Metalepsis means moving from outside to inside a diegesis (or vice versa). In narrative environments it is usually used to refer to the process by which the narratee moves (is moved) from the extradiegetic to the intradiegetic position. This is typically caused by eliciting participation/performance/performativity in the story, commonly through interaction between the visitor and the space or objects within a narrative environment. This interaction can be through digital technology, but not necessarily so. The fact that in a Narrative environment the narratee is typically physically inside the physical storyworld – it is then a short step to draw their mind into the storyworld too; thus metalepsis is a very powerful tool and it can evoke a heightened emotional state, so it needs to be handled with care.
Referencing narratology: Genette (1980) didn’t like metalepsis: ”The most troubling thing about metalepsis indeed lies in this unacceptable and insistent hypothesis, that the extradiegetic is perhaps always diegetic, and that the narrator and his narratees – you and I – perhaps belong to some narrative” (Genette, G. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca: Cornell UP (1980) page 236).
This doesn’t bother us: in a sense, we pretty much consider this to be the case in narrative environments, where the diegesis typically is constituted of things that exist in the real world.
Here’s an example of metalepsis in a short film: as the narrator walks along, elements from the story he’s telling appear on the side of the path. The Man Who Walked Around the World
For further discussion of metalepsis see my essay: Louis, Mr Dog and Rabbit: metalepsis in an interactive narrative. Originally published in: R. Aylett et al. (Eds.): ICIDS 2010, LNCS 6432, pp. 248–251, 2010. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
edited 4 September, 2018 by Allan Parsons