Thursday, October 14, 2010

DUELING QUOTATIONS II

From a blogpost by Jonah Lehrer by way of Curt Purcell's GROOVY AGE:

Double-scope integration integrates two mental assemblies, two notions, two thoughts that conflict in their basic conceptual organizations, because they are based on conflicting frames or conflicting identities. The result of this integration is a new conceptual array, a "blend," that has a new organizing structure and emergent meaning of its own. In "double-scope" integration, there are two input menial spaces that we typically keep quite separate, but there is also the invention of a blend that draws crucially on both of them.


I thought of this observation while recently reading (or attempting to read) Claude Levi-Strauss's 1969 work THE ELEMENTARY STRUCTURES OF KINSHIP, where L-S addresses what he calls "the 'polymorphism' of child thought:"

...it must be allowed that infantile thought represents a sort of common denominator for all thoughts and all cultures. This is what Piaget has frequently expressed in speaking of the 'syncretism' of child thought, which, however, seems dangerous to us since it admits of two different interpretations. If by 'syncretism' is meant a state of confusion and undifferentiation in wich the child's distinction between himself and another, between people and objects, and between the objects themselves, is poor, there is a risk of being content with a highly superficial view of things and overlooking the main point. This seeming 'primitive undifferentiation' is not so much an absence of differentiation as a different system of differentiation from [that of adults], and furthermore the result of several systems being in co-existence, and the constant transition from one to another."


Should I also bring in Coleridge to have his say? Nah, not today. But I will note a mild disagreement to one statement by Curt:

Here's my theory. Every fictional work is essentially a guided fantasy or daydream in which we cast ourselves as the protagonist or viewpoint character.


I would amend this to say that the "guided fantasy" can also coalesce around what a Wikipedia article calls the focal character, about which I'll have more to say in future essays.

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