On the Unraveling of Scripts

by Venkat on June 6, 2013

I am fascinated by scriptlessness: the state of not having a script telling you what to do. I’ve danced around this question a lot in my writing, mostly with reference to the American middle-class life script. But I’ve never really tackled the phenomenon head-on.

I’ll define scripts as collections of learned patterns of behavior that reliably supply both psychological and material resources for survival.  These lend meaning and sustenance to power the script, respectivelyBoth are necessary, and any loss on one front, if not quickly reversed, usually leads to loss on the other, triggering a vicious cycle of increasingly severe script breakdown.

This is the unraveling of scripts. It is the subjective experience of collapsing social and material realities around you, leading eventually to a state of behavioral collapse: scriptlessness. Along the way you encounter all those demons poets like to talk about.

Scripts can collapse for groups and organizations, not just individuals, but let’s start with individuals.

The Nature of Scripts

Let me say a little bit more about scripts before I talk about how they unravel.

script in the sense of a performed play is more than the guiding narrative, stage directions and dialog. Actors also engage in many behaviors that are necessary to complete the performance but are not specified in the script. They may sit down, open doors, sip coffee, display appropriate expressions, and so forth. Much of the energy of the performance is actually in the highly varied behaviors that must accompany performance.

So the script induces a lot more action than it specifies, by cueing patterns of behavior that already exist in the culture (so a script is something like a program in a high-level language that makes extensive use of API calls and library functions, unlike raw machine code). In the case of improvisation, the script is also driven by these patterns. Most scripts are some mix of pre-scripted and improvised (or feedforward and feedback).

What can we say about these patterns?

  • They may be unconscious habits or deliberately executed recipes.
  • They may be acquired through deliberate learning or conditioning you never noticed while it was happening.
  • They may work to maintain the conditions of your life (habits) or drive anticipated changes (narrative evolution).
  • They may be purely symbolic and only affect meaning (empty rituals) or purely instrumental and only affect sustenance (arbitrary procedures).

We can say a lot more, but that will do for a thumbnail sketch.

If meaning erodes in a script, motivation erodes, creating the important-but-not-urgent problem of anomie. This can happen, for instance, when you move to a new job in a new city where you have no friends and suddenly realize that all meaning in your old life was derived from a few workplace friendships.

If the sustenance becomes uncertain, the material quality of life starts to deteriorate, creating the urgent-but-not-important (for individuals in reasonably developed societies) problem of immediate survival. This can happen for instance, when economic shifts make your skills worthless at age 45 and you have no savings to fall back on.

If both are eroding simultaneously, you are inching towards an existential crisis.

As the unraveling continues, not only do losses (of meaning and sustenance) accumulate, the rate of loss usually accelerates exponentially, since both meaning and sustenance are compounding processes.

Irreversibility in Script Unraveling

Scripts can unravel in irreversible ways, with losses increasing in severity as they spiral down into unsolvable problems.

On the sustenance front, your skills might be enduring and setbacks temporary. Maybe you can easily learn a new skill that takes low marginal learning effort relative to an existing skill. Or maybe your existing skills are just temporarily in recession, and might make a comeback. Savings, loans and a little learning effort will solve that kind of problem.

But the sustenance source might also be drying up irreversibly. Maybe everything you know has to do with the manufacture of photographic film and you can’t think of any other use for those skills. Or your financial burdens are so high that you cannot afford the time to learn anything that can replace what you’ve lost. You become downwardly mobile.

Similarly, on the meaning front, you might experience a bout of transient depression and recover fully, or experience an irreversible, terminal loss of meaning — a loss of innocence of some sort for instance.

You can usefully distinguish two kinds of irreversibility in an unraveling to a scriptless state.

The absolute kind of irreversibility is easier to understand. It is caused by lack of necessary external resources required to meet psychological and material needs. Death due to starvation/destitution/healthcare being out of financial reach, as well as suicide driven entirely by psychological trauma (say solitary confinement for a highly extroverted person, or bullying/hazing for a troubled teen with no adult support) fall into this category.

The relative kind is when the irreversibility is relative to a particular script rather than the material environment. So for example, if you cannot find a job despite your best efforts, the loss is only irreversible within a nominal script that says a job is the only way to derive sustenance. If you are willing to adopt a different script based on short-term gigs, the relative irreversibility might go away, with no material change in the environment.

If all your meaning in life is derived from community and friendships, but you are able to discover a new script that provides a different kind of meaning from solitary creative work, the irreversibility associated with loss of friends again goes away.

You can’t do much about absolute irreversibilities. They have to do with fundamentally irreplaceable kinds of material or psychological resources. But fortunately they are not as common as the relative kind. In practice, relative irreversibility is by far the most important kind.

The key to tackling relative irreversibility in script unraveling is ideas. But few people seem to appreciate the subtleties of how ideas and unravelings interact, which leads to incredibly naive and inefficient use of ideas to solve problems.

So let’s talk about that.

Ideas are Cannibals

The mere existence of an accessible alternative script does not mean it will be accessed, so relative irreversibility can kill just as surely as the absolute kind can.

But the reason there is more hope in the relative case is that you might be able to weave a new script even as the old one is unraveling, starting with just an idea. 

Ideas are a very unique sort of resource because they can be generated entirely internally, unlike material resources. Even if nothing in the material environment changes, something might click in your head, making you see your environment differently, allowing you to solve what is, within your old script, an impossible problem.

But what exactly is an idea? I only recently realized that I’ve never actually attempted to define the term. I’ve only circled around it with near-synonyms like “insight.” But here’s a shot at it: ideas are cannibals. 

More precisely, every  idea is fundamentally a cannibalization hypothesis. I am convinced this is true of even the most abstract and metaphysical ideas (for the philosophers among you, yes this is radical empiricism in disguise).

This is obvious in simple cases involving only sustenance (breaking eggs to make omelettes).

It is harder to see in the case of meaning (as in superhero mythologies effectively desecrating religious mythologies).

It is even harder to see when an idea involves both material and psychological substitutions, simultaneously changing meaning and sustenance sources.

It is hardest to see when the vicious cycle of unraveling has progressed so far that ideas are about  patterns of substitution of material and psychological resource complexes. 

We call these complex beasts visions, and the process of realizing them from small, generative seed ideas missions.

But the cannibalistic aspect is what people don’t usually appreciate. Simple or complex, seed ideas don’t start growing into visions in a vacuum. Ideas are inextricably linked to the unraveling scripts — destruction processes — within which they are planted, and on which they feed.

Creation is fueled by destruction, materially and psychologically, not just accompanied by it. You only need to walk into a grocery story to appreciate the beautiful canvas of ongoing destruction of life laid out for your creative pleasure.

Script Shifts

When seeds of complex ideas are injected into unraveling scripts, behavior patterns are forced to change. The shift from coal to oil was merely a material substitution in a source of sustenance, with limited impact. But the idea of renewable resources involves replacing a script derived from the idea of endless progress with one derived from the idea of sustainability, and creating a corresponding wholesale shift in behavior patterns.

This is why human societies have continued to traffic in ideas tens of thousands of years after they first started having them. Ideas are how we cannibalize old realities to create new ones. This is why, when we resort to harsh material intervention measures when we suspect a good idea will do the trick, we call it brute force. This is why we resist brute force that we see as premature with the complaint, “are we out of ideas?”

It is also why, despite my action-oriented friends mercilessly making fun of me for being addicted to insight porn and armchair “refactoring,” ideas remain the mainstay of my writing (and getting people and organizations unstuck remains my favorite kind of consulting work, even though other kinds of work pay better).

We are rarely in situations so extreme that we run out of script-switching ideas before we run out of time. The prototypical example is falling off a cliff. There are no known ideas that will allow humans to fly without specialized material resources (this is partly why Arthur Dent learning how to fly in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by “missing the ground” is so funny; it is the adult version of the classic gag in cartoons for kids: characters who only fall after they notice they’ve walked off a cliff).

If we could rewind  time, there might be no irreversible unraveling at all (that is the premise of Groundhog Day).

Whether or not they work, ideas trigger discontinuous changes in behavior, even if decline is arrested and reversed only gradually, or not at all.  Since scripts are patterns of behavior, the best ideas are generally seed behaviors that can induce entire new scripts comprising a whole new universe of behavior patterns derived from the seed behaviors, with collapsing old habits snowballing into new personalities and stories.

The only problem is that generating a new script from a seed is time-consuming, while unraveling is a fast process.  Creation is slower than destruction.

This seems like a timing problem: it is tempting to believe that if you seed a new script sufficiently early, with a sufficiently powerful idea, you can switch painlessly. In practice this never happens because energy reserves are almost entirely absorbed by the active, unraveling script. The pace of cannibalization to fuel new scripts is limited by the pace of unraveling of old scripts.

In other words, the pain of an irreversible unraveling is unavoidable, even when you know it is the transient kind caused by relative rather than absolute irreversibility. You can anticipate it, but not avoid it entirely.

Which is why it is worth examining the pain of unraveling more carefully.

The Painful Descent Into Scriptlessness

When you put (relative) irreversibility, sustenance and meaning together, you get eight states you might encounter on the way to complete scriptlessness. For completeness, let’s include a state zero: a scriptful state that has reliable sources of sustenance and meaning.

The process is general, but I’ll use labels specific to an unraveling American middle-class life to illustrate.

  1. Unemployment: Reversible loss of sustenance, no loss of meaning
  2. The Blues: No loss of sustenance, reversible loss of meaning
  3. Crisis: Reversible loss of sustenance, reversible loss of meaning
  4. Catstrophic loss: Irreversible loss of sustenance, no loss of meaning
  5. Burnout: No loss of sustenance, irreversible loss of meaning
  6. Blanche du Bois: Irreversible loss of sustenance, reversible loss of meaning
  7. Bartleby: Reversible loss of sustenance, irreversible loss of meaning
  8. Up or Out: Irreversible loss of sustenance, irreversible loss of meaning

It is no accident that it is easier to find more sharply defined archetypes as the unraveling gets more severe. This is Tolstoi’s “happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” effect. A script in an advanced state of unraveling tends to create a very unique environment, so it is easier to point out examples than describe the state in a general way. My labels for 6 and 7 represent archetypal examples rather than class characteristics.

Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener can be read as the relationship between an individual approaching state 5 observing someone approaching state 8. Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire can be read as the tragic story of an individual transitioning through states 6, 7 and 8 (the downwardly mobile Blanche duBois ends up institutionalized rather than dead, which can be considered a fall into a sub-human script).

At the risk of offending some, let me offer you what engineers call a state transition diagram. From left to right, you get increasingly unstable and unpleasant states. I have only included the most important transition paths. The state of scriptlessness is what I’ve labeled up or out. The corresponding diagram for absolute irreversibility would have the label death for that state.

scriptlessness

You can read this diagram in a few different ways.

  • As an illustration of the details of a discontinuous “reorientation”, which makes this the generative element animating the OODA loop (OODA aficionados will note the similarity between ideas as cannibals and Boyd’s snowmobile motif).
  • As the abstract, descriptive basic building block of social reality. By creating a compilation of such diagrams, with more situation-specific labels, you should be able to describe (for instance) “Middle Class Life in America” with almost enough formality to turn it into a psychologically realistic computer game world.
  • As a description of all human thought and action based on conceptual constructs, the mode of existence that monks seek to entirely break out of.
  • For those of you who have read my Gervais Principle series, this is a sort of abstract version of the ideas developed figuratively there.
  • For those of you who have read my book, Tempothis is sort of the fractal generator behind the narrative models there (the connection takes some work to understand though, since those models describe the view from the creative side).

I mainly use this sort of diagram at a pen-and-paper level to think through unraveling processes, but I have idle ambitions of someday doing a sort of “social order creative destruction genome project” based on it.

Up or Out

When you land in a scriptless state, you either need to find an idea to seed a new script before time runs out, achieve mind-like-water enlightenment, or give up and die.

When social realities are stable, seeding a new script does not take much creativity. You simply transition through increasingly powerful and meaningful scripts via formal or informal initiation and imitation. Leveling up is easy when the level already exists and there are more experienced players there to learn from.

You might spend so little time in the non-green states that you never develop an understanding of scriptlessness.

But sometimes the Game of Life breaks down.

When entire large populations are thrown into scriptless states, you get suicide epidimics. This happened in post-Soviet Eastern Europe and is starting to happen in the US with Boomers.

So Up or Out isn’t just yet another gloomy thought I am manufacturing. It isn’t just an obsession for writers with dark sensibilities like Tennessee Williams or Herman Melville.

It’s a real thing.

But the good news is that during a period of widespread unraveling, most of the victims are victims of relative irreversibility rather than absolute. In other words, the right idea can potentially save the day. Ideas matter.

In fact, the more widespread the epidemic of individual unraveling scripts, the more powerful ideas become, and the less effective brute force becomes.

Let’s talk briefly about such epidemics: the unraveling of collective scripts.

Unraveling of Collective Scripts

When a shared script is working well, you get a harmonious social order. The fortunes of members of the collective evolve in a relatively synchronized way.

But when a shared script breaks down, the unraveling proceeds at varying rates. The harmony turns into a cacophony. Small differences in individual situations lead to large differences in rates and patterns of unraveling. Often, the most perfect instances of the script unravel the fastest, while messy and noisy instances collapse more slowly.

The result is widespread fear, uncertainty and doubt — FUD — in subjective experiences, individual and collective, and VUCA — volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity — in environmental conditions.

This gives collective unraveling a very different feel from individual unraveling. When an individual script unravels within a social order that is working for everybody else, the result is a very lonely sort of tragic descent from the center to the margins of that social order. Examples are Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and John Updike’s Rabbit novels.

But when there is a collective unraveling, individual collapsing scripts feed off each other, creating far greater turbulence in the shared material and psychological resources of the collective.

The variety of collective forms that can experience shared unraveling of scripts is dizzying, so I’ll just do two examples: nations and corporations.

Nations

For a nation, the trough of collective scriptlessness is far more likely to degenerate into violence than for individuals (World War I, the French revolution, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the India-Pakistan partition, the ongoing Arab Spring).

When collective unraveling advances, things get a lot messier. Every character in the story experiences an unraveling. Instead of the estrangement of an isolated individual from the rest of the society, you get active conflict. A great illustration is Les Miserables.  The character arcs of Jean Valjean and Javert both weave tragically through a broader tragic mess (I am tempted to use a cruder phrase that rhymes with Buster duck), with their individual sorry lives made worse by their mutual conflict.

My previous examples (Bartleby and Blanche duBois) are stories set somewhere between individual and collective unravelings. Each is a story of  individual unraveling at an advanced stage set in within a collective unraveling at an earlier stage.

A national unraveling is the equivalent of forest fire: a violent conflagration fueled by too much dry deadwood. Here’s a picture of the same state diagram, but with different labels.

nationScriptless

 

The delusion propagated by  Washington, DC, that the United States is merely in some sort of reversible yellow “jobless growth” state and out of a recession is as laughable as Blanche duBois’ desperate keeping-up of appearances and mad belief in the “kindness of strangers.” The paradox inherent in the phrase reveals the unresolved stress in the situation.

After a decade of emergency measures, we are in a sui generis “unhappy families” state only slightly more quasi-stable than post-Communism Eastern Europe.

This is a narrative state that cannot be put into a convenient pigeonhole invented by economists. When economists invent a label like “jobless growth” suggesting an economic regime that can be understood in general terms, they create a false sense of reassurance that they know where we are, that others have been there before, and they know what is going on.

The only thing the United States in 2013 shares with others who’ve “been there before” like Russians in 1998, is the closeness to true scriptlessness (if you don’t believe me, read the Wikipedia entries on “quantitative easing” and “Perestroika” for similar entertaining little fantasy stories about people who believe/believed they are/were in control of complex unravelings).

Along a different path of unraveling, we are nearly as close to national scriptlessness as the Middle East.

Corporate Unraveling

On a smaller scale, you can see similar processes in declining companies. It is never pretty, but it is less severe than nations unraveling, and reversals are often possible with smaller, less imaginative ideas and limited pain.

The trough to be navigated can often be delineated in stark financial terms, in terms of share price movements,  revenue shortfalls and gap funding requirements to navigate a tough turnaround. Every time I talk to a veteran of a struggling company or industry, I hear the same story: a difficult change of direction framed by hard financial constraints.

Senior executives are often unable to see the situation in any way besides such stark financial portraits, which exacerbates the problem. Seed ideas that might trigger a new script are rarely found in balance sheets or delicate share-price management operations that define the state of the unraveling. But the last thing an executive in crisis mode wants to do is listen to signals from outside the boardroom, C-suite and Wall Street.

corpScriptlessness

Startups aren’t actually that different from large corporations trying to execute difficult turnarounds. They are merely feeding off more distant unravelings.

The Poverty of Abstract Creative Processes

This idea that creation feeds on destruction is why, I think, I am so reluctant to manufacture abstract prescriptions out of any of my ideas, and why I tend to methodological anarchy in synthesis.

Synthesis feeds on unraveling scripts. Ideas are cannibals that devour specific collapsing realities to grow. They don’t grow on blank canvases. They are not built out of neat, prepared kits.  Creative destruction is a flow from an unraveling reality into an emerging one.

Describing a process of creation in the form of an abstract prescription hides what must be destroyed and consumed in order to actually fuel that creation. It is like starting to cook with a recipe without looking in the fridge first to see what you have. This is why “software is eating the world” is such a good assessment of the current epidemic of unraveling, though I suspect I understand it in a far darker sense than Marc Andreessen meant it. But such acknowledgement of destruction is rare.

Ironically, the refusal to acknowledge necessary destruction — usually out of a desire to focus on “positive” things — exacerbates the destruction. It also slows down and risks derailment of the creation.

Is there any value in abstract prescriptions? Possibly some, in the early stages of an epidemic of similar unravelings, when you are dealing with relatively happy, relatively alike victim scripts.

But unraveling scripts get more unique as they progress (the “unhappy families” effect) and a generative seed that grows by feeding on an unraveling script is usually specific to that script.

A simple illustration is Lego model construction. What model you construct, and how you construct it, depends on what model or models you are taking apart, and how. The pieces you need may not become available according to the logic of the clearest and most elegant construction plan. You can influence the unraveling a little, but not a lot. You can anticipate the sequence somewhat, but not completely.

Another way of saying this is that creation has to be path and personality dependent because it feeds on destruction, which is necessarily path and personality dependent. The banal way of saying this in the business world is people over process and vertical first. These phrases hide deeper, messier truths.

To create, you have to deeply understand what is being unraveled. When the what is also a who, you need to become what you are trying to destroy (an idea that is very neatly explored in two science fiction books I read over a brief vacation last week, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Iain M. Banks’ Use of Weapons). The more you can do that, the faster you can feed on unraveling to create new realities.

If you can do it perfectly, you are a Phoenix of sorts.

jld June 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm

The 5 ->6 and 4->7 arrows show “irreversible-to-reversible” transitions and there are no 4->8 nor 5->8 arrows, can you explain?

Venkat June 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Aargh, pure paper-napkin sloppiness on the first, “not showing all possible transitions” on the second. Will fix at some point.

Jordan Peacock June 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

This dovetails really nicely with the book I’m reviewing right now, which talks about the “thermodynamics” of social change; the costs associated with systems maintenance, the maintenance of organizations in the face of entropy, etc.

In the political sphere this is a necessary corrective, where so many insist that an immaterial, semiotic form of activism is sufficient for social transformation.

jld June 8, 2013 at 2:16 am

Hmmm…
This is one of your most outstanding posts and I don’t see that many comments.
I suspect this hits too close to home for a lot of people.

Venkat June 8, 2013 at 3:03 am

Nah. It’s a mix of people abandoning me after GP finale and too conceptual an approach. I like doing that occassionally for my own benefit in between more concrete example-driven posts. These DIY/assembly required posts never do as well as more finished ones that put examples first and a motif cherry on top. But they help me. More tooling than product. I’ll be using this post to anchor other more finished ones.

Dan June 8, 2013 at 7:16 am

As someone who pours over most of your posts and doesn’t comment often, I feel like you’ve done so much more thinking than me on most of the things you write about, that there isn’t much for me to comment on (generally) at the time of reading. I really enjoyed this one as well.

Demdam June 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I agree with Dan above. Usually when I read posts I get a lot out of them, but find no need to comment as the thinking is exhaustive enough that there isn’t anything I can add without spending a lot of time chewing over the post.

I also want to add that I originally came here for the GP series, but have stuck with you since. Maybe I am wrong, but I imagine there are many others like that. If someone likes the GP, I have a hard time believeing they won’t like your other writing.

Venkat June 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Dan, Demdam — I suspect you guys are the exception rather than the rule. Different types of post enjoy clearly different traffic patterns, so some certainly have broader appeal than others.

James H. July 1, 2013 at 8:24 pm

It certainly hit rather close to home for me, particularly as someone who finds themself framing their first move away from home and to a big city in the context of prior ribbonfarm posts more than anything else.

Kay June 8, 2013 at 3:15 am

“Broken beyond repair” – that’s how I would summarize states 4-7. However collapsing them into a single state might lower their rhetoric value.

As always the final state is the most interesting one because of its ambiguity. Religious people have turned death into the beginning of a new live and made a fantasy show out of it, the great European civil wars ( aka WWI and WWII ) have been the foreplay of the European Union whose decline we experience right now and as I could learn recently, bankruptcy may not be the end but a transitional state in a strategic plan. Gothic business: the insolvency administrator as a consultant. Some companies even have an after-life because their label has become a “cult” among its followers, such as Atari. Unimaginable what happened when Apple collapses.

Our whole culture is now flooded with trash and revivals and although it may be broken beyond repair, chances are that it will last for long and those who expect doomsday will easily become part of the trash wave – something which already happened with the 2012 phenomenon.

The diagrams express a certain classicism, a conventional or “realist” meta narrative about the flow of things. Realism is dogma in Mediocristan. It is “less wrong” or almost always right and like every other strict God you have to give it its due – but where is the fun, the refactoring experiment?

Venkat June 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Yup, no refactoring here. Just a head on attack with a lot of technical debt incurred.

Essk Cioran June 8, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Sir, thank you for existing. I really appreciate your brilliant blog, and, like other readers, typically refrain from spewing into the comments section after receiving my hit of insight porn. Upon this reading I immediately recalled the work of Dr Eric Berne on the matter of scripts although I suspect the reference may be considered naïve, passé, or outré in these circles. I’m curious as to what you’d call the type of thinking/writing you do or who you consider to be your spiritual father or intellectual predecessors because you seem an adept of many disciplines. Hope you keep up the good work.

Venkat June 11, 2013 at 8:58 am

you’re welcome :D

yeah, I’m familiar with Berne’s transactional analysis stuff. I quite like it, and have cited it before here. I definitely don’t think it is naive or passe

Bill Seitz June 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm

No 3×3 matrix of states? Too obvious?

Jorge June 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Nice to read something that makes you ponder. Couple of things about ideas seemed a bit wobbly though.

It is conflicting to say that, “Ideas are cannibals” and “Ideas are a very unique sort of resource because they can be generated entirely internally, unlike material resources”.

If ideas are created entirely internally with no access to material world, what are these suggested cannibals cannibalizing? Conscious mind as a blank slate is not a very promising avenue of inquiry.

There has to be a framework of established concepts or constructs on which you can build your ideas, that is if ideas here are supposed to have any meaning.

Even the framework on which meaningful ideas are built upon is not wholly internal. It too derives from the material world.

ben l June 17, 2013 at 12:27 am

Seemed to me like an unusually high number of literary references and examples for a RF article.

Would it be possible for some civilization to get a handle on scripts, in such a way that they could adapt the script to suit changing conditions without anyone sensing it and descending? I suppose that conditions are too illegible for the oligarchs to engage in successful scriptwriting, but maybe it would be possible to generate an anti-fragile script, one that adapts itself?

Or maybe just the more abstract a script is, the easier it is to shoehorn new realities in and keep things from unraveling.

Larry Irons June 17, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Much like your post on Scott’s concept of “legibility” I suggest your thinking on these issues could benefit from looking at Alfred Schutz, Harold Garfinkel, and Lucy Suchman’s different analyses of the routines of everyday life and what makes them intelligible.

Venkat June 17, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Thanks for the refs. As I like to say, “I do independent thinking/wheel reinvention for free… citation and establishing connections to others’ work, I have to be paid to do.”

Larry Irons (@lirons) June 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Well, that puts a different perspective on the worth of the content for me. The essay on Scott didn’t seem to reflect that stance on expression.

Venkat June 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm

“stance on expression”?

Just calibrating expectations :) I’ve had people get offended when I don’t immediately chase down connections that interest them.

Larry Irons (@lirons) June 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm

No offense taken, I read the Scott essay because I like his work as well as others like Gareth Morgan. Usually what draws me into reading isn’t what is said per se but how the writer pulls together things I already know about.

Duane MacAnaspie July 29, 2013 at 8:39 am

This reminded me of two things: James Hillman’s work “Healing Fiction” and the creative destruction idea of Schumpter.

Hillman is a post-Jungian psychologist whose name might be familiar from the 90′s and “The Souls Code”, of which he was a co-author. The point of “Healing Fiction” is that psychological recovery via therapy comes from rewriting a personal narrative/story/script with healthy outcomes. I really enjoyed that sidetrack and learning more about the ideas of Joseph Campbell, too.

Ideas as cannibals is a tidy explanation coinciding with my non-academic understanding of creative desctruction as it’s used in the media. But I have not thought to put fiction and creative descruction together before.

I’ve come here after working through Part IV of GP and moving to a new computer where the series is not bookmarked. I really like the synthesis of ideas from different disciplines in that series as well as the ideas presented here. Most of the ideas in GP are new, but some, like legibility, I’ve intuited but not articulated. I will be back.

Both Ender’s Game and Use of Weapons are great, btw. I will have to re-read with my new perspective.

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