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Emergence: Biological, Literary, and ....

Paul Grobstein's picture

Evolution and Literature:
Notes on Change and Order

14 February 2008


"God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught ..."

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Forms of story telling

Non-narrative foundational storiesNarrative foundational storiesEmergence storiesAnti-stories Nothing changes in any significant way. The past is the determinant of and hence best guide to the future The past is the grist from which as yet unknown futures can be shapedNothing changes in any significant way
The world is ordered and everything has its appropiate place in it. "To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude." ... John McCain "his priorities don't address the real problems of the American people, because they are bound to the failed policies of the past." ... Barack Obama Its all arbitrary
One may be uncertain about whether one has found/fulfilled one's appropriate role The uncertainty of the future requires the greatest experience of the past The uncertainty of the future opens the possibility of creating things as yet unseen There is only uncertainty
Fate may assist one along one's path to finding/fulfilling that role Worry about the influence of chance Appreciate the existence of chance Its all chance
Choose among possibilities in terms of the eternal order. Among things that have existed, some are better than others. Choose those. All things that have existed can be improved on. Create from existing things new things that have as few of the previously existing problems as possible and open in turn new possibilities to explore. There is no good reason to prefer one thing over another.
Life is an opportunity to play one's role in the eternal order. Life is a test. Regret one's failures, regard them as expressive of limitations that one will hopefully learn in the future to overcome. Life is an ongoing experiment in creation. Look forward to seeing what happens next, whatever one does. Life is pointless.
The same order has always been, always will be Order is being progressively achieved Order and disorder will always co-exist in different and varying degrees and characters. There has and will always be only randomness.

Biological evolution

  • emergent and then blended emergent/architect
  • randomness and selection, with some late design
  • speciation but also apparently some independent development
  • exploratory rather than optimizing
  • patterns reflect "generativity"

Literature, genre?

Originally presented in a class on Emerging Genres. An on-line forum for discussion of that class is available here. Additional thoughts are welcome in the on-line forum area below.