has been to this place thrice, but never ridden the big roller coaster. But i say, what the heck, If i am gonna do it only once in a lifetime, let this be it.

So i grabbed a chili dog and stood in line. It was a pretty long queue, as it was a sunday and everybody wanted to ride this one. I was munching on my chili dog, in the hope that it would give me some kind of sickness so that I could chicken out. After a little more than an hour, We finally arrived at the starting option. I actually had the option of riding in the first seat. yeah, right, like I was gonna do that the very first time !!! There was a chicken way at the very top, which seemed very tempting, but I had my mind fixed that I was gonna do this one. I got in on the third seat from the front, which did not seem that scary. The ride started slowly, and i already was feeling the state of things to come. It ended in less than two minutes, much to my delight. I was screaming all the way down, up and whichever way it went. They also have a camera on one point , so you could have a photograph of you on the ride. I sure have a copy of that one.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on roaming around the resort. I sat in the huge giant wheel , but even that gave me the jitters. And then it was time to hit the ice rink !!!. After a few falls ( a couple of really bad ones) and almost 2 hours , i managed to make a small video clip of me Ice Skating. It looks pretty cool on the video, but balancing your whole body on those two blades was quite a task. But as famously quoted "Mein to India ke liye bana hi nahi"
Soon it was dark and time to leave. We got on the bus and i crashed after one beer. My feet were killing me and I had to go to work the next day.
Tip :- Do not try ice skating, if you have to go to work the next day.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I was there !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Watching U2 live was a mind blowing experience. And thats all i have to say about it. It is not something to write about or read about. You have to be there. Just posting the set played during the show.

Main Set: City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo - She Loves You, Elevation, I Will Follow, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Beautiful Day - Sgt. Pepper's, Window In The Skies, Walk On (acoustic), Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, Bad - 40, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet The Blue Sky, Miss Sarajevo, Pride, Where the Streets Have No Name, One

Encore(s): The Fly, Mysterious Ways, With or Without You, The Saints are Coming, Angel of Harlem, One Tree Hill

Comments: Window in the Skies makes its live premier