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Old 12-12-2006, 10:32 AM   #41
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he forgot to mention the conflicts of E. Honda and Chun-Li

Nice! LOL!
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Old 12-12-2006, 10:37 PM   #42
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Nemel, I don't have the energy to address every misinterpretation regarding my views, so will have to confine myself to addressing only one:

And, assuming the concept WAS western in origin, why is that necessarily a negative thing?
If you reread what I wrote, you will see that I did not anywhere imply that the concept was a negative thing because of its origin in the west. So this is just a straw man.

I was not clear enough about this earlier*: I mean a particular conception of conflict, not everything that anyone would ever describe as conflict. This particular conception usually involves a certain element of psychodrama, which goes hand in hand with the idea of identification, and the conflict is usually violent in nature.

*though thought it was implicit and tried to say with "Conflict is conflict only if it is perceived as such."

I know many people would call two non-identical desires presented in drama conflict. But this is the western prejudice that sees conflict where only life in all its multiplicity is present. It is only a particular worldview and only one way of seeing things. It comes about because of the underlying dualist assumption according to which everything comes down to negative and positive, or male and female, or our side and their side, and so on.

It is the narrow-mindedness I was referring to, an impoverished conception of drama or storytelling that tries to reduce everything to dualist terms. There are other worldviews where none of the issues, desires, or relationships presented are viewed as conflicts.

They can be seen as interaction, or the dance of life, or meaningless chaos, or a single system in operation. Are your blood vessels and veins in conflict because they need different things? This is not semantics, unless the very nature of how someone experiences the world is semantics. Life is not just this or that or even the other, it is many things.

I know I expressed these thoughts poorly. That's okay, though. I'm not looking to change anyone's views and honestly, I don't have the stamina to go into the issues further now, even if this were the place for it.

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Last edited by Simo Sakari Aaltonen; 12-12-2006 at 10:53 PM. Reason: Clarity.
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Old 12-13-2006, 05:00 AM   #43
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Well, since you don't have the "stamina" to actually allow your views to be argued with, I won't bother to argue with them.
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Old 12-13-2006, 05:43 AM   #44
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While two non-identical desires don't necessarily create conflict (I want coffee, you want whiskey), they can result in that outcome (I want coffee, but it's locked in your house; You want whiskey, but are broke; etc.).

I'm not sure that the preference for a One who solves the problem and saves the day is immature or adolescent. I think instead it is millenia old (Gilgamesh; Beowulf; Moses; Jesus Christ; etc.) and a very natural human instinct. In fact, the existance of the Beowulf would disprove that story is conflict and resolution is a Western idea of "very recent" invention. Unless 750 A.D. is recent. Plus stories without conflict have an overriding tendency to be, almost by definition, boring. Can anyone imagine a Hamlet where everyone gets along? Or a book where Mr Hyde is kind and charitable, beloved by all?

Besides, Rambo kicks ass!

For adventure gaming, it poses a very great difficult to put the player in control of a large force that will cooperatively solve a puzzle. Maybe Gobliiins is the only one I can think of...? And three goblins does not a large force make. Maybe a game where you have to switch characters and use unique skills to solve puzzles?

Interesting ideas, though, all of them - and worth thinking about.

BTW, what on earth is "psychodrama"?

Last edited by QFG; 12-13-2006 at 05:57 AM.
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Old 12-13-2006, 07:30 AM   #45
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For adventure gaming, it poses a very great difficult to put the player in control of a large force that will cooperatively solve a puzzle. Maybe Gobliiins is the only one I can think of...? And three goblins does not a large force make. Maybe a game where you have to switch characters and use unique skills to solve puzzles?
Infocom had a great game called Suspended, published in the '80s, which featured this idea. You played a human aboard a space station that was run by robots. You were to be awoken from suspended animation to handle the worst emergencies. You commanded six robots, each with different functions. For example, one had superior sound sensors. There was one called Waldo (Heinlein alert) that had superior manipulators. The puzzles were ingenious and diabolically difficult. One of the best adventure games of all time, in my opinion, despite its lack of graphics.
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Old 12-13-2006, 08:15 AM   #46
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I feel like I am in a university dormitory with a bunch of drunk philosophy majors.

But, this post contributes little, so back to you!
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Old 12-13-2006, 08:26 AM   #47
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For adventure gaming, it poses a very great difficult to put the player in control of a large force that will cooperatively solve a puzzle. Maybe Gobliiins is the only one I can think of...? And three goblins does not a large force make. Maybe a game where you have to switch characters and use unique skills to solve puzzles?
Anachronox and Omikron are the ones come to my mind.In DOTT also you control 3 different characters.And I-jet had very interesting premises about online co-op puzzle solving.
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Old 12-13-2006, 07:26 PM   #48
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If you reread what I wrote, you will see that I did not anywhere imply that the concept was a negative thing because of its origin in the west. So this is just a straw man.
What you said was that it was "nothing more than a western prejudice of very recent invention." Simply saying that it is a very recent prejudice would express your disdain for the concept effectively; if that (the expression of your disdain) was the primary goal, then there was no reason to even mention its western origin. However, you did mention it, which leads me to believe that you see those origins as negative. This might not have been your intent, but that's what I got out of it.

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I know many people would call two non-identical desires presented in drama conflict. But this is the western prejudice that sees conflict where only life in all its multiplicity is present.
Conflict is not two non-identical desires, it is two opposing desires, wills, or forces; this doesn't mean opposite desires or forces, it means desires or forces that oppose one another.. A man needs to go pick up a cake for his son's birthday party, but the bakery misplaced his order, and now he needs to find another bakery willing to bake him a cake on short notice. That's a conflict. The man's desire/need to get the cake is in direct opposition to the fact that he can't find one, and the story will reach its conclusion when he either finds a new one or gives up, resolving the conflict. Conflict is not a negative or a positive, it just is. It is a part of "life in all its multiplicity;" no one here was claiming that it was not. Conflict is, by definition, part of a story; if there's no conflict, it's just a description, not a story. There is nothing wrong with a description, it just isn't the same thing as a story, which is what I've been trying to say. A story is a specific type of description, namely a sequence of related events that begins, has a middle, and ends. A description is simply "here's what happened at such-and-such a time," regardless of what happened. The type of game you are describing would be basically the visual equivalent of a description; things can happen, but they aren't necessarily related to each other and do not effect one another in a causal manner. The emphasis would be on the tangible rather than on the events, or so it seems to me. Nothing wrong with that, but without conflict it can't have a story, it can only have "things that happen."

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Are your blood vessels and veins in conflict because they need different things?
No, and that's a false analogy. That's like saying the Empire State Building is in conflict with the managerial staff of the New York Yankees, because the Yankees need to sell tickets to their games and the Empire State Building needs to resist earthquakes and high winds. Blood vessels and veins aren't the same thing at all, and one's pursuit of things necessary to it does not hinder the other's. There's no conflict at all.
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Old 12-13-2006, 07:34 PM   #49
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Infocom had a great game called Suspended, published in the '80s, which featured this idea. You played a human aboard a space station that was run by robots. You were to be awoken from suspended animation to handle the worst emergencies. You commanded six robots, each with different functions. For example, one had superior sound sensors. There was one called Waldo (Heinlein alert) that had superior manipulators. The puzzles were ingenious and diabolically difficult. One of the best adventure games of all time, in my opinion, despite its lack of graphics.
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Anachronox and Omikron are the ones come to my mind.In DOTT also you control 3 different characters.And I-jet had very interesting premises about online co-op puzzle solving.
Good points!
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Old 12-13-2006, 09:23 PM   #50
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MoriartyL wrote:

Well, since you don't have the "stamina" to actually allow your views to be argued with, I won't bother to argue with them.
Moriarty: I come out and have the honesty to admit that my health does not allow me to engage in long sessions in front of the computer right now, and you ridicule me for that. You can imagine how little I care to hear the arguments of someone who would do that. You also proceed to cheerfully deduce from my admission that I have not the energy to continue the discussion that I want others not to either. Not true.

jacog wrote:
I feel like I am in a university dormitory with a bunch of drunk philosophy majors.
You fight like a cow.

NemelChelovek wrote:

What you said was that it was "nothing more than a western prejudice of very recent invention." Simply saying that it is a very recent prejudice would express your disdain for the concept effectively; if that (the expression of your disdain) was the primary goal, then there was no reason to even mention its western origin. However, you did mention it, which leads me to believe that you see those origins as negative. This might not have been your intent, but that's what I got out of it.
You are still reading things into my words that are not there. I have no disdain for the prejudice being discussed; I use the word prejudice not as an evaluative term but a descriptive one. I could have said preference just as well and meant the same thing: given a choice, westerners tend to prefer this conception of story and drama over others; in other words, they are prejudiced in favour of it, due to the almost exclusive saturation of the culture around them with just it and few of the other conceptions. I added "western" simply to be accurate: the same prejudice is not as prevalent in "non-western" cultures.

To reiterate: I have no disdain for 1) the concept, 2) western cultures, 3) the origins of either the cultures or the concept. Any disdain perceived is in the eye of the beholder.

Conflict is, by definition, part of a story; if there's no conflict, it's just a description, not a story. There is nothing wrong with a description, it just isn't the same thing as a story, which is what I've been trying to say. A story is a specific type of description, namely a sequence of related events that begins, has a middle, and ends. A description is simply "here's what happened at such-and-such a time," regardless of what happened. The type of game you are describing would be basically the visual equivalent of a description; things can happen, but they aren't necessarily related to each other and do not effect one another in a causal manner. The emphasis would be on the tangible rather than on the events, or so it seems to me. Nothing wrong with that, but without conflict it can't have a story, it can only have "things that happen."
You are describing a fairly extreme form of the narrow western conception of story. But where do you get this definition? Dictionary.com gives these definitions for "story":

1. a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.
2. a fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
3. such narratives or tales as a branch of literature: song and story.
4. the plot or succession of incidents of a novel, poem, drama, etc.: The characterizations were good, but the story was weak.
5. a narration of an incident or a series of events or an example of these that is or may be narrated, as an anecdote, joke, etc.
6. a narration of the events in the life of a person or the existence of a thing, or such events as a subject for narration: the story of medicine; the story of his life.
7. a report or account of a matter; statement or allegation: The story goes that he rejected the offer.
8. news story.
9. a lie or fabrication: What he said about himself turned out to be a story.
10. Obsolete. history.
–verb (used with object)
11. to ornament with pictured scenes, as from history or legend.
12. Obsolete. to tell the history or story of.
No mention of conflict anywhere. A story needs only be a succession of events. There is a manga where a man simply walks around looking at things around him. That is a story.

As for causality, that is another western prejudice: we tend to feel there must be causality between the sequence of events in a story. But this does not follow from any of the definitions of story given above; and even the nature of the causality preferred is strictly limited: the findings of quantum physics are kept strictly out of this mechanical definition.

There is nothing wrong with any of these conceptions. What I object to is claiming that only a certain narrow definition of story is accurate, and the rest refer to something other than a story. This is narrow-minded and arrogant, and certainly it is pretty harsh to claim superior knowledge over other cultures in this way; they have always thought of their stories as stories, whether they have featured conflict or causality or not.

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Last edited by Simo Sakari Aaltonen; 12-13-2006 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Clarity.
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Old 12-14-2006, 02:57 AM   #51
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Moriarty: I come out and have the honesty to admit that my health does not allow me to engage in long sessions in front of the computer right now, and you ridicule me for that. You can imagine how little I care to hear the arguments of someone who would do that. You also proceed to cheerfully deduce from my admission that I have not the energy to continue the discussion that I want others not to either. Not true.
I'm pretty sure he thought you were being figurative with the term "stamina." It's often used to describe patience or mental energy. I thought you meant that type of stamina, too.

Quote:
Any disdain perceived is in the eye of the beholder.
It has a lot to do with word choice. "Nothing more than" carries a stigma of dismissal, "prejudice" has taken on a negative connotation. Thus, a sentence that was not intended as disdainful comes out sounding that way.

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But where do you get this definition?
From every teacher and textbook of every writing course I've ever taken since the seventh grade, as well as the works of a number of authors. It's not a dictionary definition, it's a practical definition. A dictionary tells you what a word means; I'm talking about how a concept is constructed. A dictionary isn't going to tell you about aerodynamics or the concept of lift under the definition of "airplane," but those are essential aspects of a plane's construction.

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A story needs only be a succession of events. There is a manga where a man simply walks around looking at things around him. That is a story.
Conflict doesn't have to be between two people. It can be (and quite often is) between a person and himself. There could be all sorts of conflict in even something like a man walking around looking at his environment, especially in a visual media like a manga. You have to take into account what he's saying or thinking, the expressions on his face, the way he's interacting with his environment. Conflict doesn't have to slap you across the face and yell "I'M A CONFLICT!!!!" It's often very small. If it's not present, though, it's not a story. It's a description, which is often confused with a story.

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As for causality, that is another western prejudice: we tend to feel there must be causality between the sequence of events in a story. But this does not follow from any of the definitions of story given above; and even the nature of the causality preferred is strictly limited: the findings of quantum physics are kept strictly out of this mechanical definition.
I can't tell if you're joking or not about the quantum physics thing, but in case you're not: please explain to me how quantum physics dictates the definition of a narrative that consists of no physical matter and has been created or adapted in the mind of an individual. Quantum is primarily concerned with energy and matter, as far as I recall, neither of which make up a story.

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This is narrow-minded and arrogant, and certainly it is pretty harsh to claim superior knowledge over other cultures in this way; they have always thought of their stories as stories, whether they have featured conflict or causality or not.
I'm just telling you what I've heard and seen demonstrated consistently and from a variety of sources for about ten years now. And the word "story" is an English one; what other cultures thought of their stories as is best expressed in their own languages. The word "story" might just be the closest word the English language has for another culture's otherwise-untranslatable concept.

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I feel like I am in a university dormitory with a bunch of drunk philosophy majors.
Coincidentally, I feel like a drunk philosophy major in a university dormitory.
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Old 12-14-2006, 04:47 AM   #52
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I'm not sure that the preference for a One who solves the problem and saves the day is immature or adolescent. I think instead it is millenia old (Gilgamesh; Beowulf; Moses; Jesus Christ; etc.) and a very natural human instinct.
Poor old human weakness... We tremble on the fact that one day we will die and this clouds our thinking. We fear death so much that we are inventing stories of Ones who will save our pity souls. Jesus, Superman, America you name it. Why we can't settle with the fact that we are just flesh and bones and like all things in the universe we will vanish one day just like the dinosaurs did... Couple that with the HUUUUUGE human ego and you have one-man army heroism explained.

To cut the long story short: Deus Ex Machina. The wonderful father that always comes up at the very last moment and save us from harms way. Either mortal or immortal (it doesn’t matter) he is the saviour, the one that takes away the fear of death.
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Old 12-14-2006, 05:50 AM   #53
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Coincidentally, I feel like a drunk philosophy major in a university dormitory.
Coincidentally, I am a drunk philosophy major in a university dormitory.

(I wish.)
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Old 12-14-2006, 07:26 AM   #54
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I once felt a drunk philosophy major in a university dormitory.
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Old 12-14-2006, 08:21 AM   #55
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I come out and have the honesty to admit that my health does not allow me to engage in long sessions in front of the computer right now, and you ridicule me for that.
It wasn't intentional, I'm sure, but simply a misunderstanding. If you are not well at the moment, you are wished good health and a speedy recovery.
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I have no disdain for 1) the concept, 2) western cultures, 3) the origins of either the cultures or the concept. Any disdain perceived is in the eye of the beholder.
I can see that you have no disdain and are merely expressing ideas that appear to “conflict” with others … which makes this a very interesting read. The term "conflict" is incredibly broad and perhaps you were referring initially to what (in my view) is the creatively empty, gratuitous violence we in the West love to promote and protect in the guise of "free speech".
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A story needs only be a succession of events. There is a manga where a man simply walks around looking at things around him. That is a story.
This might describe such episodes as a travelogue which, when done well, does grab attention throughout.
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As for causality, that is another western prejudice: we tend to feel there must be causality between the sequence of events in a story. But this does not follow from any of the definitions of story given above; and even the nature of the causality preferred is strictly limited: the findings of quantum physics are kept strictly out of this mechanical definition.
Now you’re thinking outside the box. I’m fascinated to know (when you're feeling better) how you think concepts of quantum physics can be applied to build innovative mind-bending stories?
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Old 12-15-2006, 12:24 AM   #56
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NemelChelovek wrote:
From every teacher and textbook of every writing course I've ever taken since the seventh grade, as well as the works of a number of authors. It's not a dictionary definition, it's a practical definition. A dictionary tells you what a word means; I'm talking about how a concept is constructed. A dictionary isn't going to tell you about aerodynamics or the concept of lift under the definition of "airplane," but those are essential aspects of a plane's construction.
You argued that a story is not a story unless it features conflict. I was defending the minimum working definition of story, which is also what dictionaries try to do. You must realise that what you have been taught about storytelling consists of a set of cultural constructs that have no limiting force outside that culture. If someone claims that a story has to have such and such in addition to fulfilling the minimum working definition, they are only promoting a prejudice. It may be a very useful approach for a writer who wants to be published, but it is still just one way of looking at it.

Conflict doesn't have to be between two people. It can be (and quite often is) between a person and himself. There could be all sorts of conflict in even something like a man walking around looking at his environment, especially in a visual media like a manga. You have to take into account what he's saying or thinking, the expressions on his face, the way he's interacting with his environment. Conflict doesn't have to slap you across the face and yell "I'M A CONFLICT!!!!" It's often very small. If it's not present, though, it's not a story. It's a description, which is often confused with a story.
Do you mean to say that if the creator of the manga did not think in terms of conflict at all, on any level, that conflict still exists in their work? Meaning it is fair to impose one's own interpretation on the worldview of another and claim it as more authoritative or correct than their own? Then we are back to my analogy of blood vessels and veins. If I write a story featuring nothing but the interaction of blood vessels and veins, would you also see conflict there? That is what I disagree with: interpreting everything in terms of conflict, reducing it to the level of warfare, an awfully limited approach. It has implications far beyond the way we look at stories. If we insist on looking for conflict as always our primary consideration, how could that not affect the very way we experience the world around us?

AprilLives: I really appreciate your words.

Regarding quantym physics, I was referring to the finding that causality breaks down on the quantum level. Cause and effect cease to work the way they do in ordinary physics. (Or logic: If A then B. A, thus B.) Jane Jensen quotes David Bohm's Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980) in Dante's Equation:

One finds, through a study of the implications of the quantum theory, that the analysis of a total system into a set of independently existent but interacting particles breaks down . . . the various particles [of physical matter] have to be taken literally as projections of a higher-dimensional reality which cannot be accounted for in terms of any force of interaction between them.
So causality is not the universal constant it was once thought to be. Or maybe there are many types of causality rather than only the logical cause and effect we expect to find in stories. According to this theory, B does not necessarily follow even if A is present. Yet we still accept only the single type of (logical, positivist, analytical, left hemisphere) causality.

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Old 12-15-2006, 01:26 AM   #57
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You argued that a story is not a story unless it features conflict. I was defending the minimum working definition of story, which is also what dictionaries try to do. You must realise that what you have been taught about storytelling consists of a set of cultural constructs that have no limiting force outside that culture. If someone claims that a story has to have such and such in addition to fulfilling the minimum working definition, they are only promoting a prejudice. It may be a very useful approach for a writer who wants to be published, but it is still just one way of looking at it.
I suppose I've been going about this the wrong way. As a story is an abstract concept defined by humans and humans alone, there really can't be a universal definition. You're never going to change my opinion on what a story is, but by that same token I can't change yours, nor can I claim the right to do so. I don't agree with your definition of story, but seeing as there is no neutral observer with ultimate power over the ultimate decision, I can't claim it as universally wrong. It's just wrong to me, and to the people who taught me this definition. Likewise, my definition is wrong to you. I disagree that it's based around a prejudice; I think it's an idea that is no more or less prejudiced than yours.

Quote:
Do you mean to say that if the creator of the manga did not think in terms of conflict at all, on any level, that conflict still exists in their work? Meaning it is fair to impose one's own interpretation on the worldview of another and claim it as more authoritative or correct than their own? Then we are back to my analogy of blood vessels and veins. If I write a story featuring nothing but the interaction of blood vessels and veins, would you also see conflict there? That is what I disagree with: interpreting everything in terms of conflict, reducing it to the level of warfare, an awfully limited approach. It has implications far beyond the way we look at stories. If we insist on looking for conflict as always our primary consideration, how could that not affect the very way we experience the world around us?
What I was asking was if there was some sort of conflict present that you might not have perceived. I was not saying that conflict imposes itself automatically, nor was I attempting to impose my worldview over someone else's. The view's of a work's creator always take precedence over the views of the work's observers when that work's meaning is concerned, and that's a view I've always held. If the creator avoided a conflict entirely, there would be no conflict, but to me, that wouldn't be a story; he could tell me it was a story all he wanted to, but under my personal definition, it's not. To him, maybe it is, but his definition would be a completely different entity than my own.

Quote:
So causality is not the universal constant it was once thought to be. Or maybe there are many types of causality rather than only the logical cause and effect we expect to find in stories. According to this theory, B does not necessarily follow even if A is present. Yet we still accept only the single type of (logical, positivist, analytical, left hemisphere) causality.
I wasn't talking about causality on the quantum level, I was talking about on the everyday level. Man drops his keys, keys fall, keys crush a beetle, goop gets on keys, man wipes his hands after picking up keys. The goop from inside the beetle can't get on the keys before the beetle has been crushed. The progression of one event to another is what happens in real life. Show me a place where a man dies of a gunshot wound before the gun is fired, and I'll change my views. In reference to events, like the above key-dropping scenario, A does follow B. On a particle or quantum level, things might be different, but that's not the level I'm talking about here.

By the way, in regard to the "left hemisphere" thing: the "left-brained individual" vs. "right-brained individual" view of personality is a myth. All humans use their left and right hemispheres equally; if someone's brain is using one side more than the other, that person has a severe brain disorder.

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Old 12-15-2006, 08:54 AM   #58
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Old 12-15-2006, 09:49 PM   #59
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NemelChelovek wrote:

I don't agree with your definition of story, but seeing as there is no neutral observer with ultimate power over the ultimate decision, I can't claim it as universally wrong. It's just wrong to me, and to the people who taught me this definition. Likewise, my definition is wrong to you. I disagree that it's based around a prejudice; I think it's an idea that is no more or less prejudiced than yours.
Neither definition is wrong, only different from each other... I place the two of us on the same line, both as little or as much prejudiced.

I know you were not talking about causality on the quantum level but I was. There is a fascinating section in Atlantis, The Lost Tales where causality gets slightly out of whack without becoming nonsensical... There is so much potential in that idea.

By the way, in regard to the "left hemisphere" thing: the "left-brained individual" vs. "right-brained individual" view of personality is a myth. All humans use their left and right hemispheres equally; if someone's brain is using one side more than the other, that person has a severe brain disorder.
I was using that old-fashioned expression as shorthand for the quite real difference that can be made between analytical, conscious, verbal thought processes and intuitive, subconscious, nonverbal ones.

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Old 12-16-2006, 01:12 AM   #60
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I know you were not talking about causality on the quantum level but I was.
Ah, ok. I thought you were misinterpreting my use of the term.
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