The second best sentence against narrativity I read today

There are deeply non-Narrative people and there are good ways to live that are deeply non-Narrative.

Here is much more and I thank Eric John Barker for the pointer.  You will find similar themes in my The Age of the Infovore, the new title for the paperback version of Create Your Own Economy.


Ethical narrativity seems absurd to me, which makes it all the more depressing when the world looks to be populated with a whole lot of psychological narrative types. How else to explain something like modern media with Maddow and Beck and Company? What are they doing if not feeding the biases of audience narratives?

It's an interesting thought, but the article--mainly a series of repeated, emphatic assertions--doesn't build a compelling case for it. Maybe this is an example of episodic logic? I don't doubt that people have different ways of seeing themselves in the world, but this diachronic-episodic explanation just doesn't seem to be a good tool for the job, revealing in the end nothing more than some pretty common understandings about human nature. Plus, as the article describes it, I could just as easily be diachronic or episodic.

Then there are the obvious questions that go unaddressed. Are these ways of seeing the world just how we are? If the Narratives believe we can be better people by being more Narrative, could I train myself to be more Non-Narrative? Or, since episodic is defined only by what it’s not, would this be the considerably more difficult task of unlearning?

I guess my gripe is really just that arguments of the “I’m different in a way that makes me better† variety are often shallow and annoying.

Tyler, I’d love to read your chapter since I have no doubt it’s much better argued. Could you send me a copy please?

Those of us who study narrative know that one can have episodic narratives as well. Also, sentences are inherently narratological -- so I don't buy it.

" . . . second best sentence . . . " MR readers only want the best, so what was it?

"Also, sentences are inherently narratological -- so I don't buy it."

So if we were to randomly compile, say, 2,000 single sentences each from a different source (a novel here, a magazine there, a blog here, an overheard conversation there, etc.), the result would have "narrativity"?

Most of the contra-narrativity comments here seem to be confusing narrativity with a view that eschews or eliminates any kind of personal or psychological continuity. That's not the view at all, as even a cursory reading of Strawson's article should make plain.

To say a sentence has a narrative structure doesn't mean that any random group of sentences will. The narrative-strucutred sentence in combination with related sentences creates narrative paragraphs, which combine to create narrative sections, etc. The result is a fractal narrative of increasing complexity, the larger the work in question. This can be disrupted using an episodic structure. But even with an episodic structure, research shows people will create a narrative -- albeit, a simpler one than you find in, say, a Dickens novel.

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