Friday, January 17, 2014

a narrative is like an ellipse

Suppose a world shared by the sender and receiver of a piece of language. Suppose also that they use a vocabulary, grammar, and syntax to construct narratives about that world, whose meaning lies in the how the world is structured and not in how the language example is structured. By this view the language serves only to remind the receiver of something in the world.

By such suppositions, a narrative is like an ellipse, to be fit on the words rather than on spatial points. So measurement of points for the ellipse is replaced by reading of words in the text. And the result is the description of a possible state of affairs in that world.

Update: still not right. For language, the "world" is a place to assemble a picture in my head. The words serve to define and focus and detail a particular picture. The best model frames of reference, if they are to be used in this, must act like a hose, funneling incoming words into clarifications of the picture. But the things we say and 'mean' about the world, may ultimately be nothing more than the narratives we tell ourselves about it. More later about "narrative space".

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