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Thread: Do you view your life as a narrative?

  1. #21
    Healer-in-Training Array Morning Star's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
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    Hmm... you mean like this?

    "As I type out my response to this thread, I'm listening to a light-hearted instrumental song on my headphones. I find myself lost in this ocean of sweet harmony between the piano and Indian flute; and even in the coldest winter, I feel spring blossom once more in my heart."

    Oh yes - every day. It certainly helps me see even the most mundane event from a creative writer's perspective.
    Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible... and then some.

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  2. #22
    Permabanned Array
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    Jul 2014


    First draft: An attempt to use the OP question as a context to make my drunken thoughts from last night coherent:

    Happiness is not a fish that you can catch, but a good story is:

    The average human has more then a hunter gatherer would dream of, why aren't we all just super pleased all the time?

    Because humans live on a constant hedonistic treadmill:
    - Pain and suffering, disappointment and discontent, are all relative to what know we have experienced in our lives.
    - Pleasure and happiness, satisfaction and contentment, are all relative to what we have experienced in our lives.

    If happiness was life's goal, isn't that a terrible mechanism for life to adopt? What happened? Is evolution trying to adapt us into happiness-getting machines but didn't finish the job? Ofcourse not. Evolution by it's very nature doesn't aspires to anything, it doesn't makes leaps of engineering towards some goal. And if it's a designer you adhere too, well - then that deity must have one sick sense of humor (As well as the reason many religions place "happiness" as an afterlife goal). The fact of the matter is, thee is no evolutionary benefit for being happy, we benefit from aspiring towards happiness - not from ever achieving the goal but from running towards it. The human life isn't a mechanisms made to capture happiness.

    There is however a trick, a solution coming from a rather unlikely place: The human ego.

    Meaning of life: the fallacy of self-images and narrative tools.

    Self awarenss is not a thing in itself, it isn't a pure independent mechanism. We live in complex social groups and needed to become specialized in understanding and building mental models of the most influencing object of our environment - other humans. It just so happens that we happen to be just such an object, and in the process have attained the symptom of creating complicated mental models of ourselves. This is a key in understanding this nature of identity, because it means identity is something we curve out from the mental schemes we have of people. It is why we have role models growing up.

    But humans have developed another important social mechanism:
    Other apes are capable of incredibly advanced learning, but when thrown to the wild, apes which learned sign language will only use it on a need-to-say basis and the 2nd generations will have a much more limited vocabulary then their parents. What differentiates us isn't the need to learn, it's the need to teach, to share.
    This evolved into one of the most critical of human processes - storytelling. Over time storytelling has not only become a mean to describe experiences - real or imagined - it has become key to the development of abstract thought, of meaning and insight. Unlike merely showing someone how to do something, storytelling forced us to try to communicate to each other things that we can not demonstrate concretely. It has both driven us to use imaginations to convey ourselves, and in the process enabled us to create higher encryption levels of language. I believe that many of the first words might have results from names, referencing the meaning and lesson conveyed by specific notable story tellers, themselves expressed by miming and gesturing. As our society expended, storytelling had to incorporate not only the unwitnessed observations of nature and tales of hunting, but stories of interactions with other humans - characters. And the more leeway we gave for storytelling to be based on imagination, the more meaning we've come to express in describing the nature and lives of those characters.

    When combined, those two adaptations have an unwarrented side affect: No long did we build the mental models of ourselves on comparison to concrete and living role models, but on characters with meaningful narratives. In doing so, we started to seek the same in ourselves. We developed the unwarranted ability to have an existential crisis.

    And so, we found a new way to trick our long term selves into happiness: Our ego.
    We may be never be content with our lives, but we can be aw inspired and satisfied with the meaning conveyed by the character of who we tell ourselves we are.

    The sanctity of personal identity, the bane of personal growth

    Self weaved narratives are a problematic endeavor. Meaning is conveyed in characters by overarching simplistic patterns, by extracting absolutes, but who we are in life rarely has absolutes. Personality traits are inconsistent, our ideals are sometimes expressed and sometimes broken, certain aspects of who we are and who we've being fit into our story, and certain aspects don't. If we weed out everything that doesn't fit, we end up creating a bubble universe for ourselves to be in, and act destructively to any aspects of reality which threaten the bubble.

    To shed this, perhaps the solution is not to seek the identity of the character that delivers answers and makes a point, but rather the character that raises questions and intrigue. Not the protagonist of the hero's journey, but the magnificent bastard acting in the background of a story where everyone else is the protagonist.

    Don't rationalize your motives, but seek an identity who's motives are naturally unclear.
    Don't cut out your actions to convey your ethics, but seek an identity which is grey.
    Don't seek cardboard beauty of ideals, but the beauty of complexity which is being human.
    Don't reject information that conflicts with who you want to be, be someone you want to know more about.
    Don't look back and seek finding where you have meaning, look back and seek where you've being interesting.

  3. #23
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Array Mole's Avatar
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    Mar 2008

    Default Narrative and Archetype

    Our lives are limned by unacknowledged narratives.

    These unacknowledged narratives are called archetypes.

    And part of the excitement of growing up is discovering the archetypes that drive us.

    Many of us though loose our excitement because we don't discover the archetypes that drive us, and so we fail to transcend the driving archetypes.

    So we take our hands off the steering wheel, we look only in the rear vision mirror, and allow ourselves to be driven around by our archetypes.
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