26 January 2006

Usual-stories on the Tree of Life

"Many people think that history is a dull subject. Dull? Is it 'dull' that Jesse James once got bitten on the forehead by an ant, and at first it didn't seem like anything, but then the bite got worse and worse, so he went to a doctor in town, and the secretary told him to wait, so he sat down and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and then finally he got to see the doctor, and the doctor put some salve on it? You call that dull?" --Jack Handey

every true story
is infinitely complex

but every complex story
can be simplified
to any arbitrary degree

(as the ensembles of code fragments
that embody them
may be larger or smaller)

we previously ranked
the stories of one human's life
in order of their significance

and the stories of all lives
in order of frequency of occurrence

and we should note that
in the latter case
but not the former
complex stories will rank
their own simplifications

but that some simple stories
will be less common
than other, more-complex ones

(to be hit on the head
by a falling star
is rare but simple)

now suppose we take this latter
and represent it as a number line
with evenly-spaced points
for each story/concept/code-ensemble

and suppose we thumbtack the zero-end
and rotate the rest
so each numbered point
traces an evenly-spaced concentric circle

and then we break the 'links'
between circles
so the points of the line-that-was
now rotate independently
each within its own concentric circle

and we connect the points for complex stories
(their circles farther out)
to their various simplifications
(circles closer in)
with elastic lines
so that similar stories
are drawn into closer clusters

we should now have
a concentric ontology
from simpler at the center
to more complex, farther out

and a person's memories and imagination
can be pictured as being stored here

(where previously we 'flattened'
the nervous system
to represent the mental state
this representation is unsatisfactory
because we face the problem
of not knowing which neurons
hold which sorts of memories

so we may substitute this
radial ontology

after shrinking it to fit
within the hat-sized
of any branch)

a simpler story
will have many possible

but one of these must be
the commonest

so we might align these
commonest complexifications
into a straight line
radiating from simpler
straight outward

which we'll call the 'usual story'
implied by any simple one