24 May 2007

Perfect Thirty-Six

When I was a kid, I watched Channel 36 from San Jose. This was the miracle of cable television! Dozens of channels! At the time, the Carol Doda, the stripper, was a sort of Bay Area celebrity, and she did the ads for channel 36, calling it "the perfect 36." Never mind that her equipment was closer to 46, it was Carol Doda & The Perfect 36. Speaking of Thirty-Six, did you know there are only 36 plots in fiction? At least Georges Polti thinks so, and he claims neither Goethe nor Schiller could find more. I have a book I rescued from a dust bin somewhere called The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, authored by the aforementioned Mr. Polti (translated by Lucille Ray), copyright 1916. Wikipedia has a nice little summary of the book and the XXXVI plot variants. (For all its flaws and frustrations, Wikipedia is a damned useful thing, and I'm on it all the time. One of these days I'm going to "author some content" for the site.) I find the book to be very helpful, not necessarily as a "plot generator" although it is a good one for that, but as a reference to the world of classical and Renaissance drama. All the dramatic situations, the Big XXXVI, are cross-referenced in the back of the book to actual examples. It was Polti who got me interested in Euripides and the Greek tragedians. Great stuff there for noir writers.
a.d. IX Kal.Iun.

1 comment:

Ken in B'ham said...

How interesting! If drama imitates life, then that must say something about daily lives. 36 variations?