Proairetic code

When the French statesman Talleyrand the Austrian diplomat Metternich queried “What did he mean by that?”.  Such is the relationship between the creator and the audience.  The audience knows that in this fictional world nothing happens by accident.  Any event, no matter how innocuously seeming, is liable to have some more significant purpose, and part of the fun for the reader is to stay alert to what that might be.  Proairetic code is the term coined by Roland Barthes to describe this phenomenon.  The uncertainty on the part of the audience about whether any event truly is or isn’t insignificant adds tension to a story.  Knowing this, of course, the creator can play around by introducing details which will have their audience wondering without having to commit themselves to anything explicitly.  We’ve used this on a couple of occasions, for example when ‘Paul’ and his son return home from fishing a bird appears to be following them suggesting that they are in some way under surveillance.  Carrying on with this animal theme, in the presence of De Bernis we had a cat playing with a mouse, perhaps a hint that De Bernis was involved in his own cat-and-mouse game.  When Bechard meets with ‘Paul’ in what you would expect to be a brief interview between a superior and an underling, it goes on just a bit too long and begins to raise suspicions (rightly so, in this case).


‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.

27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.


#proairetic #eighteenthcentury #graphicnovel #storytelling