Sunday, March 9, 2014

Algorithms, Story, and the Toolkits of Reality and Imagination

An algorithm is a methodical set of steps or procedures needed to produce a result.  You start constructing an algorithm by visualizing the desired consequence.  

You want to construct an algorithm for exercising a dog, for instance.  The first step is to find out if the dog likes to chase and retrieve thrown balls.  If the dog does not like to chase balls, perhaps it will think differently about a bone.  The dog loves the bone, but thinks it a dumb move for you to throw the bone.  No luck there.  Try taking the dog for a walk.

The approaches are different, yet the result remains the same, a fact that demonstrates the goal-oriented nature of algorithm.  You are on the verge of amending the previous definition:  a systematic series of steps taken to provide a specific result.

You admire this kind of methodical approach to problem solving and achievment of results.  To the extent you allowed yourself to be, you were educated to connect a series of necessary steps with a specific goal in mind.  You enjoy the feeling of putting such approaches to work when you are confronted with day-to-day tasks associated with effective performance in Reality.  

This enjoyment you experience has been nurtured over time; it has an algorithmic sense to it in that the enjoyment is done in anticipation of the times you have not had effective plans for dealing with Reality.  

The consequences of not having effective algorithms are uniform consequences in the degree of pain, which itself has tributaries including the loss of time, the need to re-do something you had not wished to do in the first place, and the potential for late fees.

Being a step or two beyond minimally effective in dealings with reality gives you more time to read, to write, and to explore the labyrinths of story.

You still feel a bit of embarrassment about your earliest beliefs that story not only could but as well should be constructed as though by a dramatic algorithm.  In such a case, you'd have to know the outcome you wished to achieve.  Although this is possible, the results you got were anything but pleasing to you.

The unpleasantness of believing you could not produce stories this way led you to the kind of breakthrough necessary to take the learning process to a new plateau.  It is a good thing to understand algorithms, to have them in the toolkit of implements for dealing with Reality, and be able to rely on them.  With recipes and formulas, you are able to recreate such things of value to you as your mother's cabbage soup and noodle pudding.  You are able to plan algorithms.

Yet another good thing is the knowledge that you write stories to discover the endings, keep revisiting and rewriting until there is an ending you'd not thought it possible for you to know.  At about the time algorithm and story, two vital things in your life, took on different paths, you began to see a similar approach to the then and now of your education.  Formulas and recipes are great in their way, but not for story, not for discovery.

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