Story. Culture. Knowledge.
These three are the Trinity of my mind, of my personal reality.
I always return to these, but not usually at the same time. They all connect, though.
Culture and knowledge are how we typically speak of story without realizing it. Story interests me the most, in some ways. It’s because story can so easily be dismissed as mere entertainment that it has so much power.
Knowledge and story are at the heart of culture. They give form and expression. Culture is an ephemeral thing by itself. It’s normally invisible, until we seek out our sense of identity. Maybe more than anything, culture encapsulates our reality tunnel.
Story and culture determine what we consider to be knowledge and how we go about looking for it. They frame our sense of truth and reality. As such, they mediate the complex relationship between belief and knowledge.
I love knowledge, or rather I love truth, more than anything. I always have. I don’t know why truth matters, but I just know it does, know in my heart more than in my mind. I want to know the truth of everything just because I do. It’s not so much the knowledge itself, but the sense of knowing; or else, when lacking, the ache to know, the intuition of something to be known.
I’ve come to realize, however, that story gets at truth like nothing else. Truth can feel impotent at times. Truth needs story in the way lungs need air. People are convinced by story, not truth. A story that expresses truth is a force to be reckoned with.
I’m less clear about culture. It’s such a strange thing. I don’t know that I care about culture in and of itself, but I’ve come to understand that culture is what makes it all happen on the collective level. We don’t have culture. We are culture. It’s the whole fish in water scenario. We live and breathe culture.
I feel like I can never fully explain why these three things are so compelling to my mind. I’m not sure why it is so difficult to speak about all of this. Story becomes mere entertainment or otherwise a personal interest. Culture is simplified to notions about race and nationality. Knowledge gets reduced to factoids and data points. The profound nature behind them gets lost.
I wish I could write about these in a way that conveyed the depth of my sense of them… but you either grok them or not, I suppose.
10 thoughts on “Trinity In Mind: Story, Culture, Knowledge”
“I’ve come to realize, however, that story gets at truth like nothing else. Truth can feel impotent at times.”
Or maybe, you mean story conveys truth like nothing else.
“Truth needs story in the way lungs need air. People are convinced by story, not truth. A story that expresses truth is a force to be reckoned with.”
Maybe, it’s because story places truth and knowledge in a context readily. Story is dynamic, animated: you see the human or whatever it is in action, relating to other things, sometimes, in a large context; this is even more compelling when the story resembles real life more. Story tends to resemble life of whatever kind, fictional and non-fictional. Fantasy, for instance, on the surface, may be viewed as a lie but viewed as tropes, people derive a lot of meaning from them.
Maybe too, it is not about truth, it’s about meaning.
A friend of mine once said he did not like isolated factoids and data points, rather preferring the textbook style which is like a story (often, I return to that time and relate it to how people seem to be more convinced by story than explanation even; go round facebook and you see it).
How story works is strange and mysterious, but intriguingly so.
I found this interesting story at the BlogCatalog to the right of your blog. Check it out. The story in this particular post is very familiar; remember?
Remember what? My memory apparently fails me.
I mean that the style and the subject matter are reminiscent of mine. I was astounded at that – that someone could write so much like myself.
“Or maybe, you mean story conveys truth like nothing else.”
I mean there is more to story than appears on the surface. The narrative mind is rooted in the archetypal and imaginal.
It’s not that story expresses truth or not. Every story is its own truth of sorts. It’s how we grasp truth. The story gets taken for the truth for it has to be that way. Truth has no life outside of story. You can try to skin the story off of truth, but you’ll just have a dead truth.
“Maybe too, it is not about truth, it’s about meaning.”
Meaning is either the product of truth and story or mediates them… or maybe it’s something entirely else. Story is many things and nothing in particular. It’s just story. The trickiness of story is that it undermines the analytical mind and hence makes impossible such distinctions as truth vs meaning.
“How story works is strange and mysterious, but intriguingly so.”
Indeed. I don’t know what story is. That is what makes it compelling most of all. Story doesn’t need to be understood.
“it undermines the analytical mind”
Making fun of me eh? smh
“Truth has no life outside of story. You can try to skin the story off of truth, but you’ll just have a dead truth.”
So you mean it will not be grasped. That’s what I meant by “story conveys truth like nothing else”
“Meaning is either the product of truth and story or mediates them…”
When you said truth, I was thinking about scientific truth or fact, which is a proposition that has been tested. Maybe, my analytical mind narrowed the definition too much. As such, what hasn’t yet been tested remains only hypothetical or false and so even though it will make sense, meaning, to another, it does not necessarily mean it is true. Another is that the whole story might be false but it or a part will fit into the imaginal stream of a person so snugly, he will find application for it in his life. That’s a recent study of mine: how Art makes meaning; completed it last Tuesday. I was studying Oscar Wilde’s saying that life mimics art, in conjunction with my Philosophical Art project. It’s a funny thing really.
By the way, have you checked out the blog link I sent?
It takes art to bring meaning to truth. So, what about the opposite: It takes truth to bring meaning to art?
What link are you talking about? Do you mean the one in the above comment?
Culture is also a story, but to me it is a static humdrum paralyzed cockroach. This is because of how it is treated. Static because it is acknowledged as some particular set of codes. It is humdrum and paralyzed because these codes are supposed to define every part of life, thus reducing the effect, as I, as a human, am a broad set of actions which cannot be completely encapsulated in some code or principle. Story, on the other hand, is concrete, it is fragmented into situations, into actions, into conversations, into things, not mere codes which now have to find a way of interpreting some action of mine – it is not easily relatable, it is not easily reproducible. If, for instance, we accept the assumption that people primarily learn through adaptation and mimicry, story offers all or almost all the elements that allow one to effectively relate to what is in the story as I readily see actual things, not codes.
I think, even, the code is understood as some kind of story.
There is more to culture. You’d be wiser trying to understand culture through story than through anthropology or any other social science, although not the stories a culture wants you to look at.
The problem is how to discover the story of a culture, the hidden narrative. Where to go looking? The clues can be anywhere, but the clues aren’t the thing itself.
Culture as story is powerful because the story can’t be seen and analyzed. The story is reality which might be why you say it is concrete. More than the stories we tell, I wonder about the stories that tell us.
“There is more to culture. You’d be wiser trying to understand culture through story than through anthropology or any other social science, although not the stories a culture wants you to look at.”
Yep. Those are the annoying codes and codices that patriarchs, elders and academics, like Pharisees who don’t understand their own material, bore you with. So annoying and shallow; but can you blame them?