Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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go-B

climber
Hebrews 1:3
Dec 31, 2013 - 03:42pm PT
1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.


photo not found
Missing photo ID#338141

...think about it!
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 31, 2013 - 03:44pm PT
Sometimes they read biographies or see films based on actual occurrences, but they have no interest in imaginative fiction.

They are among the brightest people I have known.

I am always reading a novel or watching TV dramas like Breaking Bad.

One of these individuals recently told me he didn't read comic books as a kid, but bought non-fictional Little Big Books , some of which in old age he still has. I loved comics as a kid and still enjoy them in the Denver Post.

Your Brain on Fiction

Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.

Researchers have long known that the “classical” language regions, like Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are involved in how the brain interprets written words. What scientists have come to realize in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like “lavender,” “cinnamon” and “soap,” for example, elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells.

In a 2006 study published in the journal NeuroImage, researchers in Spain asked participants to read words with strong odor associations, along with neutral words, while their brains were being scanned by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. When subjects looked at the Spanish words for “perfume” and “coffee,” their primary olfactory cortex lit up; when they saw the words that mean “chair” and “key,” this region remained dark. The way the brain handles metaphors has also received extensive study; some scientists have contended that figures of speech like “a rough day” are so familiar that they are treated simply as words and no more. Last month, however, a team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that when subjects in their laboratory read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like “The singer had a velvet voice” and “He had leathery hands” roused the sensory cortex, while phrases matched for meaning, like “The singer had a pleasing voice” and “He had strong hands,” did not.

Researchers have discovered that words describing motion also stimulate regions of the brain distinct from language-processing areas. In a study led by the cognitive scientist Véronique Boulenger, of the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France, the brains of participants were scanned as they read sentences like “John grasped the object” and “Pablo kicked the ball.” The scans revealed activity in the motor cortex, which coordinates the body’s movements. What’s more, this activity was concentrated in one part of the motor cortex when the movement described was arm-related and in another part when the movement concerned the leg.

The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.

The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters.

Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, performed an analysis of 86 fMRI studies, published last year in the Annual Review of Psychology, and concluded that there was substantial overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with other individuals — in particular, interactions in which we’re trying to figure out the thoughts and feelings of others. Scientists call this capacity of the brain to construct a map of other people’s intentions “theory of mind.” Narratives offer a unique opportunity to engage this capacity, as we identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and track their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbors and lovers.

It is an exercise that hones our real-life social skills, another body of research suggests. Dr. Oatley and Dr. Mar, in collaboration with several other scientists, reported in two studies, published in 2006 and 2009, that individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective. This relationship persisted even after the researchers accounted for the possibility that more empathetic individuals might prefer reading novels. A 2010 study by Dr. Mar found a similar result in preschool-age children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their theory of mind — an effect that was also produced by watching movies but, curiously, not by watching television. (Dr. Mar has conjectured that because children often watch TV alone, but go to the movies with their parents, they may experience more “parent-children conversations about mental states” when it comes to films.)

Fiction, Dr. Oatley notes, “is a particularly useful simulation because negotiating the social world effectively is extremely tricky, requiring us to weigh up myriad interacting instances of cause and effect. Just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life.”

These findings will affirm the experience of readers who have felt illuminated and instructed by a novel, who have found themselves comparing a plucky young woman to Elizabeth Bennet or a tiresome pedant to Edward Casaubon. Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 31, 2013 - 05:13pm PT
In any way you choose to describe it ---the style chosen by the author to convey the necessary elements in a story is of secondary importance. The primary task of setting the stage and revealing the action,and the characters, is inescapably one of detail and precision. The degree to which the writer evokes a response from the reader, the more or less specialized response the writer seeks ---is based upon,almost inversely proportional to ,the quality of information conveyed to the reader by the narrative.
--


I would agree with this somewhat, though the "information" imparted always describes the degree of artistry. The beginning writer will lean on facts and figures and tangible stuff to set the scene. The expert will forget about painting a visual picture and let the interactions and dialogue between the characters carry the day. Mix in some action and you have a nice blend.

Modern writers who are obsessed with getting the information "right" and qualify their narratives with excessive physical detail don't understand the nature of their craft. They should be writing technical journals or reporting the news. But even the later can be highly literary if the human element is given currency and the physical information is spare.

A good exercise for writers is to excise all numbers, quantifications, evaluations, adverbs and adjectives and to see how the piece runs. Trying to make physical info tell the narrative is the best way to make readers skip ahead, looking for the people.

JL

jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Dec 31, 2013 - 06:21pm PT
Stephen King: "The adverb is not your friend."
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Dec 31, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
The adverb is absolutely, positively not your friend.
splitter

Trad climber
SoCal Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Dec 31, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
eternally (adjective)

cud'be yer friend...

eternally blessed.

cud'be yer foe...

eternally cursed.

just sayin'...

edit: never mind! ...adverb, not adjective, duh! my bad. new something wasn't quite right.

regardless, happy new year to one and all, eh?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 31, 2013 - 06:47pm PT
As a beginning writer I used to fish around for formidable sounding adjectives and adverbs. Now I try and minimize them to the last degree, so when I do use one, often for comic effect, it pops. Same can be said for descriptive language. The trope or turn of phrase is the curse of narrative writing. However there are no rules that are not made to be broken. So there well always be a spot for phrases like: "The palm at the and of the mind, beyond the last thought, rises in the bronze decor," or, "Go buy yourself a haircut, Gaines. You look like your dad f*#ked a buffalo."

Happy New Year all!

JL
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Dec 31, 2013 - 06:52pm PT
I love the clarity and simplicity of Elmore Leonard. RIP


Happy New Year!


;>)
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Dec 31, 2013 - 07:02pm PT
On the other hand, I absolutely love Proust.

Though he can be a bit long-winded at times.
MH2

climber
Dec 31, 2013 - 07:13pm PT
I take Bill Watterson.
go-B

climber
Hebrews 1:3
Jan 1, 2014 - 06:33am PT
In the year of our Lord 01/01/2014...


photo not found
Missing photo ID#338143

John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

...a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down...


John MacArthur New Testament Commentary John 1-11
John MacArthur New Testament Commentary John 1-11
John MacArthur New Testament Commentary John 1-11
John MacArthur New Testament Commentary John 1-11
John MacArthur New Testament Commentary John 1-11
John MacArthur New Testament Commentary John 1-11
John MacArthur New Testament Commentary John 1-11
John MacArthur New Testament Commentary John 1-11

...appropriate brothers and sisters!
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jan 1, 2014 - 09:01am PT
John McPhee is a writer who can make absolutely any topic interesting. He rules.

McPhee wrote 3 books about geology. I remember Doug Robinson turning me onto one and then I was hooked. I have no idea how he was so accurate. I mean, I'm the one with the education and years of experience, but I've learned things from his books.

He later assembled the three books into one volume, Annals Of The Former World. He added a 4th segment to the first three, and it weighs about 2 or 3 lbs. It won the Pulitzer for non-fiction.

In this weird world, I actually know his son-in-law, and through him, one of his daughters. So I get signed copies of his books.

He wrote for the New Yorker for a long time, and a lot of his books were printed there before they came out as a book. The guy can pick any topic and make it fascinating.

He wrote a book about just oranges. It is fascinating.

One of my favorites is titled The Curve Of Binding Energy. It is about nuclear weapons, and his protagonist is a guy named Ted Taylor, who made atomic bombs smaller. He was very curious, and it is a fantastic book.

Gill: As for reading, I pretty much stick to non-fiction. With films, I enjoy non-fiction. About the only fiction that I really like is science fiction. Lots of science geeks enjoy science fiction. You know...how cool would it be to travel to other stars instantly. You get to ignore those pesky rules.
WBraun

climber
Jan 1, 2014 - 09:12am PT
travel to other stars instantly

It's been done and still being done for billions of years.

Modern science has no clue how to do.

Modern science is still in cave man mode.

Actually modern science is a devolved science.

In past ages one could travel anywhere using the proper methods lost in this so called advance modern age which is actually degenerated age.

This modern age is the iron age of hypocrisy and quarrel along with heavy dosages of pure stupidity ......

locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
Jan 1, 2014 - 09:22am PT

"travel to other stars instantly"

"It's been done and still being done for billions of years."...


Like last night for instance...

I was FLYING!!!...




MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jan 1, 2014 - 09:55am PT
We need Sullly back here for a review of how literary theory and criticism has evolved over the past 50-60 years. Literary theory is a fragmented field of study, and there are a great number of ways to analyze literature:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_theory

It's interesting to me that the field has not collapsed to a single theoretical view. (The more I look around at various fields these days, the more I see this kind of theoretical fragmentation. That has some interesting implications about how we're starting to look at reality.)

Writing has shown, I think, a shift in emphasis from plot to author to description to narratology. Narratology makes a distinction between story and the discursive presentation of events. What they mean by discursive is how story is narrated by the (real or implied) author.

The shift to narratology indicates--to me, at least--an increased sensitivity to how any author or writer can affect others' perceptions in ways that are not obvious (read, "insidious") authoritatively. Herein lies the art of writing, for some. (Proust's "À la recherche du temps perdu" comes to mind as a highly studied work in terms of narration--especially his ability to de-limit and confound a sense of subjective time and place.)

The shift to narration is another thread of concern exposed by post structuralism and postmodernism. Writing, parsing, presenting, modeling, teaching, documenting anything at all are imaginative limitations that construct dualistic realities. A writer's (novelist, scientist, poet) ability to show anyone anything is a form of hegemony: it privileges one point of view over others. A number of people in academia have been concerned about that. Yet, my students (especially undergraduates) are clear about that power or ability intuitively, and they are automatically cautious about accepting anyone's view (no matter whose) as truth, reality, or accurate. It's difficult to prove anything to them. What they seem to demand is their own experiences.

As for plots and fabula in literature, I thought it was always character development that was the most significant part of any traditional story, rather than climax or description or author view and background.

For there to be character development,there must first be a character. The truth of the matter as far as I can see is that there is no character in reality to develop to begin with at all. All character is fantasy, albeit somewhat interesting ones. Each of us are writing our own stories, fiction.


Happy New Year. 2014. Wow.
MH2

climber
Jan 1, 2014 - 10:01am PT
Each of us are writing our own stories, fiction.


Maybe fiction is writing us. I saw that happening to M.C. Escher once.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Jan 1, 2014 - 10:02am PT
We do need sully in this thread but she writes what she wants.

:)

DMT
WBraun

climber
Jan 1, 2014 - 10:06am PT
far as I can see is that there is no character in reality to develop to begin with at all.

Terrible mistake believing there is no individuality but the material reality is true although temporary.

Thus they are not fiction.

The illusion is to take the material reality as permanent .....
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Jan 1, 2014 - 10:19am PT
^^^ This is why we also need Werner in this thread.

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jan 1, 2014 - 10:19am PT
Few people read fiction any longer - but most of us are watching/hearing more fictional narratives then ever before.

Modern fiction plays out in TV series and movies and in song and all the attending videos. And also in advertising - thought this is an intentional swindle, whereas the former is about nailing true things.

Literalists often miss the point of excellent fiction, which is to toggle circumstances and characters into position in order to illustrate facets of the truth.

As Picasso once said, "Art is a lie that makes us realize truth."

The only thing that is not "real" in good fiction (whatever the mode of deliver) are the physical and biographical details.

JL
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