Monday, May 16, 2016

The Dramatic Genome

Many of your early years were spent recognizing the shapes and forms of things, which, in retrospect, seems to have been a valuable thing to have done. Almost without realizing it, you were able to distinguish numerous things from their look-alike and, in similar fashion, to classify things of similar appearance into groups. An important moment arrived one day when, almost withiout realizing it, you were able to distinguish a zebra from a horse.

You would later learn, to considerable interest, if not wild enthusiasm, that both the horse and zebra could be classified under the same genus, Equus, the horse going on to stand with the E. ferus species, while the zebra, had a choice of standing with its brothers and sisters in a number of species, such as the quagga, which, for a zebra would be the equivalent of having the family name of Smith because the quagga zebra is as common among zebras as Smith is among--well, you get it.

The early years thrills of recognition may have been blunted by an increased ability to distinguish similar things from one another. Then came the adjunct, but additional ability to classify things you might have at one time pitched a tizzy fit to denounce as having nothing in common. 

This is not to say you get no sense of satisfaction from the recognition of how some things are different and some things that seem different are not so different, nor to suggest you go about the warp and weft of your days in the blasé haze of thinking everything is same, so why bother to distinguish them.

All of this leads you to suspect with some vigor how hard-wired you are to the narratives of fiction, in particular those narratives designed to deliver greater emotional and intellectual responses than those coming from your ability to distinguish various forms, shapes, and types from other, multifarious forms, shapes, and types. 

This is to say you get more satisfaction from certain types of story such as mysteries, speculative fictions, alternate universe novels, thrillers in which individuals survive against enormous odds, and spy/espionage novels, in which individual loyalties appear even more divided that the divisions found in more general narratives.

You are more than a little suspicious of stories in which you deduce an overriding attempt to demonstrate some common law of ethics, or to suggest that life is beautiful, thus we should with some immediacy get up and enjoy it. Thus your taste translates into fact; even idiosyncrasy can, under the proper circumstances, be fact.

The further fact emerges in the form of two parallel lines developing within the individual. At about the same time the human youngster is learning to distinguish shapes and forms, the better to identify the explosions of new sensations the child will encounter in the growing process, the same young individual is being taught to identify the arrangement of events into the kinds of strands we think of as story.

There is in fact a dramatic genome we humans have as a part of our individual make-up. We are wired to identify events linked together in some causal pattern. Depending on our individual preferences, we respond to certain stories with greater enthusiasm and interest than we show for others.

The more highly evolved our preference for those strands of events, the greater a distinction we are able to make between poetic justice, which is cultural in its origin, and dramatic justice, responses that nurture and develop within us.

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