A Story is Like H2O

A story is like water that you heat for your bath. It takes messages between the fire and your skin. It let's them meet, and it cleans you! Very few can sit down in the middle of the fire itself like a salamander or Abraham. We need intermediaries.
Which is well for Rumi to have written, relegating the vaguely scientific to analogy (it's not totalising). But to understand stories through science, Karl Kroeber writes, may be destructive through its very process of examination. Through elimination of polysemism, language is distorted, and obfuscation may result from claims of approaching clarity. "Just as one chips a shattered piece of obsidian or flint to make an effective tool, so one tries to sharpen one's language by narrowing and focusing, and refining it."
His critique was a passing remark related to how stories are constructed; the most compelling critique of Φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ (re. the concealment of natural truths, as per the Heraclitian fragment and aphorism) may be found in parts of Paul Ricoeur's essay "Science and Ideology". When science denies ideology, it becomes one: when scientific and technological claims to scientificity mask their justificatory function with regard to the military-industrial system of advanced capitalism, they become the ideology Marx denounced; commodities remain enigmas.
The premise of Ricoeur's solution is accepting that the knower cannot rise to the viewpoint of totality, which fits in with Heraclitus' fragment, but not so well with positivism. But he explains that ideology is the constraint of nontotalisation - he demonstrates how critique of ideology cannot escape ideology. 
We have this way of talking, and we have another. Apart from what we wish and what we fear may happen. We are implicated in what we do, whether we like it or not.
Ricoeur proposes that scientific writers preunderstand their belonging to the ideology that forms the picture of who they are; engage in distanciation; accept non-completeness - i.e. admit that the distanciation itself is a moment of belonging.
But there is a desire to jump out of our orbit to look back at ourselves; hence the disembodied satellites and spacecraft. Hence the description by Davenport of the evolutionist as dei ex machina. Even though to attempt to cut ourselves out of the social fabric leaves holes in our narrative structure. Pierced by flint tools.




Is it a coincidence that expressive scientific writing died out at the dawn of the 20th century? And have we gained or lost by imposing, say, a scientific view on Ovid, who becomes an evolutionist, more than a dynamic allegorist who would otherwise frighten people away from mauling - out of the vanity of being spurned - poor lyre-playing Orpheus. No, we ravaged Orpheus anyway. And are our feet not fiercely rooted to the ground as a result? In materialism. No head in the clouds.
"Hence the boredom of a Spengler or a Frobenius, master analysts of metamorphic form and of the peculiar destinies inherent in form, with the tidy, insular minds of Darwin and Huxley, who wanted the interlocked natural systems of metamorphoses to be a progress (history is dramatic), a beautiful growth from one breathtakingly important - and accidental - egg, an exfoliation of all from a fortuity that held in potential the armadillo, the rose, the leopard, John Dillinger, and Confucius," Davenport writes.
Davenport is a master storyteller - and storytellers, like scientists, perfect but a few great masterpieces of words or symbols. It is their gift to the belonging of their age: their renewal of historical substance by crafting it to belong to their time, a never-ending but hopeful project, inviting each new age to contribute. The rose does not care if someone calls it a thorn, or a jasmine. Ordinary eyes categorise.
Perhaps categorisation is also the proof of ideologising one way of looking as having primacy over all others (ideology viz.Randall is meant to be a goal, not a destination - the latter is called dogma). This is a sign of our times; scientised methodologies. How to escape this? Ricoeur borrows the concept of the "efficacy of history" which may help one distance oneself from the context to which one belongs. The one-directional arrow of progress, being ideological and not scientific in nature, is only appropriate here if one exposes it as a condition of their "belonging". History has much to teach - including alternative narrative analysis, particularly of scientific writing.
Davenport claims that scientific narrative deserves a place "among the corpus of imaginative writing zoned off as literature by unstable rules of admission ... by the protectors of letters". But what of the protectors of science? The gates were closed on Agassiz, a romantic biologist. What we say is poison to some and nourishing to others. Truth, like ideology, isn't necessarily meant to be taken literally.



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