Story of Evolution/Evolution of Stories
Bryn Mawr College
23 March, 2004

Looking Back, To See Where We Might Go Next ...

Observations change, stories change ...

The universe changes, stories change?

People change, stories change?

Reactions/foreshadowings ...

A journey of exploration: general reactions so far (some of them)

IF we are the product of a serendipitous process which, itself, originated serendipitously , AND we have evolved to being capable of creating and evolving stories, and therefore, our own story, THEN we can and probably will (have already? e.g., cultural evolution, evolutionary epistemology...) reshape the process that created and shaped us, which will shape new things that may affect us...etc, etc, etc....including what we view as absolute truth, and this,too, may change. It's all in our heads .... Ro

It was hard to find comfort in this story, to justify everything that I so soundly believed in and had never really questioned but all of a sudden was, such as protecting the "rights" of our fellow man and keeping our world beautiful and peaceful, but the thought that I reminded myself of was that it doesn't even really matter how it all came about i suppose because like it or not this is where we are and that is what i believe so I should stand by it even if it might be for "nothing". sigh... all for now ... Julia

i'm a bleeding human soul, like we all are. so you answer me, please, this is a serious question: if you don't cling to absolute truths to what do you cling? ... Orah .... all i really care about is the clinging ... "to what" doesn't really make a difference, does it? just as long as we're all doing the same thing, we're all in this together..... we all hold on. *relief* ... Orah ... tell me! who gets to tell her story and who doesn't? ... Orah

I am a water droplet in a stream flowing to a greater river and I don't want to fight upstream, I just want to go with the flow ... Still, for all my wanting to be a water droplet, this class is really challenging me to think and fight upstream past the currents that I have already created in my mentality and beliefs ... Being original and one-of-a-kind sounds good to us, but it is very different when we take action. When we interact with people, when we are meeting and playing with people, especially for the first time, we want to be anything but unique. We want to fit in, to be one of the group, to not feel like the odd one out. When we are in action we want similarity, why can we not value that? ... Katherine

Some specifics, from the climb so far

I for one, was someone who always understood that leaves on a window plant moved toward the window during the sun light hours because they "wanted" sunlight. And when I think about all of the things that "work" in an organism without intentionally intending to work that way, it really makes you think of the majestic nature of biological rules. We assign understanding to things that don't need it to be understood in order for it to work ... I think it was so important for me to look at the origin of the word and to really let it sink in that we created it. ("We" meaning humans.) ... Patricia

It has been interesting to think about the opposite of clinging, to imagine the extreme particularity and fixedness with which we are situated within existence and then to imagine everything that being released from this position might reveal. This is sort of what I mean by awe- a sense of infinite contraction and expansion (with an emhasis on the expansion) ... Reeve

an individual cannot generate germane memes without being influenced from other people. Does this mean that our thinking is dependent on other people's thinking? Can a person live alone insolated from other human beings and be creative? Original? Can a person generate something that has never existed before? Or is imagination a new way of putting old elements together? ... Daniela

If we concede that free will plays a part in evolution, then it can be said that evolution is a product of compromise. Perhaps natural selection and random chance are not necessarily the two dominating factors; compromise should be included as well ... Lauren

Looking forward, towards the next ridge?

When we come up with theories, or just with ordinary thoughts/observations, it seems like they are in an expanded form in our heads. In order to transmit these thoughts (assuming they are complex enough for a gesture or a glance to be insufficient) to someone else, we have to put them into words. We contract our ideas into these words, and then speak them, they find their way into the ear of whomever we are talking to, where they expand again, perhaps in the configuration in which they were expanded in our heads, perhaps not ... Bethany

in his introduction, abbey states that "it will be objected that the book deals too much with mere appearances, with the surface of things, and fails to engage and reveal the patterns of unifying relationships which form the true underlying reality of existence. here i must confess that i know nothing whatever about true underlying reality, having never met any...for my own part i am pleased enough with surfaces- in fact they alone seem to me to be of much importance." ... Emily S

can we connect time and language (or lack thereof)? because it doesn't take too much of a leap to go from "being in the moment" in sense of cognition of time-- to that wordless space where we act from instinct ... could a lack of words or language for a specific moment just be our way of finally being completely and fully in the substance of time? ... Em

When trying to create a new meme (not that anyone does this particularly consciously)... I guess what i'm trying to say is when creating a new anything... essay, piece of artwork, thought... it is not always necessary to look explicitly at what already exists and has existed and to get caught up in the past... because then you can't make any leaps... in the process of doing it sometimes you've just got to trust that your subconcious mind ... will do what it has to do to create something meaningful for people (independent of whether its entirely new) ... Elizabeth

And so, stories came to Earth because of the great cunning of Kwaku Anansi, and his wife, Aso. When Anansi brought the wooden box of stories to his home, he and his wife eagerly learned each one of them. And you can still see today that Aku and Aso tell their stories. Everywhere you look, they spin their webs for all to see (in the story that I remember, Anansi dropped the box of stories as he was climbing down from the sky kingdom and the stories spilled out, spreading all across the world) ... Perrin


Eddin: "Before you start to write, you must feel the anxiety of those who come before you. They must terrorize you."
Alfian: "I choose which historical influences work for me."
Eddin: "You need historical predecessors to be oppressive."
Alfian: "I choose my oppressors."

Eddin Khoo and Alfian Sa'at are established poets in Malaysia and Singapore. This intriguing exchange took place last summer during a forum explicitly about the politics of writing, implicitly about writing under controlling regimes ... Su-Lyn

What distinguishes human intelligence from the artifiacially created is that people tend to "look backwards" and seek the cause of extant processes. By doing so, they examine proofs, revaluate meanings, make mistakes, and reconsider identities. Blundering energizes people to correct the mistake using another approach/logic/perspective. Prodding people to change (and consequently adapt in response to the challenge), mistakes are the prerequisite for social evolution ... Daniela

I have always believed in "the survival of the fittest", a concept that has been much challenged by this course. If the tree of evolution places on equality all beings that are in existence today, then words like 'superior' and 'best' need to be eliminated from my vocabulary with regards to the evolutionary process. Professor Dalke has got me thinking about taking this one step further- can those words be eliminated from our vocabulary even when talking about culture, literature, morality??? If so, what can they be replaced by? Is this another example of a place where language falls short. I think not, but I have yet to hit on the ideal words. There I go again, 'ideal' ... Simran

Guess we're ready to move on, huh?

to give up on discovery entirely? Surely that is a grave mistake ... Su-Lyn

i can be accused of making many a mistake, but "giving up on discovery" is not one. discovery is what we are all, myself, of course included, scrambling for. granted i, sometimes, plead for a rest from the struggle part of it ... a sort of roadside nap ...but "give up" no ... Orah