Reading: Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard.
Goffman was a sociologist, but he wrote like a philosopher. In Frame Analysis he pushes some ideas out pretty far, thinking about how many frames within frames can be embedded in a social context before it passes our ability to understand. One of the clearer examples involves a play whose characters are themselves actors, rehearsing a scene in a play-within-the-play. Who are these people “really,” and what is the proper context for interpreting their actions? Aside from the “proper” context, what happens when participants in such a scene have different interpretations among themselves? How can they sort it out? And what happens if they don’t?
Goffman pushed this idea pretty far, but David Cross and Bob Odenkirk pushed it further.