Rant Index

3. MASK OF SCIENCE/ The Triangular Model:

Now, I've described these two tendencies, the one towards self-assertion, the other towards self-transcendence. But does that complete the functional story-centered model? Is there not perhaps a middle ground, and if so what might we call it, this zone in between self-assertion and self-transcendence? I suggest we call it SELF-INQUIRY, self-inquiry which is the domain of SCIENCE. Self-Inquiry posits a level of functionality neither dominated by autonomous impulses of the nervous system nor by any distant longings of the imagination. We are speaking of something empirical here, something sense-based, yet driven by a search for facts that modify, build and expand upon a framework of accumulated observations.

So, here we have now our three points of triangulation. The JESTER left, the ARTIST right, and the SCIENTIST in the middle. Jest helping to assert our animal nature, art helping to assert our emotional and spiritual nature, while science works to assert our mental and rational nature. In my view, no depiction of the human facility for story can be complete without all three of these tendencies interweaving themselves together to reflect the elusive fabric of truth.

Look at the model, and think about what goes where. It's a grid, it's an abstraction, but I think it's useful. Think about the office comedian who never seems to miss an opportunity to jump on someone's weaknesses. He is the stuff of comedy. Or about the fireman, who makes sacrifices or even sacrifices his own life, for the sake of the welfare of others. He is the stuff of tragedy. Or the scientist, who retains his or her integrity, even at the risk of social and financial repercussions. I know we tend to avoid using the word "stories" to describe the processes of science, but they are stories nonetheless.

As an aid to understanding, stories allow us access to human experience at the biological level, at the scientific level, and at the emotional and spiritual level. Stories are stories because they are accessible to us, but they must also challenge us. In that sense, stories are useful, just as tricksters are who lead us, wittingly or unwittingly towards the unknown. As mysterious and seductive as the ways of reflection are, we can safely assume that stories will always remain the primary currency of our daily interactions.

(Continued... 1 2 3 4)
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