Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Continuing story telling ....

Paul Grobstein's picture

A place to continue thinking about/sharing stories about/related to/stemming from story telling as inquiry ...

including scripts/reflections on/from our final celebration-- 

redmink's picture

Final Fairytale

Final Fairytale

Written and Performed by Audra Fannon and Joo Park



Audra:  The story I will tell you happened not so long ago in Korea, or maybe suburban Maryland, or maybe Philadelphia.  Anyway, there was a girl named Jin Suk.  She was medium tall, and quite skinny except for her belly.  Her pale crimson oval face reminded people of an egg, and her twinkling brown eyes were deep like the River of Han in Seoul, Korea.  Then, lots of other stuff happened, but the important part is she cleaned only the center of a window.  Through the spotless middle, she caught a glimpse of a small private school in Silver Spring, Maryland.  It was a magical window.

                Joo: What she saw was a recently repainted, re-carpeted, and rearranged room big enough to squeeze in about a hundred people, a few arm chairs, and six backpack covered tables.   A girl named Audra was listening solemnly to her high school principal as he shared that another student had been asked to leave the community because she had said mean things about a classmate on MySpace.  This breach of trust clearly infuriated Audra who needed this trust in a place where she could treat the commons like her living room.

                Jin Suk:  “That is so sad. (said Jin Suk)  What an exclusionary group of people!  Everybody says bad things about each other on My Space.  It’s part of being a teenager.  How do they live in such a repressive environment?”

                Audra: Because this story appreciates balance, Audra also cleaned the center of a magical window one day.  What do you think Audra saw?  That’s right.  She saw Jin suk in her school.  Jin suk was asking her friends how they were preparing for their College Scholastic Ability Test.   They told her about their loss of appetite, weight, and hair, and their anxiety.

                Audra:  “Wow, (said Audra) those people are crazy when it comes to test taking. How do they survive in such a stressful academic culture? The pressure to do well on this one silly test has destroyed their lives and affected their health. I don’t take any tests that seriously.” 

                Joo:  So after that, time passed.  Jin suk and Audra applied to colleges in America.  After much deliberation, they both decided on a small women’s liberal arts college in a suburbs of Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr.  A clever fairy bewitched the residential life officials willing them to put Audra and Jin Suk in the same room.  Then, she cast a spell on the people who assigned the college seminars.  The fairy was going to work against ignorance and prejudice through Bryn Mawr College.

                Audra: When Audra and Jin Suk met on the first day of Custom’s Week, they thought they already knew each other, and they didn’t like what they knew.

               Joo:  Audra thought that Jin Suk would be studying all the time and would create a stressful living environment.

             Audra:  Jin Suk thought that Audra would watch her every move and judge every mistake.

            Both: (in cacophony) They both doubted they would ever live in harmony.

            Audra: But they decided to give each other a chance and see if they couldn’t revise the stories they had written about each other. 

            Audra: One day, Jin Suk took a nap. Her conscious mind turned off and her unconscious mind took over.  While she slept, she had a dream about the same magical window, but a fairy told her to clean the edges this time.   When she did, she saw that her new roommate was actually a kind and loving soul, and that the scene she witnessed in the center was superficial look into Audra’s life. 

            Joo:  What actually was happening was that Jin Suk was tacitly picking up Audra’s kind and loving body language:  Audra turned down the light and put on earphones in response to her roommate’s napping. 

Another day, Jin Suk, with her new found appreciation of tacit knowledge, noticed that Audra was hungry.  (Audra making her sound)  Jin Suk put down her books and offered Audra some food and culture.   Over a bowl of spicy Korean noodles, Audra realized her initial impression of Jin Suk was incorrect, and that the dirty edges of the window that nobody bothered to clean revealed the fun loving girl that Jin Suk really was.

Both:  (singing) Audra and Jin suk, they were living/ in harmony/ after all.

Allison Fink's picture


I don't remember exactly what I said, but the main points were:

I got to think more through taking this course and it's very interesting about the complex nature of truth but I'm still confused about what the truth means and the difference between truth and storytelling, or perhaps the point is that we can never arrive at truth but only get a personal account based on pattern recognition. Or we decide what we want to believe.

I got to think about how we should direct our storytelling, and how interesting it is how the fairy tales reveal our view of the world and don't discount the evil parts of human nature, and is this a better thing to expose a child to? I experienced how scientific views imply entire world views: Darwin: do ideas evolve? Galileo: is it all up to us after all in God's eyes, if the Earth is not the center of the universe? And how do our brains make up stories if they decide what to perceive from what's there and fill in gaps?

I found the writing in this class to be very frustrating a lot of the time because I felt I was using the same voice all the time and just trying to get the pieces to fit together but not being creative or seeing things beyond a rigid and stuck point of view. I thought that I needed to have a balance between the conscious, which directs the path, and the unconscious, which allows more freedom to see beyond the path. I felt that I succeeded more in writing by just using a piece of paper and writing my impressions on it. I felt that the point of college is to be more engaged in asking questions and pursuing them, and that the night before I had allowed things to come together to some degree.

 I really liked the first performance with the meetings with Anne. I laughed hysterically at the sheer ridiculousness of the awkward moments when we were first getting to college and college writing. I also really enjoyed watching Ashton's presentation. It was so creepily graphic.

Rob Lockett's picture


"I got to think more through taking this course and it's very interesting about the complex nature of truth but I'm still confused about what the truth means and the difference between truth and storytelling, or perhaps the point is that we can never arrive at truth but only get a personal account based on pattern recognition. Or we decide what we want to believe."

Allison... is what you said true? Who told you that everything is 'story telling'?

As an outsider looking in I must say that your confusion is justified...

How can we assert that all of our observations and philosophical constructs are only stories, without presuming, that that underlying idea is itself 'the truth'?

Is the fact that our constructs are all 'storytelling' a story itself?

Or is it the truth?

Paul Grobstein's picture

Csem photo album

Now available at /sci_cult/courses/csem/f07/. Thanks all for a wonderful performance day.
Student 23's picture

The Daniel Dennett Spice of Life Show

The Daniel Dennett Spice of Life Show

By Madi, Rachael, and Al

Madi trumpets theme music

Announcer: Welcome to the Daniel Dennett Spice of Life Show, where we take Mr. Daniel Dennett and try to find him a woman… or a man… or some sort of beast… anyone who can endure his endless rhetoric.

Dennett: Ahem. Superb rhetoric.

Announcer: I stand corrected. Superb rhetoric. Superb, my grandma’s left tittie.

Dennett: I heard that.

Announcer: I know.

Dennett: Hello, I’m Daniel Dennett, author of the bestselling book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. I graduated from Harvard University, and earned my doctorate at Oxford.

Music plays

Dennett: Excuse me, where is that infernal music coming from?

Announcer: Heaven.

Dennett: Bah, heaven doesn’t exist. We all know that.

Announcer: God, here we go again. Alright, folks, you all know how this show works because we’ve been on for four long seasons.

Dennett: It pays the bills.

Announcer: We bring a variety of people into the studio and if at any point Mr. Dennett becomes uncomfortable, all he has to do is—

Dennett rings bell at will

Announcer: You can’t ring at me. I’m the announcer! You know what? I quit. I have control over my own destiny!

Exit announcer

Dennett: Don’t worry about her, folks. We’re all just self-replicating strands of DNA; there’s no such thing as destiny!

Voice: Contestant Number One! Pope Uban!

Enter Pope Benedict, cue Gregorian chant

Pope: May the light of God (ding) shine upon you (ding), my child…? (furious dings)

Dennett: That’s right, Pope Urban! You too!

Voice: Contestant Number Two! Briar Rose!

Cue theme music. Enter Sleeping beauty. She seductively moves towards Dennett, taking several phallic objects out of her purse (banana, knife, candle, pen, etc.)

Sleeping Beauty: Do you like my objects, Mr. Dennett? …Mr. Dennett… You know Mr. Dennett, there’s something about your pronounced features, your kindly smile, your bright eyes that reminds me of my father.

Dennett: Well, these are just products of my superior selection.

Sleeping Beauty: I loved my father, really.

Dennett: That’s nice, dear.

Sleeping Beauty: He was a strong man… Graceful. Masculine. …Erect. (eats banana)

Dennett: (puts hat in lap)

Sleeping Beauty: (picks up candle and walks over to Dennett.) Won’t you light my fire? Don’t you wanna light my candle?

Dennett: (ferocious dinging)

Enter Bettelheim

Bettelheim: Miss Rose? What have I told you about molesting strange men?

Dennett: I’m not strange!

Sleeping Beauty: I’m not molesting!

Bettelheim: Miss Rose, you know, it’s time for your therapy sessions…

Sleeping Beauty: I’ve been a bad, bad girl, Dr. Bettelheim!

Bettleheim slaps her hand and they exit.

Voice: Contestant Number Three— A. Square!

Theme music, enter Square

Square: Hello sir, I’m A. Square.

Dennett: I can see that.

Square: No, that’s my name. A dot Square— you can call me A.

Dennett: Thank you A. Why don’t you sit down?

Square: Can’t, I’m two-dimensional.

Dennett: I have a question for you, Mr. Square… I mean, A. You are a very lovely and regular being. Do the biological mechanisms of our own world apply to yours?

Square: Well, according to L. Pentagon’s study on two dimensional reproduction, we in Flatland can also get jiggy with it. Na na na na na na na, na na na na na na.


Exit Square.

Voice: Contestant Number Four! The Ugly Stepsister!

Enter Stepsister

Stepsister: (grope)

Dennett: (slap)

Stepsister: Excuse me, Mr. Dennett, are you trying to disable me?

Dennett: Well, ma’am, every culture disables certain weaker members.

Stepsister: I’ll disable your weaker members…

Dennett: No, I didn’t mean it that way, miss, it’s only natural selection.

Stepsister: Well, I naturally select not to be here!

Physical comedy. Exit stepsister.

Enter Darwin, confused.

Darwin: Excuse me, do you know where studio 5 is? I need to present my theory of… evolution?

Dennett: D-D-D-D— Mr. Darwin? Charles? Charlie?! Will you sign my Origin of Species?

Darwin: Anything for a fan…

Dennett: Anything for you sir! (falls to knees)

Darwin does awkward turtle and exits

Dennett: Charlie!!!!!!!!!

Voice: Contestant Number Five! Frankenstein’s Monster!

Enter Pierre

Pierre: I’m not a monster. Call me Pierre… you’ve never been with another species before.

Dennett: Ah!

Pierre: Everything still works the same.

Dennett: Well, technically, your reproductive viability has never been tested.

Pierre: Bloody hell! How crude!

Dennett: When did you become British?

Pierre: Last Thursday. When did you become an indignant asshole?

Silence. Crickets. Enter Victor.

Victor: Pierre?

Pierre: Victor?

Victor: I just wanted to say… I’m sorry.

Pierre: Do you really mean it, Victor?

Victor: Here, I sewed you mittens, for all those times I missed your birthday.

Pierre: Oh, Victor, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for me!

Victor: I wanna start over, do things right this time.

Pierre: Oh, Victor!

They skip away. Exit.

Dennett: Well, at least they won’t be contaminating my gene pool.

Enter Anne.

Anne: Good morning. Daniel, where’s your hat and mittens?

Dennett: In my bag, professor. (sheepishly and confused)

Anne: Call me Anne. Oh Daniel, you’re making me feel all maternal! I’m looking here for your post.

Improv search for post.

Dennett: Type in “Indignant asshole”. I mean Daniel Dennett.

Anne: Oh well.

More improv

Dennett: There, stop. It’s right there.

Anne: (spreads out materials) Now, in your post you are derogatory towards religious people. Do you feel you are disabled by a God-fearing culture?

Dennett: Well, I fear that this God-fearing culture disables us prophets of Truth.

Anne: Where is the soul, Daniel?

Dennett: Um…

Anne: Did you learn of its existence tacitly?

Dennett: …Define “tacit”.

Anne: Everyone has their own definition of tacit… like this bell. Do you say to yourself “I’m gonna ring my bell right now” or do you just do it? (takes bell and sits down with it)

Dennett: (awkward bacterium)

Improv awkward bacterium

Anne: That’s neat!

Dennett: Are you aware of the awkward turtle?

Anne: (awkward turtle happily)

Dennett: Well, in the very distant past, what was once the awkward bacterium arose through a Vast series of mutations to become the awkward turtle.

Anne: Well, that’s a story!

Dennett: It is most certainly not! Evolution is plain truth.

Anne: So you know that tacitly.

Dennett: Anne, have you ever read The Origin of Species? It’s a wonderful book by Charlie Darwin.

Anne: That’s a great story!

Dennett: Are you trying to insult my intelligence?

Anne: Do you feel disabled, Daniel?

Dennett: Do you feel disabling?

Anne: Define disabling.

Dennett: It’s something I know tacitly.

Anne: Can you bring it to the conscious?

Dennett: No.

Anne: Well that’s a story.

Dennett: You and your stories! Not everything is a story! There is fact! There is order out of endless chaos! There is the origin of species! Dammit Anne, I’m a scientist, not a storyteller!

Anne: Science is storytelling, Daniel. Science is storytelling. Speak of… I have to go meet my esteemedcolleaguePaulGrobstein for lunch. He’s bringing his brain. Both of them. And remember, your paper is due outside my office by nine AM on Tuesday!

Dennett: Wait… I don’t remember any assignment!

Anne: The meaning of life in three pages or less, double spaced.


Dennett: Wait, an assignment? This show has never come with an assignment! Am I being graded? You can’t grade me, I’m Daniel Dennett! And I don’t need anyone! So, ha! (rings bell and exits)


Anne Dalke's picture

in dialogue with one's unconscious....

I thoroughly enjoyed all the final performances today--thanks to all of you for coming, sticking with us through the semester, and summing it all up so magnificently!

I'm sure Paul will soon post his photos of the event; to tide you over til then, here are the two I took, of a man in dialogue with his unconscious...



Rob Lockett's picture


Hi Anne, I notice that drama and 'the arts' are used regularly to convey ideas (stories) about reality. It is a very effective tool with which to impart what are otherwise incredibly difficult concepts to articulate.

As Midgley said we need 'scientific pluralism', so we also need 'philosophical pluralism'.

Dr. Zacharius reminds us that philosophy comes at 3 levels; theory (logic), Drama (existential), and casual conversation (opinions).

He says (and I agree wholeheartedly) that we must begin with the logical argument (level 1), give dramatic illustrations (level 2), so that we can talk about the ideas meaningfully (level 3).

We cannot use only one angle (or window) to promote a particular philosophy without failing to fully inform our audience and ourselves.

In the last century (in particular) it is clear that drama has been the driving power of ideas in the Western culture. I agree with may others that it has overstepped it's bounds. Many of us have lost the ability to analyze the theoretical foundations of ideas for instability. Now the houses of cards grow dangerously monolithic. As a result, meaningful change and challenge to our thinking and culture become virtually intolerable. We are swept away by the wind.

Let's not build our houses upon sand.

I found a PDF that explains what Dr. Zacharius is telling us in more detail about the three levels of philosophy. I personally became aquainted with his analysis by way of audio CD (the way I do most of my studying while delivering lumber products here in Northwest Ca).

The PDF is actually 10 pages of a book that is a rebuttal to atheistic beliefs. But it is relevant to our conversation about 'stories' (beliefs) in general.

The point?... Don't use drama to change the way your students think (and subsequently behave) without also giving them the power to reason through the logic and any logical problems within those ideas. If you do, they will only be equipped to express their feelings.

Here is the Web address for the PDF File:

Another great resource and explaination for this talk can also be obtained free of charge. It is called, 'Understanding the Spirit of the Age'. It is broken into 4 parts. Part 1 can be found here:

If you are truely interested at that point, you should find no difficulty in navigating to parts 2,3, and 4...

Part 2 gets into the crux of the 3 levels of philosophy. Just so you know, this particular message was given to a Christian audience. Dr. Zacharius has some challenges for the Christian churches as well (not just atheists) namely, that they have also disregarded the discipline of engaging the mind and do have not encouraged their students to think seriously.

No matter what we believe, I don't think that it is arguable to say that we 'must' examine ourselves and our ideas, to be sure that we understand what it is we believe, and why we believe it.

Let's not make 'feelings' the absolute (by using only drama). The absolute can only be that when our feelings, mind, and communication are able to cohere.

Hilary McGowan's picture

Point the finger

Ashton and I discussed this yesterday, the topic of who to blame for this entire occurance and how it could of been made a little better. Obviously, the WGA began the strike, but it was magnified in nature by the behavior of the responding networks. Who is in the right, the people who intiated the battle or the sorry networks refusing and snubbing the profit of the writers.
ashaffer's picture

WGA strike

OK, so this has more to do with culture and economy than science, but I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on the current Writer's Guild of America (WGA) strike. For those of you who are fans of House MD, Law and Order SVU, Family Guy, Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, The Tonight Show, Dave Letterman Show, and many others- your shows are being directly affected. I encourage everyone to learn about what is going on and give her opinion on the revision in current culture that is happening right now.

Here is my understanding of the situtation: Writers receive residuals for their work which allows them to earn money while they are between jobs. As a group, they claim that these residuals are essential to letting them support their families in a tough industry. 20 years ago, when networks decided to make shows available on VHS, the writers took a cut in pay since the market was new and unsure (they say that the understanding was that their normal cut would return when the market was sucessful). Their pay cut of the VHS's has not increased since then and remains the same for DVD's- I think it said they make $00.04 for every $20 DVD you buy, and they are asking for 4 cents more. Also, since shows are being streamed on the Internet more and more, the Networks are running ads during those shows and making a profit, while the writers receive no compensation when their work is shown online. They are asking to be paid from what the Network makes from online viewing. Once the WGA's contract was up for renegotiation, they made several demands to which the Networks refused. The strike began Nov. 5 and the negotiations stopped recently- the Networks walked away from the table. The strike is against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. For additional information, I suggest wikipedia and youtube especially.