Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson

Subject: Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson
From: Richard Wentk (
Date: Mon Oct 03 2005 - 14:06:08 EDT

At 21:50 03/10/2005, you wrote:

>>So a normal person might say 'I feel invisible.' A schizophrenic will
>>believe they actually *are* invisible.
>Well, that's a kind of comic book craziness.

Actually that's an example from life, based on someone I used to know who
had occasional schizophrenic episodes.

>The example you'll find in every textbook is this. If you ask someone with
>schizophrenia to
>explain the proverb "a stitch in time saves nine," he might reply
>something like this: "it means
>that I should sew nine buttons on my coat."


>Part or the problem (in this example) is that the proverb has been
>understood as a
>kind of instruction to do something fairly arbitrary, as if the author of
>the proverb knew
>all about me, and wanted to boss me around. This is called "an idea of
>reference" --
>the belief that things that have, in reality, nothing to do with me, are
>actually messages that
>have something very specific to say to me -- that I should fix my coat eg,
>or maybe there's
>something important about the number "9" if only I can figure out what.
>We ALL experience things like this at one time or another. An "omen" is
>an idea of reference. The belief that the stars somehow determine my
>is such an idea. The the universe was created by a moralizing intelligence
>who demands that
>you go to church is another such idea. By creating personal meanings that
>don't exist, the
>schizophrenic is only being human.

With the difference that normal humans have more functional models of
reality that have genuine predictive power, surely?

I'd guess from this point of view it's the modelling process that's broken.
Put very crudely there's a model labelled 'self' and there's a map of
relationships between 'self' and various points of reference in the outside
world. If the map making is broken, the results can look very strange.

>>What's the difference between 'I' as a complicated social narrative, and
>>'we' as the same?
>Are "we" in fact a social narrative or a narrative at all?

I don't know, because I'm not clear what you're saying here. My point was
that I don't understand on what grounds 'we' wouldn't be considered a
social narrative, if 'I' is, because they both seem similar kinds of labels
to me, and not absolutes.

>Jaynes thinks that one of the one of the 3 things that consciousness is
>all about is
>"narratization" -- we perceive the world as before and after, cause and
>effect, putting things
>into a story.


>Is the brain that does this itself a narrative of some sort? That doesn't
>seem to make any
>kind of sense.

I think no one knows the answer to that question. There are ways of looking
at the world in which narrative is all there is, in a very literal sense.
Are they true? Who knows?

The power of narrative in general seems to be massively underestimated as a
tool for shaping almost everything that happens between humans, and
sometimes also inside humans too. But it doesn't seem to be the whole
story. (sic)

Is music narrative in that sense, or not? A lot of the psychology and
politics that surround music making seem to be. But as for music itself -
personally, I don't think it is.


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