Volume 0, Issue 0

Get Your Story Straight

In Unfiled on 2019/12/18 at 12:26 am

Get Your Story Straight

First, go read “Brain scans show how ‘collective narration’ shapes our memories” by Emma Betuel, published December 16, 2019 at Inverse. Or, even better, if you have access through the paywall, go read “Collective memory shapes the organization of individual memories in the medial prefrontal cortex” at Nature. I’ll wait right here.

Didn’t read it? Doesn’t matter. The upshot is that what you know is filtered through the murky swamp of “what everybody knows.” Even though “everybody knows” that “what everybody knows” is pretty much garbage.

Let’s look at why “what everybody knows” is garbage next. Or first, if you didn’t bother to read any of the prerequisite material.

The Sieve

In Discussion on 2016/06/15 at 8:39 am

Sieve_of_Eratosthenes_animationImagine a language where there is no need for a word for “real” or “fact” because there are already very clear terms for such things as…

  • conjecture for the sake of exploration
  • conjecture for the sake of entertainment
  • conjecture one really hopes is false
  • conjecture one really hopes is true
  • angry, unfounded accusations one would like to be true so one can feel justified in being angry because one thinks feeling angry without justification is shameful and the purview of toddlers
  • something deep-sounding and vaguely poetic that one asserts because one whimsically confuses beauty with truth
  • something deep-sounding and vaguely poetic that one asserts because one stoically confuses pessimism with prophecy
  • something one is worried about that one actually hopes is not true that one asserts as a provocation in lieu of actually asking the hearer to make the speaker feel better
  • an outright lie to deflect blame from oneself

The Book of Dead Names

In Discussion on 2015/06/27 at 4:21 pm

The Cranium. Leonardo Da Vinci, April 2, 1498

The Cranium. Leonardo Da Vinci, April 2, 1498

Welcome back to high school. In this nightmare, it’s the ninth grade again. You’ve made it through the lunch line, maybe bought some milk to go with the sandwich you brought from home to save you from having to face green beans that were harvested when Nixon was president, imprisoned since then in a can large enough to have contained an adult human’s head, decanted along with nine other identical cans into a huge steel vat, and boiled for six hours or until spreadable.

Now it’s time to choose a table. For those of you who need it, here’s a hint. This is a metaphor for being born.

You see the cool kids’ table and know better than to try. Something tells you that you’d need an invitation, and you’re right. You watch and you listen, and you one of them declare a petitioner a nerd and wave her off in the direction of the Nerd Section. So now you try to work out the map and the rules.