Quora answer: What is a narrative?


As a person who does not understand narrative very well intrinsically I have become fascinated with the topic through a personal deficiency.

One thing that I can understand is that narratives are inversions of maps. In other words narratives are to time what maps are to space.

So as we can say the map is not the territory we can also say that the narrative is not the temporality.

We can consider the fractal nature of time. http://www.if-online.org/Fractal%20Time%20pdf%20file.pdf It is flowing at all scales.

An excellent example of a narrative map is at http://xkcd.com/657/large/

A good example of a map narrative is “Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas” by Denis Wood  http://www.sigliopress.com/books/atlas.htm

The relation of Map to Narrative is a spacetime interval. This means there is a phase space between time and space within the interval, such that from some points of view the map is bigger and the narrative smaller, and from other points of view the narrative is bigger and the map smaller.

So you would think that if I can understand maps and diagrams I would by a simple transform be able to understand narratives. But it really does not work that way. I can understand narratives of works of art that I do structural analysis of, but I cannot invent a narrative myself. I manage to tell stories in daily life but I cannot make up one. I found this out when I tried to write an Epic See http://archonic.net/epic/index.htm

My problem is that to me all possible paths are the same, and I don’t know how to choose between them. This is nihilistic of course. But what are we to do . . .


Posted September 12, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

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