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"Origin of the Universe"

Towards Day 4 of Evolving Systems course

I. Coursekeeping
look around: whose name do you not know? ask her...

knock when you arrive for a conference:
help me stay on schedule!

so: what was it like, writing and sending that first paper?
(we'll look @ a moment @ your various openings and endings)

PLEASE send each paper named as "Paige1.doc," etc.
(imagine me organizing my desktop...)

By Monday evening, make your on-line forum posting for week 3, reflecting on the discussion we're about to have: sharing your reactions to scientific stories of the universe, of earth, and of living organisms on it, thinking about  what ways these stories might change the stories you tell, the way you conceive of and tell stories...

This a warm-up for your second writing assignment, due electronically next Wednesday @ 6 p.m.: really RETHINKING (not just editing) your creation story through the lens an extended time dimension.

You can re-write the story itself to incorporate what you've learned since your first draft; or--nudging you on now to more critical work--you can write an analysis, comparing your story w/ the one that Turner (for instance) offers.

What are the differences between a story and an essay?
What are the similarities?

[From my David Shields, in my Non-fiction Prose course:
"That's what I think telling a story is: resolving a thought."]

What have/can you learn from storywriting that can help you w/ essay writing? Can you write a creative story to make a critical point? Can you write a critical paper that has a creative dimension?

This also an opportunity to talk about "writing with sources," and the questions of plagiarism, intellectual property and creative story construction --more important than avoiding "theft" is respecting your own abilities...

II. Speaking of which: let's look @ the originating paragraphs of your myths...what do they share? what are the commonalities in style, form, theme? what are the differences among your beginnings? what is the relationship between your beginnings and endings?

III. Now let's go exploring back in time and out in space, w/ the help of

How do these stories connect w/ (expand? challenge?) those you read last week, and wrote this week?

How do they apply to King's questions about reflecting the world as it truly is/starting off with the wrong story?

Or: what's the relation between mythical and scientific stories?

What did you notice, in these stories?

Where did they come from?

Turner, p. 38: "the evidence is not yet firm...for the earliest moments of creation...our ideas are still just speculation."

p. 42: "As cosmologists try to go even further to understand the beginning of the universe itself, our ideas become less firm."

"Not true, but not made up":
based on empirical observations (red shift, etc.),
which need stories to explain them

the story of continental drift (for instance) is not arbitrary;
it is an explanation of observations

What these stories add to those we've already told:
1) dependence on shared observations, consensus construction construction (not "objective" but commitment to  "shared subjectivity"
2) an enormous time span
3) ... in which humans (for the most part) do not yet exist
4) persistent change (what was is not what will be)
5) no beginning, no ending (do stories need these?
are there timeless stories?  eternal ones?)

what guides a choice of where to start and end a story?
is "turtles all the way down" a story w/ an end
("oh! that poor turtle on the bottom!") or w/out one?