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-  185   The oral storytelling tradition of philosophy made evident by the dialogues of Socrates and parables of Plato goes underground with the writings of Aristotle. Our sense of what it means to do philosophy comes from Aristotle and his legacy, where the structure of storytelling is replaced by the construction of logical propositions, descriptions of abstractions, and assertions of general “truths.” And so what are we to make of the following?: “The more isolated I become, the more I come to like stories” (Aristotle, fragment 688).These are Aristotle’s words,Aristotle’s desire for stories.They prompt us to think of Aristotle’s story—that he has a story, that he has an autobiographical “I” that has narrated his desire for narrative as a means of lifting him out of the loneliness of what it means to be the solitary thinker who contemplates himself into the philosophical mood. Stories, it would seem, offer Aristotle comfort, call it company, or the sense that others somehow are present by virtue of what it is stories tell, or by how they tell. They as well prompt in him the reference to an “I,” an “I” who does not rise to the textual surface of his strictly philosophical writings, as in the Ethics or Poetics. What’s of particular interest to us about this fragment of Aristotle’s is the intertwining of the “I” and the stories, that they are in relation to one another, that one offers the other the chance at individual presence and mutual recognition.And we have come together in our own intertwining to begin to work through what that relation is about, or perhaps more accurately, why that relation is. The parameters that define what it is narratives accomplish are too vast to disclose, though we can allude to their variety—medical histories, The Neurology of Narrative Coda n Kay Young, Ph.D. Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D. Coda -  186   legal testimonies, psychological portraits, texts of pure fiction, news stories, autobiographies, conversations. The structure of the story surfaces in positions where it both announces and is silent about its presence. When we choose to be in the company of a story by reading a novel or seeing a film, the narrative sets itself off as a narrative, not as a part of our lives; we stand in relation to it as audience to its “performance” as an aesthetic work. However, the storytelling we experience as an event in life can lose its appearance as narrative by virtue of its integration in life. So used to having conversations that function as stories are we that we lose an attention to their nature. So inescapably bound are we to consciousness that we lose sight of how consciousness most often leads us to think.While we can be trained to think in geometrical shapes, patterns of sounds, poetry, movement, syllogisms, what predominates or fundamentally constitutes our consciousness is the understanding of self and world in story. Roland Barthes in his “Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives” comments first about the place of narrative within culture and then about its primacy within the self: [N]arrative is present in every age, in every place, in every society; it begins with the very history of mankind and there nowhere is nor has been a people without narrative. All classes, all human groups, have their narratives , enjoyment of which is very often shared by men with different, even opposing, cultural backgrounds. [Barthes in footnote 1 notes that “this is not the case with either poetry or the essay, both of which are dependent on the cultural level of their consumer.”] Caring nothing for the division between good and bad literature, narrative is international, transhistorical, transcultural: it is simply there, like life itself. (Emphasis ours, 79) Although we scarcely know more about the origins of narrative than we do about the origins of language . . . it may be significant that it is at the same moment (around the age of three) that the little human “invents” at once sentence, narrative, and the Oedipus. (124) This movement in Barthes from his consideration of the presence of narrative within culture to his musings about the origins of narrative in the “little human” arriving simultaneously with the sentence and sexuality—or, from life as narrative to one’s life as narrative—suggests the coming to narrative is a necessary feature of human development. And to the extent that culture is human development writ large, narrative becomes an inescapable...


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