Life of “Story”

Truth is subjective, affecting the individual in the present moment. In efforts of survival, Yann Martel’s protagonist Pi Patel shares two stories of the same incident in Life of Pi. Human thought and imagination use critical thinking skills as creative ways of envisioning outcomes for situations. Jonathan Gottschall calls imagined scenarios elements of “story” and sees “storytelling” as an evolutionary adaption. In The Storytelling Animal:  How Stories Make Us Human, Gottschall illustrates the authoritative human voice found in “story.” Forms of fiction such as literature, film, and video games, provide imaginative experience that propels the participant through the critical world of “what-if.” Reality can be harsh. This essay shows that creating elaborate delusions soothes one’s spirit and presents room for possibility.

The facts of Pi’s tragedy are:  the Patel family, with their zoo animals, were aboard the Tsimtsum; the ship sunk in the oceans’ depths, leaving Pi as sole survivor. Japanese officials investigate the occurrence and interview Pi who issues his circumstance through two “storytelling” methods:  subjective-spirituality and objective-rationality. In the first “story,” Pi’s narrative voice constructs the events by offering a rich, detailed observance of the animal world and religious connection with three belief systems. However, the second rendition of the same event at sea presents an anticlimactic dose of reason that issues the ugly truth. Neither “story” explains why the Tsimtsum sunk, and the reader is left deciding which tale holds preference:  the facts or the fabrication.

The second “story” rudely shows face at the end, shocking the reader who longed for Richard Parker’s noble inclusion. This action turns the tables on truth, showing the reality of Pi’s situation as distasteful. The reader comes to love Pi and finds disgust at acts of cannibalism and primal brutality. The reader wishes the truth was not real, that the first “story” was instead possible and accurate. More than likely, the “storyteller” also sides with the tale involving the tiger because the means for creating this “story” lives in survival. In order of simply making it through, Pi relied on the authority of his imagination. Pi created another individual – Richard Parker – from his memory and veterinary knowledge. In avoidance of absolute solitude, Pi utilized the power of “story” in creation of a reality he could deal with or accept.

“Story” is not limited to fiction, and Gottschall notes religious institutions as harnessing societal needs with “story.” The catch, however, is that different religions may tell contrasting versions of “stories.” He said, “Religion draws coreligionists together, and it drives those of different faiths apart” (Gottschall 123). Pi connects with three opposing religions. Forming a bond with each deity, Pi picks and chooses which religious message he prefers. In this way, Pi internally avoids religious disagreement. By subjectively addressing belief, Pi sculpts his own understanding. This essay notes the value lay in accepting multiple “stories” for individual comprehension.

The evolutionary benefit lay with the first “story.” Evolution supports the betterment of species. Gottschall calls the characters from “story” – including fictional, historical, and religious figures – “ink people,” recognizing the “ink people’s” way of wielding authority inside reality (144). He said, “[Ink people] shape our behaviors and our customs, and in so doing, they transform societies and histories” (Gottschall 144). Giving slave-narratives as reference, Gottschall shows that through Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe brought atrocities of Southern slavery into the consciousness of Northern citizens. Readers connected with Eliza’s character and empathized with her plight. Pi presented a case for relation and interaction with the animal world as means for survival.

Humans are social creatures. In absence of society, Pi’s “story” provides a sense of community with Richard Parker, Orange Juice, the hyena, and the zebra. Pi creates an animal society in avoidance of insanity, he said, “Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it” (Martel 91). Pi could not accept that the Chinese sailor was murdered and eaten by the French Cook, or that his dear mother stood up against inhumane cannibalism, also falling at the cook’s hand. Instead, Pi let the cook be a hyena, his mother Orange Juice, and himself Richard Parker. After all, a tiger is not afraid of a man. Better to be a tiger than a victim.

Truth alters along with the individual, and what is true for one now may not be true after experiencing a challenge or traumatic event. Truth – like humans – is victim to subjective encounter and interpretation. Pi’s truth is that he survived by any means necessary. Pi’s struggle was holding onto his humanness. “Storytelling” is a unique trait of humanity. Through art and literature, humans envision wonderful and terrible outcomes in efforts of lessening life’s struggle. Pi’s “story” encourages that the reader becomes their own tiger. Accept what one has but work towards creating the best scenario.

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Works Cited

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal:  How Stories Make Us Human. New York:

Mariner Books, 2013.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. New York:  Mariner Books, 2003.

 

Reading assignment written for Bev Zizzy, on Martel’s “Life of Pi”
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“To: R…”

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To: R…

 

All-seeing, the Eye blinks perspective.

Housed in the head, heated by the heart,

the Eye pulses with life.

 

Called “evil” as in warding off,

but… what is evil if not the reordering

of that which was once perceived as good?

 

The illumed see Truth

— sculpt reason, taste creation.

The Grand Observer, the Eye stares

into faces of untold struggles.

 

Woken, the “I” gazes universality,

relating theory as land-bridges,

building cities the blind cannot see.

 

The Woke are loathe to wait —

hurry the herd towards enlightenment.

But, the Eye knows: change is gradual,

not everyone is an “I”… not yet.

 

A. Shaffer July 2016

Hello Dear Readers and Fellow Writers…

I’m sharing “To:  R….” today, an electronic copy of my most recent works. We are fortunate to know R… and value his judgement and subjective outlook. That he also is on the Path of Optimism surely is not coincidence but maybe Quantum<>. For the original piece I invested more effort as the poem was a gift to my husband’s current closest friend. Their companionship is one of those unique connections that stand out in life. I created a “Thank You” card on the coolest textured paper, we’re going with pressed-bamboo. I wish I would have taken a pic of the card. I think it turned out well, even though I am not a “crafter.” The man, the myth, the legend, lol, is kinda a big deal because he is raising awareness right here in Wild n Wonderful — directly for Husband, it seems. Also, for me …not often enough do I encounter another “seeker,” and I value the philosophical hanglooses our friend endures. He has made the comment that he can understand how it is difficult for people to talk with me, in a sense that I am “too aware.”

He has a point, I come on very strong and lead with unsettling thoughts. Not many enjoy my thoughts, but… I will tell you a secret — I am not here for society’s enjoyment. My mission is to seek, find, question, contemplate, and create. There are plenty of others that may fill the role of performer. I am not here for amusement. I am looking for more. Entertainment is only entertaining if taken in proper doses. A life of constant amusement lacks substance. I am one that is more for substance. I take my amusement as a condiment, not a main course.

However, I sense a universal message:  “Use language as the communication that it is, but if none understand what is said then meaning is lost.”

The process of Awakening varies per subjective individual. I feel both of our ways could be correct — the value lay in effort. There are many people who will understand our friend as his charisma carries his intentions, he speaks words the majority of people comprehend. His works are good. I am not speaking to the same audience or through the same media. I will work at improving my interactions with others, but I do not intend on shifting my audience. I am here for those already Woke. I am ready for progression into higher depths. My concern is not for the herd but for the other shepherds. These minds are not shattered by my words, they already see similar truths.

The best way for my mind’s continued growth is through further contemplation and creation. Others who think like me are surely out there; the journey, then, is the leading together of like minds. O Philosophy! think of the thoughts formed by a society of seekers. This is the companionship I crave.

MmePhilosopher

Science & Religion

Science was filtered or directed by those who signed the check – this is not a new concept as history itself was victim to the designs of the victors. Yet, science seems to take personal offense to being limited by funds. I wonder if the attitude of the scientist is that the experimentation and research that they need funding for benefits the whole of society, and not just the scientist/field? Or is it capitalism in general that science disagrees with?

Seventeenth and eighteenth-century scientists wanted to demystify accepted thought; they abandoned traditional scholasticism for empirical experimentation – the scientific method. One way to humanize the New Science was to make it readable and available to the public; the process of discovering truth needed to be understood so that the outcome would be accepted.[1] Science did not want to hide behind smoke and mirrors – yet something changed because modern scientists do not appreciate other fields attempting to understand their procedures.

Religion and science, prior to the Scientific Revolution, did not necessarily oppose the other. Darwin’s discovery of natural selection, however, directly challenged the church’s theory of divine creation. In “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Natural Selection as an Algorithmic Process,” Daniel C. Dennett discussed the algorithmic process of evolution that has created Us; he said, “No matter how impressive the products of an algorithm, the underlying process always consists of nothing but a set of individually mindless steps succeeding each other without the help of any intelligent supervision; they are ‘automatic’ by definition: the workings of an automaton.”[2] Nature as automaton removed the need and purpose of God – the church was shaken. The more science revealed natural means to explain existence, the less authority the church could rightfully demand.

Bibliography

Bowler, Peter J. and Iwan Rhys Morus. Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey. 2005. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.

Dennett, Daniel C. “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Natural Selection as an Algorithmic Process (1995).” Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition. 2005. Ed. Philip Appleman. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, pp. 489-93.

Picture c/ohttp://40.media.tumblr.com/702dc6c21e963c18370e86f3f605b986/tumblr_n81k83wQij1s50vg8o1_1280.jpg

[1] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 45.

[2] Dennett, “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,” p. 493.

Faith, Reason, and Consciousness according to Herr Professor

{Peer} noted that faith and spiritualization, for Nietzsche, are separate from instinct. Let’s look for balance between faith, reason, and consciousness.

Faith:

  • in oneself – hard to come by; people spend too much time convincing their inner skeptic that the self is worth supporting; may require genius (284).
  • errors of – Nietzsche sees many truths exposed as erroneous and the weakest form of knowledge; to include: “that there are enduring things; that there are identical things, kinds of material, bodies; that a thing is what it appears to be; that our will is free; that what is good for me is also good in and for itself” (110).
  • cause and effect – Faith relies on belief, not factual evidence or empirical truth. It is an extended working of the imagination. Nietzsche noted that one’s belief would change dependent on experience; he said, “Before the effect one believes in causes different from those one believes in after the effect” (217).

Reason:

  • Nietzsche sees reason as clouded because humanity assumes too many false truths to really work out any hard-core expressions of reason.
  • e. How can one find reason in a soup of belief?
  • the add-on-liars – Custom, or handing down one tradition from a previous age and forcing it on a new age, results in people supporting false notions. Nietzsche said, “… one lied to oneself, inventing reasons for these laws, simply to avoid admitting that one had become used to them and would no longer have it any other way. … And that is what one does, and has always done, within every prevailing morality and religion: the reasons and intents behind habits are invented only when some people start attacking the habits and asking for reasons and intents” (29).

Consciousness:

  • The aware, knowing element to the human mind. The singular force inside each human that must determine what is true and how to roll through life.
  • {much notation present in forum discussions}

As displayed over these past weeks, I like to break things down to see how they may be connected. If one of those things disprove the other, then I cannot see how a bridge could be formed – though there may be a way, I just cannot kin it. Consciousness is dependent on being aware of the truth, and reason further addresses the truth to discover motivation and intent as well as process and expectancy of outcome. Faith is dependent on belief. One of these is not like the other<>. Truth and belief are nemesis, on a serious level. Truth requires proof, evidence, and empirical considerations while belief is secured to superstition, religion, mysticism, spiritualism, occultism (and Santa Claus}. While Yin and Yang balance the other out, Truth and Belief are not comparable – one makes the other false, not equal. Imagine Truth as a baseball field and you are running the bases. Belief comes into play, and suddenly the ground is made up of water. Try to continue running the bases. You cannot. The bases are gone. There is no balance because one cannot reason themselves out of the situation. The moment one realized it was water and started to swim, the mind was already twisting around “how in the world did this happen? If the field is a pool then why would my coach tell me to wear cleats?” There is no reason here, no logic to deduce. Anything could happen. Down the rabbit hole we go! Reason and truth do not live in belief.

 

Works Cited

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans.

Josefine Nauckhoff and Adrian del Caro. Cambridge, United

Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Thank you for the picture:  http://ldsmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/IllusionofMind-1024×768.jpg

Essay: Synopsis of Descartes: On A Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking Truth in the Sciences

Synopsis of Descartes:

On A Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason

and Seeking Truth in the Sciences

by A.D. Shaffer

{Graduate Studies; originally written for Humanities 530 Spring 2015}

Rene Descartes developed his personal philosophy through his own experiences inside of nature while addressing outside influences in which the self is formed. Cartesian dualism involves the separation of mind from body, or the spiritual experiences from the physical. Throughout the creation of his philosophy, Descartes notes that he is leery to publish his findings because his truths may not be the same as the truths of others. The truth, he moves, is subject to experience and cannot be learned from another individual insomuch that a person will better educate themselves by experiencing life.

Beginning in the academic sciences, Descartes holds that mathematics alone can be recognized as purely true as two plus two will always be four: “Beyond all, I was most pleas’d with the Mathematicks, for the certainty and evidence of the reasons thereof; but I did not yet observe their true use and thinking that it served only for Mechanick Arts…” (17). For his profession he choses the writing of letters so as to better experience the wonders of the world.

The importance of experience over lessons cannot be stressed enough as Descartes leads by example for the rest of humanity. He takes to travel to glean his own experiences: “I wholly gave over the study of Letters, and resolving to seek no other knowledge but what I could finde in my self, or in the great book of the world, I imployed the rest of my youth in Travell, to see Courts and Armies, to frequent people of severall humors and conditions, to gain experience, to hazard my self in those encounters of fortune …” (20). Through living life and writing of his objective opinion, Descartes advises to stick to the roads to avoid the dangers of the uncivilized woods in which he means for the individual to take advantage of known truths found in custom.

In architecture, Descartes preferred one builder to many because too many designers on one object would result in a catastrophic structure. He also favored fewer laws as the less laws there were in play, then more attention could be applied with strict observance. In his quest for truth, Descartes developed four laws of his philosophy: to accept nothing as true unless he was sure it was a known truth, to divide any difficulties into subsequent groups, to orderly lead his thoughts, and to critique his findings with specific calculation (35-36). False reason is seen as contemptible to Descartes as his religious beliefs ensured that God does not let falsity be present in the mind.

Cartesian dualism notes the separation from the physical of the mind, or two levels of existence: that of the material self and the thinking self or soul. Descartes said, “I knew then that I was a substance, whose whole essence or nature is, but to think, and who to be, hath need of no place, nor depends on any material thing. So that this Me, to wit, my Soul, by which I am what I am, is wholly distinct from the Body, and more easie to be known then it…” (59). The human act of contemplation allowed for Descartes to recognize the separation of materialism and spiritualism.

Works Cited

Descartes, Rene. A Discourse of a Method for the Well Guiding of Reason and the Discovery of

Truth in the Sciences. London: Thomas Newcombe, 1637. Project Gutenberg Ebook.

Picture c/o:  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Frans_Hals_-_Portret_van_Ren%C3%A9_Descartes.jpg