Chapter 2: The Player Teller | The Narrative Design Explorer™

Chapter 2: The Player Teller

    Eye1An age more contented than our own named our species homo sapiens  rational man. Though noble, Huizinga’s Homo Ludens (the playing man) is certainly more apt, but play itself is not a behavioral trait alone possessed by our species, however evolved it may be within us.

    Equally compelling a  trait is our telling of stories. That is, our relating of the interaction with phenomena and its outcomes. Though too, relation of experience to other members of one’s species is not necessarily unique to homo sapiens. That being said, the level of formality we bring telling to is unparalleled in the known animal world if only by virtue of the various forms we have of it.

    Climbing the evolutionary ladder it appears that the formality of play, like storytelling, also becomes progressively more sophisticated. The highest forms of which are created by our own species. Though, in contemporary memory there exists no interaction with species like our own, one can only imagine that creatures, brethren, like Homoneanderthalis engaged in similar rituals. So too one day will we know what it means to play with species of other worlds, but in this moment our species is the only we know of that engages in such formal play-telling.

    Beyond the formality, what is it we tell? Uniquely? The fruit of infinite play. This differs from the finite games played and told by other species. Games dealing with physiological needs like food and shelter, with clear ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Infinite games are without beginning, without end and have two primary goals – discovering new spaces of possibility and continuing the game at play.  Games like exploration, art, drama, literature and science which may be only human.

    When compounded with the idea of The Playing Man, this understanding renders more clearly a picture of who we may be, the Fabulator Ludus the player teller.  It is here that homo sapiens excel, in the weaving of the hyperverse in play and the relating of the emotional experience in tale, with particular depth and in so many forms.

    Why? It builds the very reality we homo sapiens believe, and hence perceive, ourselves to be in. If a teller is convincing enough, familiar, and persistent we tend to give over to their tales as truth or some simulacrum thereof.  Neural Coupling is the term modern science gives it that proves such a thing. When a teller is convincing the brains of the listeners model that of the tellers mind.

    Not figuratively, or metaphorically, but quite literally. That is, the mind of teller and listener sync.  The engaged listener mirrors what tales a teller weaves,  as indicated by the findings of Greg J. Stephens, Lauren J. Silbert, and Uri Hasson in their paper Speaker–Listener Neural Coupling Underlies Successful Communication. Storytelling propagates belief at a most fundamental level. It’s a sort of mental data transfer between the mind of the teller and that of the listener.

    On a fundamental level all stories witnessed become our own. Stored in mind for later use to understand noumenal encounters – narratives. That is not to say the audience is a fool, however seductive story may be, quite the opposite. They must judge the truth in such telling and decide in their acceptance, primarily in a passive manner,  what is true and untrue. All we know of the world is a fabric of stories told through our lives.

    What differentiates homo sapiens from other animals is the ability to convey the experience of conscious play and its meaningful outcomes to the other in emotive detail. That is to say, the stories we tell are formed from engagement in highly formalized play.

    This is an evolutionary device developed and/or designed for a specific purpose – discovery and survival. The more successful storytellers leading their family, tribe, nation, pack, etc to meet needs of the of the moment in living. We Fabulator Ludens are autonomous machines of story and experience is our narrative fuel used for the generation of  tales innumerable.

    Only such capable eyes may understand the Manifest and its many patterns. We may never know what the hyperverse is without, for as many have said, we see the world only through human eyes and are alas constricted to their human perspective. Though no less real, sometimes it seems the Platonic shadows are all we have.

    In our waking state what we truly seek is the ability to see life as an active protagonist. To see and understand, to act and overcome. In reflection of the heroes of old, we seek activate the power within us all to be drivers of plot in the game-story of life. To play, learn and share. So simple, yet elusive. There one moment and gone the next.

    As Johann Huizinga would have it in his Homo Ludens “Play predates culture.”  So to does storytelling. Play and story are building blocks which fundamentally determine our ability to survive and procreate to live and to tell great stories made of that living. For one who lives to tell the tale well told is one who also creates reality, quite actively manifesting patterns of perception in the minds of his audience. Patterns the audience will use to address future narratives they encounter, altering perception and therein reality as perceived.

    Telling is itself an act of propaganda intended to persuade its audience. Asking them to see within the tellers tale a mirror, a new mode in which to play, live and be. We, with variable amounts of integrity, attempt to convince both ourselves and others as listeners and tellers that ‘reality’ is as we have and do perceive it to be.

    These tellings, relating of memories, inform us, the actor and audience, about how reality functions,  how to be, what to avoid and how to otherwise attain what is desired in life. Quite simply  how to see, be, play and win.

    In some ways it speaks to knowing recognition that beyond the field of phenomena lies a more subtle reality of form. We believe that within our interaction with  reality, our conversations with it, there are lessons to be learned and shared from what was wrought.

    As we spiral through the hyperhelix that is our lives we are constantly valuing, judging and listening based on what we’ve experienced and been told. Simply put, cognitive bias is a common animal drive which actively informs one’s reality.  One simply must presume that it serves some biological function.

    It is here we find Art, Beauty and Truth. This telling, listening, mental modeling – cognitive ingestion of story is layered overtime to produce a thick tapestry of experiences, filters through which we judge encounters with stimuli, nomena in the present moment.

    Life is a narrative, a structure of noumena which underlies experience and is cloaked and revealed by our stories of and about it. We tellers of the infinite story. Patterns perceived and cognitively cannibalized to reinforce or challenge assumptions about the nature of existence and our state within it.

    Play is a significant ritual in the formation of those stories. We engage with the ‘actual’ in order to understand and form belief in the boundaries and limits of being, of existence. From this narrative stories are formed.

    Illustration 1: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
    Illustration 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

    As we move up the Maslows Hierarchy of Needs (see Illustration 1 above) the value conscious beings seek to wretch from playstory, life, changes to serve their needs for sake of survival. The most basic forms of story serves to inform the listener of physiological concerns. Even bee’s are known to have such forms of communication, only decoded in recent years. “The Waggle Dance” as it is known allows bees that are successful in the finite game of resource location and gathering they are able to tell an audience of other bees where the location of their winnings are.

    “In the ‘dance language’ of honeybees, the dancer generates a specific, coded message that describes the direction and distance from the hive of a new food source, and this message is displaced in both space and time from the dancer’s discovery of that source.”

    It becomes clear that play in the field of life and relating of that experience to ones own species is truly a most common evolutionary function serving animals in being successful at achieving base needs.

    The play of other animals like dogs serves even higher on the hierarchy helping define safety and belonging. We too surely engage in such forms of play, though ours at times aim at loftier goals of esteem and actualization. Helping define roles, boundaries and perceptions of self.

    Ones story is a game and ones game is a story.  Art the highest form of Game and Game conversely the highest form of Art. Each life a plotted string of hyperspatial navigation through a seemingly infinite space of possibilities. One is limited only by natural law, perceived possibilities and choice taken in action, for surely each action leads to the next point; Plot is but a stroll through the narrative of  eternity.

    We are Fabulator Ludus – born and reborn again – player-tellers of the greatest narrative known and unknown, left to be agent pushing the perceived boundaries of being through play and our recanting thereof.

    Consciousness is manifest in our being, and indeed all beings, to witness itself and learn of its nature through play – movement in multiple dimensions. Like a body that seeks to know the nature of its inner workings we are sent out of its pulsing heart and into the arteries of the Manifest to find what may lurk within.

    The universe our magic circle in the hyperverse, an open interactive system, a narrative architecture, a game unto which we are born to play and tell. Our conscious active movement, meaningful play, within this system and sharing of its fruits is at the very core of what makes us sentient beings.

    The Golden Ratio