A Meditation on Story:
Filling the Universal Semantic Space
with Meaning and Moral
These are conjectures on the concept of story.
We humans, like most of the living creatures on Earth, are involved in space-filling. Our lives do not take straight, linear trajectories. If we could graphically record our lives as we live them through Euclidean space, they would show that we drift. Maturana and Varela have written of this, the drift of life (See Autopoiesis and Cognition, 1982).
I suspect that the history of our lives also would show another kind of space-filling, that of the Semantic Space in which we strive to create meaning. One of the things that may distinguish us from most of the other animals on the planet, is our lingual-semantic drive, the search to understand and be understood through language.
This piece then is about both of these variables: the narrative, and the need to fill semantic space as an aspect of our being alive, sentient, and self-referential.
The narrative, the story metaphor, has captured the imagination of the fields of psychology, social work, and family therapy in a way that would have been hard to imagine just a few decades ago.
Reacting to a strong structural/strategic movement replete with paradox, family therapy sought new voices and embraced the writings of Atwood, J., Anderson and Goolishian; Gergen and Gergen; and White and Epston.
These writers tended to espouse a new narrative‑based therapy, one that honored the uniqueness and diversity of each client's story, rather than those models that sought to reduce any story to fit a pre‑formed theoretical pattern.
It was the move from mechanism to semanticism, from structure to meaning.
The following meditation plays with these ideas.
None of this is written in stone. I am playing here with ideas and hope you might enjoy doing the same.
This is a meditation on the concept of story as it is situated within the semantic space, a space in which we search for meaning. The purpose of such a meditation, if there is one, is to allow us to dwell deeply and in a non goal‑oriented manner in the one concept...story. This purposeful non‑purposiveness is a quest for awareness and appreciation above any hint of reductionism. While polemics certainly abound here, there is no final note, or final decision to be derived. It is all about incredibly numerous and various interpretations and their resultant meanings.
Note how such a meditation is a testament to all the postmodern theories about reflexivity in meaning. The possibility of stating a perfectly satisfactory phrase one moment and immediately disqualifying it in the next. The sign and its destruction in a polar opposite sign are all part and parcel of postmodernism. On some level we can accept it all, so long as we can continue to evolve contexts within which each statement might somehow make sense.......yield meaning.
In all of the following ideas and comments we owe a great debt to the works of Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, Niklaus Luhmann, Kenneth Gergen, John Shotter, Sheila McNamee, Benoit Mandelbrot, Rudy Rucker, Richard Dawkins, Ed Fredkin, Joan Atwood, and others. I bow to them all as my mentors, and thank them for their wisdom.
You will note redundancies in my meditation. Like all meditations there are themes that I think about and write about again and again. This is purposeful, and may be seen as a kind of punctuation. Repetition and learning often are co-terminus.
A Meditation on the Concept of Story
(It may be useful to read a few lines, and then look away and allow yourself to wonder, go inside, conjecture, etc. before moving on to the next set of statements. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed if you just dive and and read this as if it were a story.)
There’s a story
There’s a story and it stands by itself
There’s a story and it’s the complete story
There’s a story and it is wholly independent
There's a story behind a story.
There's a story within a story.
There's a story before a story.
There's a story after a story.
There's a story about a story.
There's a story over (covering) a story.
There's a story under (substantiating) a story.
A story opens up spaces of meaning.
A story closes down spaces of meaning.
A story creates boundaries.
A story creates beliefs.
A story limits what we can know.
A story expands what we can know.
A story changes who we are.
A story embeds us into who we are.
A story stabilizes who we are.
A story aims somewhere and has trajectory.
A story aims at the infinite (through its moral), yet can never arrive.
A story aims at itself, while seeming to aim outward.
A story convolutes even as it seems to have an outward goal.
A story is both selfless and utterly self‑involved.
A story winds itself through semantic space.
A story creates semantic space.
A story destroys meaning for some readers while enhancing
it for others.
A story is a reflexively curvilinear semantic structure. That is,
it reflexes and curves and winds its way along its trajectory.
The universal semantic space defines the shape and trajectory of all possible stories.
The semantic space is that space which confines meaning even as it seems to expand it.
The semantic space is a curved space of infinite variety and complexity.
The semantic space is similar to those physical spaces arising out of projected hyper-cubes and hyper-spheres in theoretical geometry. And perhaps even more so, the semantic space seems deeply related to the processes of fractal geometry.
Some stories seem to wind themselves into unsolvable knots. Knots are all the rage in theoretical mathematics because of their intrinsic trickery and surprise. Did you know there are mathematicians whose doctoral dissertations are on knots?
So, we have trajectory.....curvilinearity.....paradox.....and knots all possible and probably in any story.
All stories are projections of the possibilities inherent within being human, living with and among other humans.
All stories are thus meta to the act of living in the here and now.
Stories are commentaries about, never the thing in and of itself.
All stories are projections onto there and then.
All stories remove us from the here and now.
The only story that arises in the here and now is that spoken in the first person singular present tense. But even those words are meta to the act of living, and thus still commentary.
Words and actions do not arise simultaneously.
All human performances without words could still be described as stories if we allow performatives to be presentations to another.
Buddhistic focus on moment to moment breathing thus is an attempt to allow us a relief from story.
The semantic space is complex and convoluted, although it is generally assumed to be lineal.
The semantic space consists of invisible but powerful forces that continue to define and re-define spaces of meaning.
The complexity of the semantic space curvatures is given by the nature of the social fabric, social textures, and social interaction.....the entirety of human discourse itself.
The semantic space might be imagined as the results of......
(All possible contexts) X (All possible utterances) X (All possible performatives)
If we understood the semantic space better, we might construct languages and interactions which fit it, instead of those we have now which seem to fight it.
Imagine for instance if we stopped arguing over who said what, and instead only focused on the varieties of contexts within which the statements were uttered.
It would seem that a next stage in our evolution as bio-linguistic beings would be the move from speech acts to contexts of speech acts.
Misunderstanding and confusion arise in the paradoxes created by attempting to lay lineal notions upon a curved semantic space.
Paradox is created through a misunderstanding of context; and/or the collapse of temporal variables.
When time is collapsed, humans are unable to solve problems.
Solutions are always dependent upon the sequential set:
t1......t2......t3......t4. These cannot be crushed to 0. Or we'll have no hope of having meaningful discourse, and meaningful solutions to issues and problems.
Until we learn to curve language as we have learned to carve a curved semantic space, we are doomed to confusion, misunderstanding, anger, and ultimately...war.
War arises is the ultimate product of lineal upsmanship statements overlain upon curved semantic-political space.
Or..... War arises out of the sum of all statements with no appreciation, recognition, or acceptance of the huge varieties of contexts within which these statements arise.
Every war arises out of the misunderstanding that when we win over another state, we instantly lose as well.
We are neanderthals of contextual comprehension, yet we make demands and give orders to the "other." We are so infantile that we actually come to believe that our own context is the only context that exists.
We presently do not seem able to see over the epistemological horizon.
That is, we cannot see what we are incapable of seeing, even though it is right in front of us.
Visionaries are those rare ones who can see clearly what others are not yet able to see. These few become the leaders forward and enable us to evolve toward an adult mankind.
We are far from having achieved this, although there is hope.
We see stuck in a Win/Lose paradigm in our language and our stories. This is an example of knot constructed on polemics.
When discourse breaks down into polemics, it becomes an endless set of back and forth "moves." And no motion. Evolution ceases for these episodes.
It cannot be otherwise. The very word "winning" is problematic in and of itself.
Stories of "winning" are inevitably stories of "losing."
The infinitely curved, and self-referential semantic space makes this so.
Yet we go on with lineally based stories as if this were not the case.
We are indeed blind to this process.
Every story is new, yet every story has been told before.
A story is the embodiment of perpetual novelty through invariance.
A story is a method for carving up time through creating distinctions.
A story arises directly from the First Law of Form (G. Spencer‑Brown)
The formal arrangement of observer, phenomenal response, word, noun, verb...
...of description, explanation, narrative, belief system, paradigm, and world view indicates a formalism that is beyond Chomsky and beyond Mandelbrot.
Our languaging is a function of the interplay of fractal dynamics and biological emergence upon semantic/syntactic/geo-political systems of meaning.
All resulting in a world of hermeneutic enterprise.
A story's potential for change varies as its register changes.
A story's register is its affective use within a specified group of narrators.
A story arrives.
A story locates its teller and its characters.
A story locates all of us in space.
A story locates us in context.
A story constructs the experience of time.
Stories are time machines.
A story is an historical moment in a sea of timeless interactions.
A story is an experience filter.
A story allows only those elements of life which we can utilize in one way or another.
A story is an experience structurer.
A story re‑constructs raw experiences and phenomena in such a way that we can derive meaning from them.
A story frees people from their former constraints.
A story subjugates people and disempowers them.
A story symptomatizes and pathologizes human actions.
A story simultaneously frees and subjugates.
A story creates illnesses.
A story heals.
A story takes away pain, even as it gives it.
A story creates monsters and villains....all in the same breath.
A story can never finally finish. Another turn, another detail, another description always lies just ahead.
A story can never finally finish. Another narrator, another audience, another character, another action lies just ahead.
The meaning of any story continues far beyond the intention of its initial narrator.
A story elicits responses.
A story elicits joy and hope.
A story elicits criticism.
A story is a critiqe encapsulated within the words of a describer.
A story offers us pain/pleasure, hope/yearning, past/future, love/hate, sacrifice/violence.
A story tells us over and over again about our condition...the human condition.
All stories are the same story....the story of the human condition.
Every story is, on some level, a love story.
Every story loves life, even life with all its pain.
No story has ever run from suffering.
No story has ever run from heroism.
No story has ever run from disaster.
A young child’s sad eyes are all the unspoken beauty of any story.
Every story is a political statement.
Every story is a morality play.
Morality and politics are the same terms in differing scale orders.
A story is a semantic nest.
A story captures meanings and holds them in place.....for a time.
It is our safe little construction
A place for meaning to reside....or hide.
A story arises out of the style of its own telling.
Exact repeated narrations of the same story to different audiences yield different stories.
No two people hear the same meaning in a given story.
It is the audience which gives the story its meaning, neither the narrator nor the author.
And the greatest audience of all for the individual is the Family.
The Family Story, the Family's Grand Narratives, are those that most propel
and most imprison each member.
To comment upon one's story to the general populace is one thing,
To comment upon one's story to one's family is quite another.
The one story we cannot escape from is the story of our family.
Whereas the greatest story of all for the citizen is the story of one’s native country.
And the greatest story for the true believer is the story of one's religion and faith.
Some stories perforce are constituted of opposites.
The story of a hero most often resides within the story of tragedy....as does true love.
The story of true love cannot exist without the danger of loss, separation, and death. True love arises from these subthemes.
So, how can a truly loving family not constitute tragic symptoms?
Their story would be incomplete without them....perhaps even banal, or comfortable.
How does a national hero arise without a war to conquer?
Ah....all those lives for the subtheme of a story...what a national shame that we can find no great meaning without great horror.
We neanderthals of emotion. We ache for the opera of war at the cost of actual, genuine, lives.
The drama of this war story in us overtakes our cooperative biology far too often.
Every story is co‑authored by its narrator and its auditors.
No two stories have ever been identical.
Every story is saturated with ethical and moral implications.
Any two people who come together to talk poorly of a third are steeped in an ethical and moral morass.Once those two begin to create a debased character as they speak of the third person, they are committing a sin of mis-creation.
Their telling becomes that person.
They should assume moral responsibility for the identity violence they have co-created.
When two others speak about you, they don't just tell a story about you, they create a new you. They create some aspect or nuances about you which gets passed on to other people.
You are socially re‑created in these re‑tellings.
What then are the moral implications of speaking ill of another?
What more profound way can we characterize evil?
No one re‑tells a story, not once, not ever.
Every telling of a story is anew. It only has hints of its former tellings.
Every re-telling has a different narrator, a different audience, a different
context, and therefore every telling has different meanings.
All stories have shape, they have form.
To some extent, the shape of the story is the story.
To some extent, the style is the content.
To extract content from process is always a reductionist enterprise,
and thus creates a new story about the original story...a meta narrative.
Stories formally fold in upon themselves.
Stories tell themselves in these enfoldings.
Stories love themselves and are self-replicating.
Narrators are the interlocutors of stories,
they are neither necessary nor sufficient.
We need at least narrator and audience
for the discourse of story to come alive
(Even if these each are the self-same person!)
The human story goes on with or without us, we can be a part of it, or apart from it.
When we set ourselves as apart from the story, we do ourselves the ultimate disservice.
To decide not to be a part of the story, is to decide not to mean.
Without meaning there is very little....only the story of meaninglessness.
The story of meaninglessness could become a great story.
Meaninglessness may be the greatest subject because, in its negation, it focuses powerfully on the final product of all story....meaning.
In its cybernetic emptiness, we yearn even more for meaning within a context of meaninglessness.
To focus on emptiness evokes the greatest fullness.
Stories are self‑similar entities. (Each story is like all other stories.)
Stories are self‑affine entities. (Each story tends to have an affinity for itself.)
Stories unfold endlessly, and go on unfolding long after their telling.
A story's meaning unfolds far beyond the time, place, or intention of its narrator.
Since meaning can only arise out of content within context, then all phrases of a story become content and context for each other.
Content and context are intimately entwined in an infinite dance of co-implication.
Stories nest other stories, as well as their characters.
We all tell our own stories, using others as our characters.
We all are characters in other people's stories.
The stories that have greatest impact upon us are those in
which we are seen to be either villains or heroes.
Stories of our heroism create no problems, no symptoms,
no pathology. They empower us.
Stories of our weaknesses create all our problems, symptoms,
and pathology. They crush us.
Stories of our ineptitude or weaknesses become equivalent to stories of our villainy.
Weakness of character in a story is similar to being constructed as the villain.
Strength of character is close to being constructed as the hero.
Overcoming a former weakness within a story is emotionally dramatic heroism.
Each story's hero/villain pattern constructs a morality play.
When we see ourselves as villains, it may be that someone else has scripted a story and needs a villain for it.
Thus if we play the part of villain for them, are we truly villain or hero?
What great story has ever been written without a villain?
What great story has ever been written without the vanquishing
of some tyranny or moral decay?
Thus, we must all take our part over time as either the heroes or the villains, in order for the human story to survive.
We have not evolved enough to conceive of an interesting story with no pain, no grief, no dilemma, no villain, no moral problem.
The very idea of an exciting, interesting story with no profound problem to overcome is absurd at our present stage of evolution.
We are primitive creatures neuro-linguistically.
We allow language to cannibalize us.
This may be the greatest human dilemma in the construction of reality through stories: the intense need of a problem.
Or is it simply the intense need of a problem “in language?”
If we had no problem, could we go on playing the “language game?”
Does Wittgenstein’s language game ever have a winner?
How does one play the language game? No that’s not the question!
How does one not play the language game? That’s the real question!
Are there ever stories of problems outside of that which is languaged?
Is there pain outside of the story of pain? You say yes, but are you sure?
Does not the story of pain increase or decrease it?
Do we not language our health, and language our pain?
We are very primitive creatures in our semantic constructions.
Yet, we are very creative creatures in our techno structures.
We may need to focus our creativity now on semantic structures of meaning that require no evil, no villain, no enemy.
We may need to construct a satisfying semantic of a non‑reflexive nature and shape.
We yearn to write our own stories, and spend most of our lives attempting to become our own authors.
The greatest symptoms arise when we cannot find a way to become benevolent characters in our own parents' stories.
No story can rise above this one story...the story of the human condition.
The condition of being born into a story is a reality we cannot escape.
But it is a reality we can reconfigure endlessly as our story unfolds over time.
Stories construct moral and immoral actions, as moral and immoral actions construct stories.
A story's morality arises out of its penchant for symmetry.
It is the incessant human penchant for symmetry that drives our stories and our sense of meaning.
Semantic symmetry is as necessary for humans as physical symmetry is for a sphere, a droplet of water.
No matter what horror or beauty is portrayed by an author it is a story's symmetry that wins us over in the end.
It is not perfect symmetry, but near symmetry that wins us over, for a story of perfect symmetry would seem too simple, too direct, too mathematic. Banal.
We love near symmetry in most things. Consider the beauty of a reed attempting to grow straight, then being ever so gently bent by the breeze.
The rigidly straight reed is in perfect symmetry, while the reed bent by the breeze is in near symmetry.
All art, all beauty would seem to arise from near symmetry.
Great stories situate themselves on the edge of chaos.
Juxtaposed between static constraint and complete chaos,
the edge of chaos is where the greatest beauty and meaning dwell.
All things biological thrive and evolve only on the edge of chaos.
Just as biological life lives on the edge of chaos,
so too, our stories seem to come alive when
we author them on the edge of chaos.
The edge of chaos is a region between over predictability
and chaotic randomness.
Too much stability and the story bogs down in rigidity,
Too much randomness and chaos, the story becomes impossible
to follow, it loses all coherence...pure dissipation.
A good story is a living entity, and it takes
its cue from the living creatures who compose it: humans.
Human life is lived on the edge of chaos.
The edge of chaos is where creativity and play are
at their highest for humans.
The edge of chaos is the richest region
for novelty and possibilities.
Our greatest meanings, our greatest joys and sorrows,
arise out of a mixture of stability and instability.
Meaning emerges out of the perpetual
flux and random possibilities inherent in
that sweet semantic area bounded by stability
It is the human penchant for symmetry that is
our greatest triumph and our greatest downfall.
We are seduced by this search for symmetry all the time.
The search for truth is the ultimate search for symmetry.
The ultimate truth, if it existed, would be a perfect equivalence.
The ultimate equivalence term: the verb "to be."
This verb draws an equal sign between these entities.
We attempt symmetry all the time, and fail at it all the time.
We believe that once we know the truth,
we will know it for all cases, all times.
We fail to see the utter historicity of our stories, our
truths, and our lives.
Thus, the left side of the equation would equal the right side
in a one‑to‑one ratio of perfect symmetry.
The search for truth arises out of the belief that life has
Purpose is a teleological concept which may not exist
in any way in the domain of biological life,
but certainly exists in the domain of story.
If life is without purpose but not without meaning, then what?
Do we need to construct a world of right/wrong,
good people/bad people in order to search for truth?
Is it better to search for truth by killing in war,
or is it better to seek wisdom instead?
Is the story of wisdom the story of truth?
Is truth not a construction designed for a fight?
Once we posit a truth, then there must be an un‑truth.
At that point we have only two worlds, true and false. And
in this simple, simple world we can now fight over
who owns the "real" truth ad nauseam.
Every war arises out of the story within which it is contained.
War is, of course, the evil it purports to vanquish.
War’s utter absurdity is that it is fight fighting itself.
In war, no one wins except those who semantically constructed it in the first place.
Wars open up great states of ripe context for creating huge emotion-filled
meanings....like “we are heroes, they are monsters."
Stories force us to decide.
The most intriguing stories force us to decide among
Every story is a “proof” of Godel’s Theorem ad nauseam.
Great stories force us to decide through ambivalence and ambiguities.
Great stories leave us awestruck at recognizing that we are
situated in an impossible location, our own world.
We are struck always by the same chords in story: hope/despair.
We are struck by the trite and universal, the profane and the
Stories allow us to make scalar leaps in our thinking,
our imagining, and our dreaming.
Stories construct hierarchies where there are none.
Stories can flatten out hierarchies which had seemed
insurmountable and ubiquitous.
A great story taunts us with eternity while simultaneously
guaranteeing our temporal deaths.
A great story aches for peace, justice, and life everlasting,
even if those are not its apparent themes.
Most religions and beliefs are based on the intrinsic human ache
for that which we can know about but can never achieve.
In the beginning there was the Wor(l)d.
Word and world become one in this narrative worldview.
We are embodied stories.
We are designed to author stories by our very biological structure.
Stories construct our neurological interconnections as
our neurological interconnections construct stories.
We enfold stories, as they enfold us.
Humans and their stories, stories and their humans: a self‑reflexing dance of duality.
Stories are ultimately social engines of meaning.
These are the engines which produce entire societies,
and these societies in turn develop greater and more
powerful engines of meaning.
Stories create societies so that societies can go on constructing stories.......etc.
Stories and Societies are part of the same Mobius Strip,
all part of an endless figure eight, all on the same side, endlessly.
The purpose of every society is autopoietic, it is
to continue to form itself, using its own constitutive
parts and devices.
These story engines arise from interactions with other humans
similarly constituted, and then drive them to do the same.
It is the coupling of human to human that produces stories
of great power, great elegance, great mystery, great sadness.
A FRACTAL LOGIC OF STORIES
Stories are the fundamental human semantic processes
which elicit transitory emergent features... which we call meaning.
Meaning is an emergent feature of a story, it is neither truth nor proof.
Meaning is a dissipative feature of human interaction and human stories.
Meaning has no final goal, nor can meaning ever be final.
Meaning is being infinitely constructed, adhered to,
and dissipated by human bio‑social processes.
These processes are narrative, scripted, and performed processes.
Meaning is ultimately evanescent.
Since meaning arises out of interactions which repeat,
it may be imagined as having a form: a fractal edge.
A fractal edge is one that is emerging all the time
through an infinite iterative process.
Iterative processes are those that repeat over and over again,
each time adding in the result of the last repetition.
If fractal geometry models other natural systems,
why not include it here to model human meaning construction
At the level of metaphor, we introduce such notions as chaos,
emergence, fractals, nesting, scalar levels, self‑similarity,
iteration, etc. into the domain of languaging while fully
recognizing that we are borrowing from geometry/topology?
There is a topology to stories and to meaning.
It is the topology constructed within the
universal semantic space.
The universal semantic space is the totality
of all possible human meanings.
Topological and spatial metaphors for stories and meaning
may be justified so long as we agree that the spaces
are not Euclidian Dimensions.
The universal semantic space can be conceived as
collectively held projected semantic domains.
Such spaces may prove important for understanding
the relations of humans to each other and the relations of
discourses to each other.
LeFebvre and others have written of the construction of
spaces by humans within their discourses.
Such constructed, semantic spaces are both containers
and expanders of possibilities for movement and thought
within the shared human condition.
Not to do so would disengage us from the very processes by which
we make leaps in our thinking. It would disengage us from the
analogy. To render analogies having no use is to throw out the
very ferment of our imagination as engines of analogy.
It has been postulated that humans are not only homo sapiens,
but that humans are also homo analogens, i.e., analogizing beings.
Perhaps this is a subset of the notion that humans are
homo projectens, i.e., projecting beings.
It seems to be our ability to project one level of cognition
into another level, or mix levels by cross projection, that we
come up with marvelously inventive answers to problems, and the
incredible complexity of the discourses of societal organization.
I do not know if other species either analogize, or project.
But it is clear that we humans do this both in and outside the
domains of languaging.
As social beings, it is finally the social intercourse constitutive
of our structural couplings which determines the fate of
our analogies and our projections.
Our morality as social beings is determined by the amount
of pain, suffering and yearning that we allow within our society
as a social system using all of the elements of interaction and
meaning construction described above.
To the extent that we are coming to understand the connection
between meaning construction and suffering, we are responsible for
the suffering we allow and that we produce through our stories.
We either imprison or set free through our narratives,
both languaged and performed each day.
STORIES AS NATURAL PHENOMENA
A. Stories are natural.
B. Stories grow naturally.
C. The natural growth of stories is emergent, just as much as the growth of plants.
D. Stories and plants grow through the process of iteration.
E. Seminal themes grow through iteration.
Small themes grow to large themes.
Large themes build into essays or narratives.
E1. Iteration is close to interaction. Each human interaction may be
seen as one more iteration of the emergent fractal called meaning.
E2. A human interaction may occur within a person as well as between persons.
The distinction between inter‑ and intra‑ becomes trivial in the emergence
E3. One of the most fundamental engines of interaction (iteration) for
the creation of an emergent meaning is the family unit.
F. Families have themes.
F1. Families have patterns that repeat.
F2. Families always add in aspects of the prior repetition of a pattern to the new or current pattern.
F3. Families can be seen as fractal engines of meaning.
G. Thematic growth occurs via interaction in families as they speak/enact
their stories, in particular their repetitive, dominant stories.
H. As stories are told/enacted in families, these iterations occur
I. Iteration always occurs with variation.....always and everywhere.
J. There are no pure redundancies...anywhere in the universe.
K. But...the speed of change via iteration may be unacceptable,
or the means of change may be unacceptable to a family or person.
L. So....therapists enter into the iterative process, joining the
curves of logic and themes in such a way as to only slightly side with
the variation that is already imminent.
M. Good therapy is the introduction and installation of new
themes/meanings into the family's ongoing, emergent fractal of clients'
Fractals: A Natural Math for Describing the Curves of Meaning
1. The entire move toward a postmodern posture is one which honors a
much more "natural" pattern then modernist determinism.
2. The postmodern sentiment with its emphasis on language, stories,
meaning, as the most salient aspects of being human shows a turn back
toward the incredible diversity and emergent energy of “nature.”
3. Nature, if we may personify her, has always utilized strategies of multiples rather than
singletons (note generativity processes....40 million sperm/ejaculation
for one child; 10,000 fish eggs for perhaps 10 adult fish; thousands of
seeds falling to barren ground in order that one might live to make
4. Language and the infinite varieties of meaning‑making are similar to
these natural patterns because they are created by a natural organism,
5. We live in a semiotic environment of unlimited signs, out of which we
carve meager sentences and phrases. These become the "offspring" that
survive out of the myriad possibilities within each utterance.
6. Both biological nature and human semantic/syntactic/grammatic dynamics
have similar properties.
7. They both iterate forward as emergent space-filling fractals.
8. Stochastic processes are absolutely necessary for the evolution of
species, and just so, stochastic processes are necessary for the
survival of a rich human semantic environment.
What then forms a Community?
Story elevates an assemblage of persons into a community.
Without story there can be no community.
The least component parts of a community:
Two or more persons with one or more stories to share.
Story is the fundamental human means of constructing community.
Story integrates because it has the following qualities:
Story assigns roles to human actors.
Story offers a trajectory for both the human actions and their meanings.
Story summarizes and organizes all human actions and meanings
under one overarching outcome: its moral(s).
Without one or more morals, there can be no story.
We search for and construct the moral(s) for every story.
Thus a story integrates a community within a set of coherent morals.
These are the threads by which we make meaning of our lives.
- My Dream
- Computational Capacity in Families
- A Meditation on STORY
- Just a Day
- Transitory Emergence
- Orientation and Communication
- On Beauty and Symmetry
- Grass Plume
- Sweat Lodge Architecture
- Artistic Creativity in Humans
- Clarity/Ambiguity in Discourse
- Nesting Narratives
- Forms without Words
- Time, Narrative, and the Institution
- Time and Observation
- Thoughts on Conversations
- Wind, Fluidity, and Therapy
- Story and Symmetry
- Narrative Segments