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♦ Narrative Fractals

on 4 August 2010 - 6:57pm
In brief, I believe six elements can be found wherever we look carefully into what goes into (scale-insensitive) narratives of interaction. 
These elements are:
  • Attractor – interest-generating opener [emotion: curiousity]
  • Challenge – disruptor of settled understandings/relationships [emotion: tension]
  • Opportunity – vision of a desired outcome [emotion: inspiration]
  • Strategy – path to realize vision [emotion: hope]
  • Test – trial to confirm strategy [emotion: confidence]
  • Decision – implement strategy, reframe/reloop, discard [emotion: resolve]
As far as I can tell, this pattern can be used to tag activities in physical and social realms, regardless the scale of the entities involved.
In social interactions with others, the narrative fractal pattern may influence what we opt to focus on as we quickly scan an environment. The narrative fractal elements also can be used in tagging (see ) memorable conversations, in categorizing the assembly of conversations and events that make up subplots, in seeing the pattern that assemblies of subplots form to make up a story, in mapping the convergence of stories that comprise an epic, and in sensing how a combination of epics create an overarching belief system or a religion. 
View an enlarged version of picture here and click to zoom in
In scientific engagement with our environment, the narrative fractal can be described as:
attention->challenge->hypothesis->experimental design->trials->conclusion
In science, the assembly of small hypotheses and experiments on these lines similarly can scale to grand theories and to revolutions in scientific paradigms.
Such a scale-independent method of processing of experience also may have been at work in the evolution of organelles into single cells, cells into multicellular organisms, and multicellular organisms into complex beings. 
Collections of molecules on a small scale that prove able to sense and care about themselves – including an ability to apply deep patterns of response in dealing with their surroundings – would gain a net survival and reproductive advantage over other assemblages that lack this capability.
Consciousness of others, as well as the self, also may have arisen more readily in entities wired to process interactions on the basis of a fractal pattern of experience.  A relatively small mutation might have led to emergence of such consciousness.  Consciousness of others could have begun when an entity became able to apply its narrative fractal system not only for processing its own experience, but for modeling the activity of others encountered in the environment.
A narrative fractal pattern similarly could have assisted entities in forming more complex assemblies. A common basis for interacting with the environment would make communication and cooperation among participants more likely to emerge.
It is possible, as well, to see narrative fractals as a driver in the emergence of social entities at a higher level of physical, intellectual, and emotional complexity. Building on the insights – as I understand them – of sociobiology, evolution can be seen as the story of “selfish” genes (form viruses), memes (idea viruses), and lumenes (emotion viruses) interacting to find consilient, mutually benefical ways of interacting.  
From their interactions - via sentient carriers that evolve to help probe opportunities for them to survive and reproduce - new "generative scripts" emerge.  The most adaptive, resilient, and successful of these appear to be those that  balance the survival and reproductive success of the individual carrier with that of the (emerging) more complex entity.
Each particle, molecule, organelle, cell, organ, person, community, and civilization has a narrative regarding survival and reproductive success – including sacrifices for the reproductive success of a larger good – that may well hew to the fractal-like narrative storyline outlined above.
As more complex assemblies encounter challenges – and react by forming higher-level visions/opportunities, in line with the narrative fractal pattern – new strategies for propagation of the entity’s “code” (valued memes and lumenes) are generated, and new acceptance tests (internal and external) apply. 
The strategies and tests applied in successful higher-level assemblies, I believe, follow "exaptive" paths ( ) generated by stacking narrative fractals – e.g. attractors, challenges and opportunities – valued by the entities making up the assembly. In cases where dissonance exists in the assembly's memes and lumenes (in #Ebdish, when Cognitive and Emotional waves are out of sync), tensions arise. This tension in turn prompts the assembly to search for new attractors that point to narrative fractals capable of resolving the challenge, and realizing a higher level opportunity via a feasible strategy.
In whatever paths this evolution may have followed to date, my hunch is that intelligent participants – human, artificial, or hybrid – will continue to use deep fractal-like narrative patterns in their environment, and to form trusted assemblies to deal with the attractors and challenges in more resilient and adaptive ways.
If the universe is wired in a benevolent way, consilient memes and lumenes propagated through the interactions of these intelligent forms will lead to non-zero sum outcomes for all of our descendents.
These ideas are in very early stages - look forward to conversations that can help them evolve and thrive!
 Author:  Mark Frazier, OpenWorld