Re: Story Structure of Systems LO2200
Sun, 23 Jul 95 22:58:48

Replying to LO2190 --

Doug Seeley, discussing a post by Kent Meyers, opined:

"I also really like the notion of a story "re-creating" the experience as
being the original intention of language which has been lost because
phonetic-based languages, in contrast to iconographic ones, brings in a
level of indirection which, especially when intellectual abstraction is
also considered, makes the possibility of such re-creation remote."

Stories began, of course, long before writing, and they are the main means
used to transmit knowledge in cultures which still have no writing. So,
in the "telling" of stories, indirection is the product of something else
other than how it is written. For this reason, Korzybski's prescriptions
to label our discourse to keep the abstractions from becoming confused
with the experiences they are intended to describe doesn't work. It
applies to *writing* (indeed, printing) and not to speech at all.

Regarding the power of story, even when remote from the experience, there
is a wonderful tale - I think from Nachman of Bratslav, but in any case
retold in more than one collection of tales from the Chasidim, including
Buber's - which speaks to this. Roughly, from memory, it goes something
like this:

In a remote village, the Jewish community was so distressed by the
combination of bad crops, surly peasants and unreasonable demands from the
government that they begged the rabbi to use all his power to alleviate
their suffering. After much study and meditation, the rabbi went out into
the woods with his disciples, gathered an exact number of sticks of
precise length, found a particular spot in the woods, built a fire with
the sticks, and uttered a special prayer with magical meanings.

When they returned, the weather had abated and the other conditions all
improved. But, as is the lot of this people, over the years that followed
conditions degenerated again until finally, a generation later, the same
complaints of oppression came before the new rabbi. The rabbi gathered
his disciples and the elders of the community, and they studied and prayed
together. Finally, the rabbi went out into the woods and searched
carefully until he found the spot for the fire. He then said, "We don't
remember how many sticks and of what length, but we remember the spot and
we remember the fire and we remember the special prayer, and that will
suffice." And when they returned to the village, it was as he said, and
for another generation the villagers suffered decline until they could
stand it no longer. The new rabbi went out into the woods and declared:
"We have forgotten how many sticks and we have forgotten the place in the
woods, but we remeber the fire and the special prayer, and that will
suffice." And it did. And in the next generation, all that was
remembered was the prayer, but that was enough. And finally there came a
time when the rabbi, after much study and prayer went out into the woods
and said: "We have forgotten about the sticks, and we have forgotten the
place in the woods. We have lost the special prayer, but we remember the
story, and that will be enough. And it was.

Jack Hirschfeld                   Don't you know, you fool, you never can win?