Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Our Story

A thing

A bit of prophecy, you put a finger on the source of doom, and they block their ears, turn their backs on you and shamble off.
  Nothing for it but reason.  And what is reason?  It is a praxis, sethren.  Like bicycles, and we shall come to bicycles and reason later.  First, the narrative.
Demon    thing    act    concept    map narrative    praxis    Culture
  It said map there, but I’m torn between a map and a narrative.  They have much in common.  But I think the narrative is the bigger, so I’ll go for that.
  Let us quickly glance at the relationships so far.
  We know what a demon is, an irreducible blah blah blah.
  Next, thing.  A thing is everything out in the world that is perceivable, exemplified by remarking the things in the semi-circle a metre before your own eyes, as it might be pencil, notebook, cd, mug, elegant little tin box with hinged four-faceted lid, black white and bronze.
  An act is a kinetic four dimensional amplification of a sequence of alliances of demons.  Its kinesis can be strongly inhibited, as in the high-jumper’s run-up in her head before, to the eye of the observer, she moves a muscle.
  A concept is a derivative of a thing or an act, and so has two forms.
First, the derivative of the thing.  The thing from which the concept can be derived can either be in the world, or a demon in an ideoverse.  There is no in-the-world red triangle here, but you still have no difficulty in apprehending a red triangle as a locus of irreducible difference which is the summation of two other loci of irreducible difference, red, and triangle.
  Second, the concept that is the derivative of an act.  The act may be either kinetic as to mass in the world, or kinetic as to energy in an ideoverse and its neural substrate (but, with the given that we live in an E=mc2 universe, this either… or… is only superficial).  The one might be the archer’s concept of the flight of an arrow (Vygotsky’s natural concept), the other the mathematician’s concept of the flight of an arrow (Vygotsky’s scientific concept).
  A concept that is the derivative of an act rather than a thing is the sequential coupling and obligate linkage of  a series of concepts, any of which may and probably will themselves be composed of a series of concepts, possibly recursively until, once you get down to simple enough concepts, demons begin to appear.  If this sounds complex, that’s because it is.  Education is a process of the development and integration of concepts which are hierarchically interdependent.  That is why most three year olds will not only be unable to prove that the diagonal of a unit square is incommensurable, they will also be incapable of worrying with Pythagoras’s ghost that this might be the case.
  That is as far as we have come at the moment, sethren.  Now, the narrative.
  The narrative is a distributed locus of stability.  It is a structure that inhibits variation.  The praxis, just so we keep our bearings, has the reciprocal function.  The praxis is the biggest possible alliance in Evoculture, where variation can be prolific, and the selective processes themselves variable. 
  A narrative is an agglomeration of acts in the metaverse from which stories can be derived.  A story is an evolved selection from a narrative, arranged along one or several related time lines, with a coherence selected by its environment as a recognised conformity, at least partial, to the social, political, economic, technical and ethical situation at the time of its telling.  If I said, sethren, tell me about Romeo and Juliet, you’d probably come up with a story.
  The acts recounted in a narrative are disposed far more at random.  They are only loosely connected to any time line, and their beginnings and particularly their ends are inchoate.  They contain stories, often repeated in different forms, with variations, often inversions, often in your face contradictions.  They may contain tropes of extraordinary beauty.  Between the stories is a huge amount of what appears to the recipient who is not of the culture of origin of the narrative to be junk.  Within a narrative is often identifiable a claim of exceptionalism, ownership or being absolutely right about something.  Examples of narrative are the Old Testament, British  neo-liberal, in fact all neo-liberal Economic Policy, American foreign policy, Mein Kampf, The Book that shall be Nameless, any collected folk tales of a single ethnicity— particularly English, Facebook, any Imperial History, Bollywood, "African Culture", Coronation Street.  Some of these would be better company on a desert island than others.  Anybody who tells you the Old Testament is a great work of literature hasn’t read it.  It has the odd beautiful trope, and a few good stories.  Most of it is junk.
  As in the genome, narrative junk may not actually be junk.  It will have some complex quasi-epigenetic function in the evolution or the originating culture.  It’s just that if the originating culture has no presence in your ideoverse, the junk won’t function because it is unattractive to resident subset of Evoculture.  It does not signal to enough resident demons any potential for alliance and proliferation.  This in no way discourages Bible study classes of a fundamentalist bent all over the world, where instructions as to the necessity of genocide merely set a big screen flashing; Jesus Saves, Kill Sodomites.
  The evolved function of a narrative is to fix, in a photographic sense, and make permanent a landscape; a landscape either social, geographical, historical, political, economic, ethical, religious, or various combinations of all these things. 
  Narratives relate strongly to the survival of the originating and onward-transmitting hosts, their human population.  The more complete and coherent a culture is, and the more the case that a human carrier of that culture can be fully educated in every part of it, the more these components of the narrative can all be present and fused.  I know very close to nothing of the Australian Dreamtime before the interlopers arrived, but it sounds like the most complete narrative that has survived so far.
  Luncheon, my dears.

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