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Chapter 2: Labor and Memory
Arendt (1958) introduces the genius homo laborans to describe the "ape laborers" to differentiate the actors who craft (homo faber) and the actors who speak (homo narrans). The product of labor is specifically not meant to last, but to be consumed immediately. The procurement of food from a plant, the baking of bread, the cutting of grass—each is a labor. The laboring actors is specifically focused on daily needs as opposed to creating durable goods or forging a better union among the polis. The somatic, often rhythmic, use of the body in labor, Arendt (1958) claims, induces greater subjective well-being. In other words labor is the cause of the emotion of happiness. The extents of this claim are not rigorously tested by Arendt (1958), but logic is rooted in the theory of natural selection that would filter for survival those specimens who's neurochemistry rewarded they who labored diligently to survive.
Though a wealthy actor may be able to hire the labor to support his or her life, and buy all the tools and artifacts to keep life comfortable, there are some elements of moment to moment human life that require personal labor. Each person must attend to their bodily functions, and, as of this writing, no one is beyond the need for personal health care. As a unifying thread of the human condition, all humans are predisposed to develop stratagems to meet their needs. The seemingly infinite variety of strategies mostly converge on ensuring survival of the individual actor. The more intelligent the actor, the more dynamic the strategy.
In order to make actionable the human drive to labor for survival and happiness and the tendency to exercise intelligence in the pursuit of happiness, it is necessary to posit a theoretical configuration of human intelligence. Seeking from first principles, Roger Schank’s (1990) text Tell me a story: narrative and intelligence sought to encode intelligence into an artificial information processor. Schank’s (1990) work demonstrates human cognition is governed by the rules of narrative structure. His work offers a baseline for examinations of phenomenon which are dependent upon the human faculty of cognition. Before discussing the ideas of domain or identity, it is necessary to establish how the laborer processes new ideas into memory via narrative patterns.
To convey a memory to another, a narrator knows subconsciously that the audience (or actor) interprets experience after it has been abstracted into linguistic patterns. In order to invoke an interpretation that is favorable, the narrator adopts a plot that is well known within the local culture and fits the facts of their own experience to that plot. Schank called this the "story skeleton" (Schank, 1990: p.147.) This adaptation process will omit facts that do not fit or contribute to the plot. Narrators rely on the typical plot to leverage common cultural ground. The retelling of the story replaces the experience of the story (ibid, p.170), and the now adapted tale becomes what the narrator remembers. This has the effect of diluting the facts of the event remembered while solidifying the emotional point of view of the narrator.
The actor’s method of interpretation leads to similar dissolution of factual data. Also referred to as "cool" and "hot" cognition by cognitive psychologists, there are two primary modes of intelligence: first and second-order thinking (Schank, 1990; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014; Mischel, 2016). First-order thinking is critical and discriminating of facts. It requires a great deal of attention and is unsuited to typical activity in daily life. Second-order thinking relies on patterns already in the actor’s memory. These can be as simple as how to walk or drive to work. This process is typically found in limbic, evolutionary older portion of the human brain by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. As new information is presented to an actor that is challenging or threatening to known patterns, the actor’s brain attempts to find a heuristic to provide a shortcut to assimilating the new information through the filters of past experience, education, and biological biases (Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014 ; Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli, 2017). Eventually the actor settles on an emotional response first and logical explanation second.
Menary (2008) describes this emotional response as a pre-narrative structure that is as much psychosomatic as it is neurological. pre-narrative fodder for narrativesThese embodied experiences and skilled behaviors are translatable to narrative, but they lack the cause and effect order of the narrative structure and lack meaning, which is discussed later. While emotional responses are inherently difficult to anticipate in a dialog or political engagement, the pre-narrative structure describes a pattern bounding the variety of emotional responses.
These patterns are successful repeated rituals or patterns of ideas established in a semi-lattice similar to Alexander’s description of a city (Alexander, 1966). Evidence that contradicts an actor’s prior knowledge or assumptions will be biased against in their evaluation process, while the reverse is also true: ideas or facts that confirm their bias will not be critically analyzed (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017; Jones & McBeth, 2010). An actor is not going to exert themselves to engage in first-order thinking if a second-order pattern is already complete and vaguely relevant. The second-order spattern will overlay the original data, resulting in false back-stories that the narrator has no control over (Throgmorton, 1992).
Stories that have no relation to embedded second order patterns or are contrary to those patterns require the actor to engage in critical first-order thinking. In either occurrence, the actor is thinking defensively: either to defend their lattice of interrelated ideas or to defend themselves from a potential threat. Whether a story arises in conversation or in art or architecture, the closer it adheres to an actor’s expectations the more favorable the idea’s reception.
Whether positive, negative, or neutral, the emotional response takes place 100-250 milliseconds prior to cognition (Lodge and Taber 2005, 2007, 16; Morris et al. 2003). Essentially actors have made up our mind before they think. Actors pre-assign an emotional frame of reference to new ideas prior to applying logic. The cognition process is largely focused on assembling from memory a logical reason for the emotional response. If the definition of "remember" is to "put members together" (the opposite of dis-member,) then the linguistic processing of a memory, each event of "remembering" is an act of dismemberment. The neurological record of an event in itself cannot be transmitted between people as it is composed of various contextually dependent sense perceptions that are filtered through internalized linguistic processes. The act of narrating sorts the sensory experiences and emotional responses into a continuity that can be expressed in language independent of the original context or sense perceptions.
Memories not sorted into a story and retold will fade as their sensory experiences blur with more recent sensory input (Schank, 1990). Idiosyncratically, the mind will linguistically take a story apart over and over each time it repeats the memory. In time the memory is wholly an abstracted fabrication of the mind (Schank, 1990). Over the years, retelling a story is going to constantly refer back to the evolved theme of the story, not the sensory elements of the experience. Over time, the stories lose resolution, and what we remember actually changes:
"In addition, and more importantly, the classroom related cluster of cognitions may eventually show changes toward becoming an over-simplified and idealized conception." (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983: p.65)
Experiences left untold are not extensively influenced by linguistic limitations that confuse the original theme (Schank, 1990). While subsequent experiences will confuse the memory, the details are not diluted by the interpretive process. Negative stories tend to reinforce the negative experiences, in exclusion of all other facts of the relevant events and locations. This is not typically what actors do: it is not psychologically healthy to dwell on negative memories. Actors are much more apt to tell positive stories of their past, thereby reinforcing their emotional theme.
New causes and conditions that give rise to phenomenon influence the emotional response—changing the memory (Schank, 1990). Mental trauma is healed by forgetting the original causes and conditions. As retelling of the story abstracts the sensory record of causes and conditions of mental trauma, retelling of stories dilutes the troubling memories. Stories repeated multiple times in a ritualistic manner become part of the actor’s identity and becomes an embedded neurosis with psycho-somatic implications for the actor’s physical health (Pennebaker & Seagal, 1999). The causes and conditions of stories can originate reflectively from the actor’s memories but their experience of their environment precedes the reflective process.
The experiential extent of the mind is limited to the extents of sensory perception. The human mind is capable of imagining what is not ontologically present. This faculty is rooted in the ability to take in givens from the senses—data channels that relay analogs of phenomenal world to the brain for analysis. Actors perform analysis on abstract narratives as well as sensory givens. While evolutionarily-older portions of the human brain will respond to sensory stimuli in the moment, the higher reasoning portion of the brain does not prioritize stimulus from senses or memories. This function to think about things in the abstract is a primary measure of intelligence (Schank, 1990).
This bias causes a perception that the world in general was better in the past. Negative outcomes of the present seem to outnumber our memories of negative outcomes in the past. Nothing in the past was beyond the actor’s ability to survive, hence subsumed into to second-order thinking patterns. Conversely the present is where the actor does first-order thinking, so subjectively threats are here or soon to manifest. This nostalgia has led to a desire to re-enter the past.
Loss-aversion, one of the key components of nostalgia, is rooted in this bias for things and ideas we already have acquired. Fear of loss is twice as motivating as desire for gain (Kahneman, Knetsch & Thaler, 1990). This drives an actor’s sense of protecting what they have (industry jargon term this NIMBY, or "not in my back yard").
One example of this is the perception of public safety in the United States. The refrain goes that "we used to be able to leave our doors unlocked; children could walk themselves to school. But now there are so many more deviants committing crimes against children." Actual crime numbers prove this to be exactly the opposite (Tyler & Cook, 1984). The new examples of crimes outweigh the extent of past crimes, many of which have been forgotten.
The reflexive, or narrative self, has an inter-subjective, or dialogical structure. It is structured by the interiorization of speech... The unity of the reflexive self is pragmatic, it is anchored in the experiences of an embodied self which is embedded in an environment. (Menary, 2008: p.83)
Schank’s analysis of the process of cognition reveals the higher reasoning portion of the brain does not prioritize stimulus from external senses over imagined stimulus. The well-crafted narrative has the potential to change actors’ memory of events in their past. Expressed language can arise as fully-formed expressions of ideas and emotions, but, per constructionist philosophy of language, also in response to the individual’s environment (Di Masso, Dixon, & Durrheim, 2014).
To understand how thoughts arise from sensory perceptions to ever be analyzed by the reasoning human mind, it is necessary to describe the primary influences of sensory input. Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff (1983) described this as self and place-identity (here following discussed as identity and domain) as critical to understanding:
"…that the psychologically healthy state of a person's sense of self is not a static one, rather it is characterized by growth and change in response to a changing physical and social world." (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983: p.59)
The influences of actor psychology must be sought in their personal ritualistic patterns and spatial-use patterns. These two provide adequate bounding to include a limited understanding of both actors and associations of actors in a way that informs the narrative infrastructure.
Chapter 3: Identity and Ritual
To discuss the concept of actor "identity" it is important to understand its etymological roots. The Latin root "idem" is defined as:
‘the same (as above),’ used to avoid repetition in writing, Latin, literally ‘the same,’ from id ‘it, that one,’ from PIE pronominal stem *i- (see yon) + demonstrative suffix -dem. (Online-Etymology-Dictionary, n.d.: idem)
The reference to the "id" was adapted by psychoanalysis to describe the self-interested motivations of people. In this text identity is used to describe the extension of the ownership of self beyond the gross anatomy defined by the actor’s natural body. Thus to identify with a thing or group is to establish a psychological attachment to something outside one’s own body. The degree of that attachment will vary but the essence of the definition is that a sense of personal necessity is assigned to something other than the actor’s natural body. Thus equated to a body part, an actor is likely to react to the threat of removal of an identified fabric as an attack on their body.
As in all attempts to delimit where an actor or actor network begins and ends, it is necessary to define a boundary of the extended body. Inside that boundary is presumably all objects and concepts necessary to define the actor. Process of defining that boundary requires a narrative to describe the difference between "self" and "other". Typically this process is exercised to communicate to other actors to lay claim to territory beyond the physical body.
The development of self-identity begins with learning to distinguish self from others by means of visual cues, auditory cues and other perceptual modes (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Through the process of observation and education the child develops concepts of "mine" and "yours", "me" and "other" and learns to verbally express these distinctions. Proshansky, Fabian, and Kaminoff (1983) go on to warn that the developed cognitions are going to include both positive and negative emotional actor predispositions to the identified urban fabric. In the process of learning to verbalize these predispositions, the actor develops their own "core story" as proposed by Sandercock (2010). The core story aggregates through the life of the actor until:
We become our stories. When we tell stories about ourselves, we draw on past behavior and on others’ comments about us in characterizing ourselves as, say, adventurous, or victims, or afraid of change, or selfish, or heroic. But in telling and re-telling the story, we are also reproducing ourselves and our behaviors. (Sandercock, 2010: p.22)
The core story is constantly in a state of performance: just as characters in fiction are unaware of their fate, the actors cannot anticipate the challenges they will face or joys realize. The actor network environment produces a complex system where actors co-author their core stories together (Throgmorton, 1992; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014). The actor develops their role in the polis to distinguish their value within the polis from other actors as well as claim membership so they can benefit from the action of the polis. As the core story evolves, it establishes the actor’s mental framework for second-order cognition. The core story becomes the reference system for second-order cognition and associated bias. The acquired identity of the actor conditions both confirmation and dis-confirmation bias (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017). Core stories, like all stories, are emplaced, leading to actor bias that has developed from ritual use of space.
Identification with an abstract concept or physical fabric beyond the actor’s body requires repetition to affirm the association in the minds of other actors (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983; Schank, 1990; Jackson, 1994; Molotch, 2000).An actor need not raise their hand to claim to own hands, but for an actor to claim to own a stick it is sociologically necessary to exercise that claim by routinely possessing the stick with their hand. The process of encapsulating the manufactured world and fellow actors out via identification, whether of necessity or comfort, results in a sense of safety by bodily inhabiting the space and association with those co-actors (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983).In this way, identity is a social compact extended to objects, concepts, and actors but requires a reification or ritual. The actor thereby defines themselves and their value to the society with the goal of receiving affirmation from the community (Maslow, 1943). The practice of identity requires a variety of ritualized actions, which is the physical manner of expressing a narrative.
Any shared narrative between two actors establishes a polis. In that exchange of ideas, this prototypical community relies upon a variety of linguistic and behavioral cues to establish rules between the two actors that provides a degree of civil container both actors agree to act within. If an ongoing mutual benefit between the two is agreed upon, the actors will codify their exchange of ideas. They will create a ritual or a thing to act as an embodiment and reminder of the relationship.
Where language sufficed for the initial trust and exchange, the two or more actors will agree to share a ritual, and likely a space for that ritual. Through this process they share an identification that they together share stories of co-memories (commemoration) with others (Sandercock, 2010). The mutual benefit the actors realize becomes common property and a civil container both actors agree to act within. Their group identity has been attached to a space.
In this manner a physical space can be domesticated by the process of group identification. The domain is made manifest by the rituals of the actors. This definable place-identity is perishable as it is dependent upon the reenactment of the rituals by the actors. The relationship is reflexive such that once a place-identity is established, the place and its acquired cultural symbols shape individuals sense of identity (Larkin, 2013; Di Masso, Dixon, & Durrheim, 2014).The majority of research on place-identity is focused place attachment as an intrapsychic process that can be described psychologically (Di Masso, Dixon & Durrheim, 2014). In addition to personal differentiation, actors also define themselves in relation to physical settings of daily life:
"While it is undoubtedly true that in the experience of daily life there is little self-conscious reflection on the meaning of home, the work place, or the neighborhood, there is theoretical value in articulating the functional properties of place-identity as part of the socialization process, and of place-belongingness as one aspect of place-identity." (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983: p.61)
Absent the rituals, the place reverts of mundane fabric available to any other actors who practice their own rituals in the same space. When two actors or networks of actors identify with the same space but do not share common rituals for that space, the space is contested. The opposite extreme is the increase of unclaimed space in established cities becoming havens for informal communities and economies. In contrast, with the relatively sedentary rural populations, contemporary urban actors are less likely to develop personal or cultural rituals that claim space due to their nomadic tendencies.
J.B. Jackson (1994) describes the essential nature of cultural rituals to define the sense of place. His examination of the sense of place in the late 20th century rural United States highlights the scarcity of either evolved domain or stable urban fabric to anchor personal or group identities. Yet a sense of place is still definable through the "…lively awareness of the family environment, a ritual repetition, a sense of fellowship based on a shared experience" (Jackson, 1994: p.159). Even lacking monumentation or physical patterns, the sense of a place can be psychologically anchored in memory without being anchored in space.
"In our urban environment which is constantly undergoing irreversible changes, a cyclical sense of time, the regular recurrence of events and celebrations, is what gives us reassurance and a sense of unity and continuity." (Jackson, 1994: p.160)
Hernandez, Hidalgo, & Ruiz, (2014), working with Scannell and Gifford’s work (2010), propose three dimensions to place attachment as a psychological process. The two of their three dimensions, affect (emotion) and behavior (action), are aligned with Arendt’s model of the civil polis of the laborer beholden to their animal needs and the actor as politician. Scannell and Gifford’s third dimension, cognition, is here proposed not as a unique dimension unto itself, but a manifest feedback loop between the emotional roots of action: identity.
Defined by Hernandez et al. as the "PPP framework" (Hernandez, Hidalgo, & Ruiz, 2014, p.126) for person, psychological process, and place dimension, their work does not explore the place dimension with spatial tools. The PPP framework defaults to psychological analysis techniques. The framework is effective in describing the relationship between action, ideas, and emotions as relates to actors. By assessing the degree and manner of identification with place, which joins affect and action (or affect and speech), it rarefies the participant such that spatial research can seek corroboration of that analysis in physical dimension.The urban fabric then, can be described through the rituals of the denizens:
"But the town is not really like a natural phenomenon . It is an artefact — an artefact of a curious kind , compounded of willed and random elements , imperfectly controlled . If it is related to physiology at all , it is more like a dream than anything else." (Rykwert, 2013: p.717)
Chapter 4: Domain and the Actor
A "narrative infrastructure" is composed of the built fabrics and biome that bound the externalized memories of individuals and communities (Childs, 2008, p.176). Childs (2008) identifies the narrative fabric as a public resource to be protected against the dangers of natural disasters and urban renewal, both of which could "engender a kind of mental health crisis that impoverishes individuals and can destroy a community." (Childs, 2008: p.176). Being composed of both a sequence of relevant events (a narrative) and a three dimensional matrix (infrastructure), the individual actor and groups of actors adopt specific spaces for the exercise of personal and group identity (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983; MacKian, 2004).
These actor domains are differentiated from the overall urban fabric through the degree of physical association. Their rituals and resulting feedback is, in turn, filtered by the domain as an aggregate of sensory input:
"The 'information' that is being transformed through spatial metaphor is not the prime focus. Above all, because the information comes from, is filtered through, is expressed in relation to the body, and its movement through or residence in space, this is inherently spatial, relational information already." (MacKian, 2004: p.618)
The "relational information" in the spatial dimension is chartable, in both duration and space. Yet the fidelity of that information is limited by the attention span of the actor. While an actor who has an unremarkable day will not be able to recall in detail what they were doing, they will have a sense of which urban fabrics they were using. If, hypothetically, an actor returned from buying food, they may not be able to remember all the items they bought at the grocery, but they are probably going to remember they were at a grocery. This is a function of how the actor indexes urban fabrics for use in daily life. The grocery, as the modern "hunter-gatherer" place, has a great variety of items cognitively mapped for the sake of gathering preferred foodstuffs (Schank, 1990). The tendency of an actor to subconsciously map or "plot" their journey through the store to optimize the shopping utilizes a narrative framework including a beginning, middle, and end (Schank, 1990).
This is not to suggest the actor is working from a script or storyboard, but a vague meandering among way-points between the entry and exit of the hypothetical store. Way-finding within the store obviates the need for detailed planning on the part of the actor. When an actor traverses any given space beyond the home, he or she is saturated with events and items that lack personal consequence or affect. In the memory of the actor, the multiple times retracing the same routes will cause interfering memories over time (Schank, 1990). The travel through known territory is more often subconscious, with little impact on the actor’s personal narrative. If pressed, the actor will retroactively embellish such indistinct memories with plausible sequences of events based upon their own presumptions. Schank (1990, 124) defines this as story-based memory, where a plausible yet fictional narrative fills in the gaps between way-points of more consequence to the actor. These embellished memories are substituted for an accurate record of events.
"Stories are a way of preserving the connectivity of events that would otherwise be disassociated over time. One reason we tell stories, therefore, is to help ourselves in remembering them." (Schank, 1990: p.124).
Relationship between the domain of an actor and the actor’s memory appear related to first and second-order thinking modes. Memories are physically outsourced to the ritually used landscape to reduce the necessity of first-order thinking. Physical items that are novel or discovered in unexpected locations will stand out in the actor’s memory as discontinuities, forcing the actor to update their mental map for use during their next visit. Actors must exercise skills of mimetic environmental control in changing the setting, the behavior of others, or his or her own behavior (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). The confusion caused by too rapid change in an actor’s expectation of their domain appear to result in a phenomenon akin to a mental health crisis (Fullilove, 2004) . An actor’s domain is defined by their memories of the urban fabric and biome:
"At the core of such physical environment-related cognitions is the 'environmental past' of the person; a past consisting of places, spaces and their properties which have served instrumentally in the satisfaction of the person's biological, psychological, social, and cultural needs." (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983: p.59)
The extreme example of the loss of all domains is experienced by refugees. The same but lesser experience of loss is nostalgia for childhood domains due to urban morphology. The demolition of an actor’s various domains seems to leave a memory gap with physical coordinates within the urban fabric. To reduce the sense of memory loss, actors externalize their memory into their domain with mementos. The process of serial vision as described by Gorden Cullen (1961) is applicable at both an urban and domestic scales. The way-finding of an actor through a familiar space, while not typically overtly mapped, is greatly informed by sensory or way-finding cues re-experienced in serial progression. The subtle ritual of noticing and dwelling on the memento reinforces personal identity. Both monuments and graffiti are expressions of outsourced memory: placing serial memory cues in space to lay claim to urban fabric as personally relevant domain.
As the actors tend to ignore the majority of sensory data they are exposed to, mapping this sense of place charts a city that appears to be nodes of consequence associated by largely fictional narratives. Actor’s memories of their domains are fungible, and their actual sensory interaction with those changing domains constantly demand the actor renew their domain: "The way we narrate the city becomes constitutive of urban reality, affecting the choices we make, the ways we then might act." (Sandercock, 2003: p.12).
Domain and the Actor Network
Jackson (1994) describes how small cultural rituals become reflected in the land in a similar manner described by Jacobs (1961) how an established fabric built by previous residents shapes the rituals of later generations. The city operates at multiple time scales: daily, seasonally, and inter-generational. Daily and seasonal needs can be satisfied by the urban change professional by interviewing actors about their needs and wants. Those needs and wants are more likely to be focused on short time-spans such as relates to employment and the lives of their children. If asked to describe their needs and wants for their grandchildren, a mid-forties aged actor is likely to speak in generalities about education and "high-quality of life". In general, those with the most capacity to act (be it political action, direct action, investment action) are using the narrowest planning horizon (Schwartz, 1991).
Jacobs’ seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) provides a variety of insights into the nature of domain. Unlike towns, cities are accumulations of strangers. Modern towns, with the large volume of migration have lost the integration of community that informs Jacobs’ distinction between town and city. The manifestation of the rituals of the street and sidewalk described by Jacobs (1961) are largely specific to mid-twentieth century Chelsey, New York City (and neighboring boroughs), yet she accuratlly described how those actors utilized the urban fabric as a collection of rituals. Starting with actors’ front-stoop, their sidewalk and street, the mix of commercial tenants on that street, up to and including maximizing pedestrian connectivity with small blocks; Jacobs described functionally and temporally dynamic domains of a city from the perspective of the actor.
Though the fabrics of the built environment respond only to actor intervention and entropy, domains require constant reenactment of rituals to persist in a given state. Jacobs (1961) suggests leveraging the diversity of possible rituals at different times of day to continuously induce culturally sanctioned activity. Throughout Jacobs’ (1961) work is the affirmation that the civil domain requires constant vigilance—literal watchers of the street—to ensure decorum, if not equity. Common domain requires the informal ritual of sentries to enforce the shared identity.
"In cities, liveliness and variety attract more liveliness; deadness and monotony repel life. And this is a principle vital not only to the ways cities behave socially, but also to the ways they behave economically." (Jacobs 1961, p. 99)
Space left idle is available for illicit rituals that can become habituated to the space by their actors, changing the associations of all actors who might use that space. This cycle leads to a perceived loss of a domain by the first actors, which is expressed in their narratives. Through the process of assigning meaning (discussed below) these narratives reinforce the surrender of that specific domain to the new actors.
To exclude actors of one socio-economic class from the domain of a higher socio-economic class results in segregation and disintegration within urban fabrics (Jacobs, 1961). At a personal scale there is a need for a degree of privacy within the close confines of the city: "… it is not considered dignified for everyone to know one’s affairs. Nor is it considered dignified to snoop on the others beyond the face presented in public. It does violence to a person’s privacy and rights." (Jacobs, 1961: p.59).
Shared neighborhood scale public domains exists as the venue for class integration. The public domain is the ideal space to share with strangers or passing acquaintances. As the space is public, none are making personal sacrifice for others. The exchange is limited to the conversation, rather than an act of hospitality which might suggest expected reciprocation. Absent this shared domain, the community will develop insular private domains which preclude the sharing of temporal rituals, which in turn precludes the development of common identity. Such segregation leads to contests for the limited urban fabric.
At the macro level, national communities do not typically exhibit homogeneous values and knowledge (Cranz & Lindsay, 2014). The lack of frequent shared rituals at a national level is largely a result of each meso or microculture having different domains. The sited meso or microculture will address its membership spatially, and define the group members partially through the actor’s relations to the shared domain (Cranz & Lindsay, 2014). In addition to the specifically micro and meso domains of actor’s lives, there is the parochial institutions such as places of worship, education, and social assistance groups which "supervise the neighborhood and organize pro-social activities" (O'Looney, 1998: p.223). Other institutions such as adult-oriented entertainment venues contribute contrasting narratives to the local neighborhood. Social conflict arises where the rituals of actor groups diverge within the same domain.
Without getting into the process of land-use policy (as discussed below in the subsection meaning), contested space is a chief concern of the urban change professional. To understand contested domains, it is necessary to abstract the domains to a common map. The abstract boundary provides an extent to the contest, and helps to identify other actor networks who may be unaware that their domain is contested. Through the process of describing the rituals of an actor network and how they are reflected in the space, the competing actors have the potential to enter into a dialog about how domain use, and is the first step to discovering how to share a domain.
The process of mapping of a domain is a seizing of fabric or biome. The map or artifact record publishes a narrative of the actor’s identification with a specific fabric. The act of assembling the narrative around the artifacts or landscape requires the community at large to address the defined claim on contested space. Overtly or subversively, the meaning or theme of the map or catalog is not legal title, but that the physical fabric is an extension of the actor’s natural person (Caquard & Cartwright, 2014). At the behest of the aboriginal community, portions of rural Australia is under federal protection to preserve the significant Aboriginal area (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984, Australia). Many of the land forms are mnemonic ques for the aboriginal "songlines" which form a network of story-based transportation maps have been utilized for many thousands of years by the aboriginal community (Chatwin, 1988; Kearney & Bradley, 2009). The navigation of the land was performed by singing the story of the land, with the land itself being the cue for each verse. Thus ancient stories could lead a tribe from water source to water source with an accurate anticipation of required supplies to accomplish the journey. These walking/singing rituals were claimed as substantive to aboriginal identity, thus worthy of overriding private land-use rights.
Childs (2008, p.176) writes: "[w]ith generations of weddings, the institution of marriage becomes part of the soil", claiming that the identity of a culture is merged with the landscape and urban fabric the culture inhabits. Lacking pervasive externalized mnemonics such as aboriginals of Australia, most cultures rely on formal monumentation regarding a limited number of historical points of political import. The majority of cultural memory is not formalized, resulting in casual loss of culturally relevant urban fabric or boime. The act of mapping and cataloging allows both the transmission of the meaning and the extents. Any policy is arbitrary if lacking definitive extents. When the extents of cultural memory are known, the polis can take definitive action or enforce policy that protects that fabric or biome.
Similarly, any cultural landscape lacking definitive extents is subject to arbitrary action by current or future generations. Actor memories are both fungible and temporary. Each successive generation tends to inherit the fabric of their parents, but not necessarily the plot or pattern that domesticated the fabric. To remember is to re-tell the story, and thus perpetuate the domain within the fabric. When paired with external mimetic media, such as wedding pictures or maps, the study of domain enters into the field of anthropology or cartography. Lacking such external media, ritual use, or story-telling tradition, the place-identity (the domain) is likely to return to homogeneous fabric or biome:
In the field of literature, maps are employed by scholars to better understand how a narrative is placed in a geography, how a geography has informed or influenced an author or how the narrative is ‘locked’ to a particular geography or landscape... In other words, the potential of maps to both decipher and tell stories is virtually unlimited. (Caquard & Cartwright, 2014: p.101)
Regrettably, the best map is an imperfect representation of a domain. As noted by Alexander (1966) the interactions between actors and fabric is, subtle, multi-scaled, temporally dependent, and diverse. There is an important point towards establishing a domain: it must intentionally exclude. While maps reduce the richness of personal experience of an individual’s domain, it is necessary to translate some of that experience into a narrative that can be communicated to others for the preservation of personal or group identity.
Typically the identity documented by mapping exercise is not desired, but indicative of the extents of social decline: poverty, crime, and inequity are important deficit maps for planning processes. There is the risk of focusing too much attention on narratives of decline, which can cause communities to identify with deficits. Analogous to Schank’s (1990) discussion on the need to forget past trauma to truly heal, community actors need to avoid identifying their natural person with a map describing a domain of decline. The actual act of publishing a map of decline can lead to apathy within a community (O'Looney, 1998). The goal of a governmental mapping effort is to identify boundaries and limitations for land use, but when mapping social issues the map’s narrative is focused on community need (O’Looney, 1998). This bias inherently maps neighborhoods with descriptions of their failings: crime, poverty, lack of care, lack of food. Each of these layers compounds the narrative of failure, which tends to reinforce public and institutional bias. This has resulted in literal "red-lining" of neighborhoods in the past, requiring various laws to force lending institutions to limit their use of bias (Civil Rights Act 1968, s. VIII [USA]). Such maps of formal memory are drafted to exert control over the polis and its institutions.
Maps that chart personal narratives tend to be informal by nature. Personal or group domain is where actor networks categorize and sort memory to effect long-term propagation of their identity. The process of encouraging long-term thinking is an important part of the work of urban change professionals. In contested domain where expressed narratives overlap there are likely to be conflicts of interests between story-holders but also the potential of fostering comedic integration (see Meaning below). Domains without a diversity of narratives maps are at risk of tragic actions of short-term exploitation.
Chapter 5: Works; Artifice and Attachment
Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool. -Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841). "Essays", p.26
Every tool is designed to effect a specific desired product, be it another work or a support of labor (Arendt, 1959). Each artifact is designed for the task with which it is engaged, not the resulting human experience of the benefits of the work or labor. Where consumption is the point of products of labor, the inevitable destruction of the product of work is incidental to its use (Arendt, 1959). The artifact’s durability is eventually used up, weathered, eroded, or destroyed by natural disaster, but only after it has served its purpose many times.
Though it fails, the built environment is composed of all that has been brought from the raw to the finished state with the intent to endure. The process of transforming by violence raw materials into assemblages of works, the homo faber becomes a creator of his or her own solutions to problems: "…in order to erect a world, not—at least, not primarily—to help the human life process" (Arendt, 1959: p.132). If decay is the presence of problems, that which alleviates decay promotes life. Thus by supporting labor and alleviating decay, the work becomes associated with the life and subjective well-being of the actor.
A place attachment with the work is affirmed through the process of ritualized identification. As the work eventually succumbs to wear and tear, it becomes a source of psychological loss. Until then, the actor jealously defends the work against theft. The psychological attachment to the work is defended like attachment to life itself. Though Arendt (1959) presents homo faber as "lord and master" of the material world because of the super-position over the work, the inherent impermanence of both the actors and their creations defines a tragic narrative arc between having - then losing - artifacts.
The narrative of the artifact starts with the desire for better outcomes from labor than those remembered. Schank (1990) describes creativity as the ability to adapt memories of stories to present conditions. This can be as simple as recognizing an old friend who has changed their hair style or as nuanced as noting the similarity between precedent law and current legal entanglements (Schank, 1990). For manipulation of the built fabric, this suggests actors do not mimic the previous forms, but leverage the human ability to partially match memories to problems at hand.
The actor’s adaptive process is structured by narrative: starting with a domain (givens), identifying a villain (problem), and inventing a hero who uses the givens in a novel way to overcome the villain. This narrative arc presumes the solutions of the past are the raw material to deal with the present, thus establishing a continuity through artifacts. Schank (1990) reaffirms the successful designer as the "bricoleur" of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1966). This theory of intelligence and creativity mandates that the urban change professional be thoroughly immersed in the narrative of their context — as much as their own craft. Using the memory of the local narrative simultaneously with the craft of design determines the success of "adapted" solutions.
Those built solutions are, at a minimum, the setting of actor stories: containers whose shape influence the rituals of actors. The integrated density of narratives embedded in the urban fabric develops a kind of agency through its unpredictable influence (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000). The actor is neither capable nor motivated to integrate the multitude of narratives that arise from any one fabric (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Actors tend to ignore much of the setting of their lives until it is dysfunctional (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Often the goal of the urban change professional is to imbue notable aesthetic beauty in the mundane functionality of spatial design. Given the actors’ self-interest, the design risks distracting the polis from the actors’ narrative. This is the equivalent of a stage-set up-staging the actors. Yet the set is simultaneously vital to the action as the minutia of the settings (e.g. size of a room, color, location of windows, bed, chairs, etc.) form the fabric of the user’s place-identity (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983).Adapted to the terms of narrative infrastructure, Proshansky Fabian, & Kaminoff (1983) suggest that works that underlie a user’s domain that complicates or inhibits their practice of their identity are rejected designs.
To proceed without awareness of local narratives is to impose alien culture on the local community. This requires the community to engage in first-order thinking, which will be heavily biased by previous conditions. Such design work does not leverage the continuity granted by the local narratives, making adoption by the local actors much less likely. Referred to as architectural colonialism and imperialism (Mazrui, 1999), glaringly inconsistent built fabric is less sustainable than materially more perishable indigenous fabrics. Similar folly is design meant to replicate a local narrative, rather than adapt that narrative. Replication of fabric invariably suffer from errors and a lack of patina. The local actors would presume to use second-order thinking relating to the work, but the subtle errors give rise to the awareness of uncanny discrepancies. The foundation of a narrative is its setting, and when inauthentic, the narrative is discontinuous and untrusted due to a subtle alien presence.
Nanetti & Cheong (2017) discuss the relationship between the intangible and tangible heritage as symbiotic:
Through this feedback between intangible and tangible heritage, not only do buildings, monuments, and mountains rise above the profanity of day-to-day human interactions, but art, music, dance, and theater can also become sacred. Even food and culinary practices become associated with places or peoples. (Nanetti & Cheong, 2017: p.344)
The actors "read" the tangible built text composed with the vocabulary of materials (glass, stone, wood, concrete, plastics). This vocabulary is composed in architectonic and spatial relationships of mass, light, sitting, and scale (Yanow, 1995). No single material choice or element of symbolic content will suffice to distinguish ‘place’ from any other (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000). Neither would their absence exclude a new fabric from being part of a larger built fabric—so long as a local actor performs one of their many rituals therein. The most obvious ritual would be the builder’s ritual use of material: the material might change but the techniques of assembly will be particular to the sense of place. Molotch, Freudenburg, and Paulsen (2000) define place tradition as dependent upon the Structuration theory of this bricolage in time.
The order of assembly of new fabric is not the defining factor of overall fabric continuity. Each moment is unique in itself, but is predicated on the immediate prior events. Each actor is similarly unique given their unique combination of biographical identity and physical domain. Both actors and historic fabrics are unique given the assembly of unique prior conditions (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000). Thus the definition of continuity is the process of drawing upon prior conditions, yet impossible to predetermine due to the path-dependency that is unique to each actor and location. Persisting in this time-dependent media, the actors translate the the city into narratives in the same manner they translate memory. The linguistic filter and associated bias is overlain the built fabric and reflexively becomes constitutive of urban reality (Childs, 2008; Sandercock, 2010). Actor discourse relies on the narrative turn to discuss the built fabric. This narrative informs the sense of place, which affects the choices made by the actors (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000; Sandercock, 2010).
Childs (2008: p.175) describes this as a "virtuous cycle: the urban realm emerges from a cycle of relationships between built forms and stories of place, and between multiple buildings in a settlement in which, like an ecosystem, one forms the context for another." No individual portion of the built fabric is excluded from the narrative: the content of the city is enfolded into the actor’s urban fabric narrative due to its ontic persistence always prompting the actor’s memory. The actors go on to judge changes to the built fabric based upon how those changes integrate with their personal and cultural narratives (Childs, 2008). Rapid changes to the built fabric can result in domain shear that threatens the actor’s place-identity. Under normal circumstances, the actor perceives change in their lives happening at a much more rapid rate than urban morphology. This leads to a misconception of environmental stability, which in turn validates the actor’s belief in their own continuity over time (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). Their sense of place-identity, mirrored in the physical world’s seeming persistence, provides the mimetic container for the rituals underpinning their self-identity (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983). As buildings tend to outlive actors, the meanings and interpretations may change, causing generational strife as the actors of today yield their agency to their children (Yanow, 1995).The implications for the development of city narratives leads to considerable consternation. Anticipation of housing and commercial filtering whereby new market-rate construction becomes the next generation’s low-cost housing option requires long-term thinking by those with the capacity to act. Developing for a diversity of rituals and income levels today overcomes the danger of mono-cultural developments built to serve a single level of affluence:
We cannot blame their (the developments) poor staying power and stagnation entirely on their most obvious misfortune: being built all at once. Nevertheless, this is one of the handicaps of such neighborhoods, and unfortunately its effects can persist long after the buildings have become aged. (Jacobs, 1961, p.198)
Works are adopted as domains through development of meaning. Meaning develops through inter-generational ritualistic use. Urban fabrics that fail to bridge generations will become abandoned domains that attract emigration of new actors or foster a narrative of decline which accelerates the narrative of abandonment. Which ever result is present, the narrative is unbroken so long as the artifacts are sensible. That narrative may become one of decline, but the strength of works is in their persistence, which they lend to their narratives (Childs, 2008).
Chapter 6: Meaning in Stories
Meaning and Homo Laborans
[narrative is a ] form of human comprehension that is productive of meaning by its imposition of a certain formal coherence on a virtual chaos of events.' (White, 1981, p. 251)
The threat of existential crisis is omni-present in the human psyche. Most actors who trace the narratives of their lives identify the common plot of growing old and eventually dying. This ultimate bounding of the human condition is beyond the text of Arendt (1959). Whether through procreation or authorship or some other stratagem, actor’s desire for continuity of their physical being, their contributions to society (via their works), their reputation (usually through their works and occasionally labors), or their domain (Dunstan & Sarkissian, 1994; Valentine, 2009). As every manifestation of people and their societies are perishable or subject to change, there is no ultimate remedy to the common existential crisis.
In terms of relative relief from this common crisis, oral stories are one of the longest lived media -- the oldest known with accurate factual content originating in Australia 13,700 years before present time (Reid, Nunn, and Sharpe, 2014). The song lines (stories) of Australia have increased over the centuries, interlinking and increasing the cultural interconnectedness between aboriginal communities (Chatwin, 1988). Preservation of personal identity through stories or other media is only likely to happen if the story has meaning to future actors.
The work of an artist, or architect, or writer is not the source of cultural meaning. Neither is the creator the source of the cultural meaning. The meaning is established through interpretation by the audience (Throgmorton, 1992). This share of the meaning of a work belongs to the audience. The phrase "the beholder's share", which was introduced by the Austrian art historian Alois Riegl, denotes that part of an artwork's meaning which must be contributed by the viewer (Gubser, 2005).
This degree of agency granted to every individual who consumes narrative of all types foists the individual into the action of the narrative, hence they are each "actors". At the least they must take the cognitive action to ignore a narrative, if not actively accept or reject it for its implications. This action requires them to replay the narrative in their own mind, but being within their mind, its interpretation is greatly influenced by the memories of the actor.
Meaning is the Moral of Stories
Meaning, here used in the sense that an artifact, idea, work of art, or piece of writing defines the culture beyond the artifact’s original function. The preoccupation of actors with preservation of their identities makes meaning an important part promoting the preservation of any artifact or idea (Dunstan & Sarkissian, 1994). According to Dunstan and Sarkissian (1994), every actor and actor network has a "core story" that is composed of elements of their narrative that is interlinked with meso or macro narratives of their domain. This layering and interlinking of stories is the "lash-up" of stories and facts described by Molotch, Freudenburg, and Paulsen (2000):
Any identifiable thing in the world, be it a toaster, a norm, an ethnicity, a fact, or a city, gains its reality through an even more complex ecology of enrollments among diverse actors and the "stored-up" human activities represented by physical objects that also, in this sense, have a kind of agency. (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000: p.793)
The stored-up meanings integrate knowledge of events in a domain and attains meaning by associating with other second-order patterns of memory preexisting in the minds of the audience (Schank, 1991; Sandercock, 2010). 19th-century New England factories and schools were built to resemble churches on order to leverage a "church behavior" to school children and factory workers. The politicians and architects of that era were keen to leverage the aggregated meaning inherent in the church-style to provide a psychologically container for the activities within schools and factories (Yanow, 1995). This deliberate use of hermeneutics channeled the actors’ experience of the public space towards a narrative meaning "control" and away from a meaning "democratic". This is a clear example of how meaningful works can be utilized as a tool of societal control.
Works take on meaning by serving as the enclosure or context for familiar narratives that arise directly from the lived experience of actors (Menary, 2008). The semiotics of works is manifest in the residue of changes wrought on the work as growth, ruin, or maintenance.
Research in belief systems has found meaning can be systematically assigned within a culture (Ewick and Silbey, 1995; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014). Meaning is not randomly assigned because the narrative or work is relative to the domain and local identities. The combination of community rituals in discrete space with established narratives is often reduced to the name. The name of an actor or work becomes a short-hand for the collected stories about the named (Childs, 2008). This is not to suggest a name inherently grants meaning, but that actors name artifacts they find meaningful to package the semantic content for ease of communication.
Systems of meaning encoded in observable symbols (i.e., written, verbal) ability to encode emotional underpinnings are limited by language (Dunstan & Sarkissian, 1994). Vocabulary shortcomings not withstanding, the need for language to proceed from cause to effect within the sentence structure limits the number of conflicting views that can be expressed any one time. The mind appears capable of holding simultaneous conflicting views that manifest as multi-dimensional fields of meaning and implication.
The "discursive perspective" (Di Masso, Dixon & Durrheim, 2014) proposes that place attachment is not limited to an intra-psychic process. The identification with domain needs ratification from others for it to be a shared domain. The social "glue" that binds society are the inter-meshing of agreements established through common rituals or agreed upon meanings about community-possessed works leading to institutionalized socio-spatial order (Di Masso, Dixon & Durrheim, 2014).
The agreed upon meanings of narrative plots constitute the morals espoused by the culture. The moral - the policy or design - is the resolution of the plot between the characters in a specific setting. The moral is not the dénouement, the rising action, or the anti-climax. The moral of a story is the definitive end of the narrative, and it is upon these morals which civic policy is founded (Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014), and is the starting point of urban design.
Tradition and Place Character: meaning of a pastori and priori
Quality fiction is not only transportative, but the reader imagines being the character in a similar way a thespian enters the role of a character of a staged fiction. Readers do not re-read fiction or historical narratives because they forgot the plot, rather they are re-imagining the character’s emotional arc. The actor needs to "relate" to the character though a common sense of identity and/or domain. If the author successfully identifies their audience, the audience can more easily don the persona of the characters in the story.
These characters can be adopted by the actors as constitutive of their sense of personal and cultural identity. In much the same way a place becomes saturated with enough meaning for a community to adopt it as their domain, the great stories likewise become "meaning full" and archetypal for the culture. The narratives of the story become a cultural territory of affect. Such social structure contains stories that are proverbial, and have been adopted as local tradition. The rote format of the traditional narrative is an infrastructure that provides for continuity of meaning from generation to generation (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000).
Meaning of the a pastori domain encountered in the field as described by Norberg-Schulz (1980) or Rykwert, (2013) is composed of these traditional narratives. A culturally significant narrative drives the idea of a town or genius loci. The story becomes compartmentalized as a teaching unit for transmission from one generation to the next, thus facilitating continuity. Such cultural myths tend to operate at the macro level, or the subtle narratological structure of the community. While these narratives tend to form a baseline for cultural values, their origins tend to be obscured by time. The residue of they myth may be limited to commemorative coinage, monuments, and other state-sponsored physical reminders of the common myth of the community.
Other a pastori domain narratives accreate physical residue at the meso level. Current and recent generations are and have been proceeding with the labors and works of life together in shared domains. Their pursuit of labors and works result in changes to the land and the character of the publicly visible works. Within these actor-network "lash-ups" the character of place is the manifest interactions of these uses (i.e. works, labors, and rituals) over time, plus the deterioration with use and time (Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000). This informal socio-cultural sharing of identities to establish domain distinctions between actors gives rise to neighborhood character.
A priori narratives about how the traditions or character should be adjusted focus on the needs of present or future actors. In pursuit of political action, these micro-level narratives attempt to demonstrate how an injured party (victim) needs redress from those responsible (villains). Within these policy narratives, the advocates call upon the policy makers or enforcers (heroes) to change how the domains or common goods are distributed or used. These a priori narratives are subjected to the uncertainty of interference from other actors. Much of the effort of policy makers is to establish the continuity of a policy proposal with the traditions and character of the domain and its polis.
In this manner, the a priori narratives influence the established domains, and will be considered a pastori by the following generation. The society is composed of ever-evolving narratives (Brand 1992; Aravot 1995; Molotch 2000; Childs 2008):
In order to imagine the ultimately unrepresentable space, life and languages of the city, to make them legible, we translate them into narratives… Planning is performed through story, in a myriad of ways. (Sandercock, 2003: p.12)
Urban narrative tends to be composed of formal and informal stories and associated myths. Composed of monuments, district names, and street names, the formal stories push a political agenda of domestic or international story manipulation: war memorials, memorials to thinkers and activists, heroes (Kearney & Bradley, 2009; Pinzaru, 2012; Filep, Thompson-Fawcett, & Rae, 2014). The informal, a pastori stories are layered from many narratives and themes over generations. Formal, a priori, stories are hierarchal societal influence imposed on memory to change the future behavior of the population.
The rational, a priori, myths are representative of a culture’s highest morals but often manifest as propaganda (Mazrui, 1999). Joseph Rykewert (2013) provides an examination of this phenomena and demonstrates the root inspiration to memorialization through stories of the built fabric. Taken to fascist extremes, the governmental definition of domain and meaning can manipulate personal identity (Rykewert, 2013).
Rykwert’s (2013) text is an detailed study on the infusing of meaning from the first gesture of Roman urban design. The initial Roman camp-building process of dividing the land into cardinal quadrants was partly an act of paganism and partly pragmatism. The land itself was meant to reflect the astronomical order defined by sunrise and sunset. Noon was marked on line joining sunrise and sunset (decumanus), and a vesica piscis constructed to establish north and south (cardo) at a near-perfect ninety-degree angle from east and west. The camp and future city would reflect the celestial order in its plan on Earth. The orderly quartering of the land continued to finer and finer divisions until individual domus were defined from the original astronomical order of the city.
Such rational land use by empires would not resurface until the Law of the Indies imposed by Spain upon the Americas. Where the Romans were obsessed with leveraging the power of their numens in their city, the Spanish similarly were seeking a balance between the Catholic Church and provincial governance. Though they mapped different domains, the meaning of each was markedly similar.
Ancient China developed a multi-scaled land use policy based on the celestial underpinnings of the Dao Te Ching: a regular nine-fold square division of each farm was established to allow for eight fields for the family, one for the local government. The local government established a common warehouse with nine divisions: eight for community support and the ninth for the empire (Rykwert, 2013).
The United States separation of church and state within the laws of the republic established a land use system that left no place set aside for the numens. The Land Ordinance of 1785 stretched a cartographic reticulum across the sparsely inhabited interior of North America with no regard for geography or biome. The meaning of the land of North America was made simple: it was to be a source of profit. By disregarding all numens, the United States put land ownership forward as the most important meaning of life in the new republic.
The acts and rites of defining a domain have been studied in depth by Joesph Rykwert in his 2013 text "The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World". The earliest built fabric was a farm plot: an inviolate portion of the land that received the labor of a family, and though a social compact agreed to be thereby owned by that family. Ancient civilizations shared this principle of domain establishment by cutting the earth with a plough into plots (Rykwert, 2013). This first map was full-scale, writ on the land itself. The meaning thence attached to the boundaries became the earliest land use laws.
The boundary, though initially only the furrow in the land, would acquire height until it was a wall. The ancient Roman story recounted by Rykwert (2013) of Plutarch’s ‘Life of Romulus’ speaks of Romulus slaying his own brother, Remus, for jumping over the farm wall of Romulus. Reportedly Plutarch was never satisfied that the offense was simply described as violating a sacred boundary as Romulus’ land had a serviceable gate accessible by all including Remus. This story is an early narrative about acceptable use of private land. The story’s theme is death will be meted out to those who violate the integrity of an actor’s works in a manner beyond the actor’s control. In this manner, a story’s theme became a law enforceable by the polis (and eventually the police).
The narrative allows the identity and domain of an actor to be situated in both time and space, making a verbal or written claim on works. The justification is the work is legally part of the actor due to investment of time or resources. The wall is the embodiment of a land use narrative that states "within these walls is not yours—keep out." All artifacts are developed to satisfy a need, and the isolation of domains within the urban fabric means the land is "spoken for": a story has been told that lays claim to this land and others have agreed with the the premise of that story and have acted to reserve it for the teller of the story.
Be it a law, a public work, or a building code, the moral of a policy story espoused in the public space first starts as a narrative (Pierce, Smith-Walter, & Peterson 2014; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014). Incidentally distributed by traders, these narratives guided many early city-states to codify some of the earliest recorded examples of land-use law in the Mediterranean region (Rykwert, 2013). Communities use laws to control the ritual activity of actors, their works, and their labors. Inspiring policy preference, the morals of narratives are codified into the will of the polis (Marris 1982; Throgmorton 1992; Yannow 1995; Paulsen 2004; Larkin 2013).
Policy and unconscious predisposition are both the result of meanings implied by a narrative (Gray & Jones, 2016). When a narrative uses plot, characterization, and setting it becomes storied. The moral of a narrative or story is a matter of interpretation by the audience of same. Story-craft leverages human cognitive function to cause the mind to adhere more implications to the given narrative (Schank, 1991). In contrast, rhetoric takes the intentionality of story-craft and insists the meaning of the narrative is present and critical to the polis (Cicero, 1954).
In contrast, informal stories are composed of the living stories of stakeholders (Alexander, 1979; Childs, 2008). Such myths of cities arising a posteriori, in that the myth of a city coalesces around dispirit facts and forms of the city in an attempt to give meaning, is employed to rationalize negative and positive values associated with a specific urban society (Aravot, 1995). This is the opposite of a priori myths, such as Rome's founding myth (which, arguably, could be a posteriori, as it would be difficult to prove one way or the other.) Where Rykwert (2013) would describe the idea of a town as an a priori story that organized the founding of a city and provided a durable pattern to unfold its future, urban change professionals today are tasked with composing a new core story from the narrative threads spun by the inhabitants (Alexander, 1979; Throgmorton, 1992; Childs, 2008; Tassinari, Piredda, & Bertolotti, 2017). Based on the Cassirerean theory that comprehension, Aravot (1995) stratified human cognition between the spheres of the practical and the theoretical at the conscious level, yet unconsciously there is a 'sympathetic' or meaning-aware cognitive functionality. "Thus the mythical perspective does not aspire to objectivity or neutrality but sees the world as saturated with emotional qualities." (Aravot, 1995: p.80) Christian Norberg-Schulz (1980) anthropomorphized this sympathetic cognition as the "genius loci", a "spirit of place" -- both guardian spirit and the ambiance of a domain:
Ancient man experienced his environment as consisting of definite characters. In particular he recognized that it is of great existential importance to come to terms with the genius of the locality where his life takes place... Survival depended on a 'good' relationship to the place in a physical as well as a psychic sense. (Norberg-Schulz, 1980: p.18)
Whether invoking Schank (1991) and second-order thinking, Avarot’s (1995) sympathetic cognition, or Norberg-Schulz (1980) numina, the common mode is an a pastori assemblage of stories and meanings. While many works have begun with an a priori development model, through time they are all recomposed, renovated, and repaired a pastori by subsequent generations (Alexander, 1979; Brand, 1991).
Thus as aggregators of many stories told by the polis, the works become storied. Actors may not be aware of the multitude of stories that surround a work, but they will be aware of semantic content associated by others. The a posteriori (i.e. informal) narratives are composed of the overlapping patterns of daily use.
In his article "A City is Not a Tree", Christopher Alexander (1966) described actors’ use of urban space as a densely nested semi-lattice of inter-related patterns of daily life. This semi-lattice describes the relationships between such prosaic urban elements as a news stand, a traffic light, and commercial store. Co-located, the three together have been observed to become an informal media source for users of that street intersection. This pattern is enmeshed in other patterns depending on time of day, week, season, and actors. They become meaningful when actors—in action over time—are observed using and recombining the patterns.
Four decades ago Christopher Alexander and his research team at Berkley University proposed a physical or "pattern" language and a intuitive method of assembling those patterns into urban fabrics (Alexander, Ishikawa, & Silverstein, 1977). Alexander’s method was predicated upon the intuition of both the designers and users in a design charrette process. The foundation of Alexander, Ishikawa, and Silverstein’s (1977) theory was the need for a spatial language that uses patterns of activity as the unit of the language.
The pattern language technique is a mixture of storytelling and graphical demonstration. The resulting publications are anthropological extrapolations of some northern European and northern American patterns of spatial use. These different systems of organizing space, like language, bounds actors’ memory, where they lend meaning to the actor’s definition of domain (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983; Aravot, 1995; Molotch, Freudenburg, & Paulsen, 2000; Paulsen, 2004; Bailey, Devine-Wright & Batel, 2016).
Domain’s limitation of Meaning
A narrative or story’s temporal dimension is the plot: the past injuries of the victim justify the present action by the protagonist—all of which is summed by the moral. Per narrative theory, changing the victim or hero of a story changes its moral, fundamentally changing the story (Herman, 2009). While the setting is interchangeable to a unitary story, it is not for narratives that are hypodiegeticly nested. The nested domains acts as a unifying thread to the story (Kwan & Ding, 2008).
Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (1978) is an example that does not rely on the unifying thread of domain. It is a collection of fictional city descriptions told by Marco Polo to Kublai Khan, fifth Khagan (Great Khan) of the Mongol Empire. The fictional Polo character is placating the ruler with descriptions of the various cities within the realm. The Kublai character knows he could not visit every city in his empire within one lifetime, and relies on reported descriptions to expand his sense of domain. The cities described are unitary, unique macro works unrelated by culture or other narratives. The result is a collection of fictional domains that mean nothing to the audience because the audience will neither visit them nor perform any rituals of life there in or share in the locals’ exotic rituals.
In contrast to the unitary nature of each "invisible city", the Scheherazade character of Alf layla wa-layla is also narrating to a ruler, but her stories are interwoven with stories and places to which Shahryar has domain. As one of the most popular "frame stories" of central Asia, the flexibility of Alf layla wa-layla allowed the narrator of Scheherazade’s tales to retain stories they understood or preferred, omit the others, and add new stories heard from other places. In this the meta-narrative is a pattern of plots, morals, and settings into which characters from different stories can be staged. The result is a hypodiegeticly layering (framed one within the other) of personal (micro) narratives within neighborhood/tribal (meso) narratives within cultural/regional (macro) narratives - each unique but using common domains.
To the actor, meanings are those elements of the narrative which integrates those layers already within their memory. When hearing or reading a story, the actor must rely on their internal faculty to fabricate a memory of the setting of the story. Unlike visual media, this imagined setting could only be generated from elements of the actor’s own memory of personal domains (Schank, 1991). This mode of active listening allows the actor to fabricate an artificial association with story domains using their personal domains.
This bias, where only known domains are the building blocks of imagined domains, greatly limits the variety of narratives that can be employed by an urban change professional. Visual media can aid in overcoming the limit imposed by experience, but as of this date the immersive potential of digital media is still restricted to the sense of sight and sound. Such media is consumed in discreet units within a persistent real domain in which the actor engages in the full spectrum of the human condition rituals.
Professional storytellers have subverted the limitation of actor experience through incorporation of descriptions of sensory experiences that the actor likely has in their memory, for example: the dripping of water, crackling of fire, the smell of coffee (Ellis 2012; Harvey, 2013). The more fragments of sensory memory a storyteller can evoke from an audience, the more the audience is mapping the story like a memory of their own domain. An example of this is a storyteller who, telling a small group of people who’s names he knew, integrated locations in the story to the listeners:
Shotoku built a grand palace four hundred years ago, on the hill behind where Angela bought the bread yesterday. (J. Convery, personal communication, December 28, 2010)
In this example, Convery emplaced Angela by name into the opening line of the story about a great king, and attached the Angela’s memory of the ritual of buying bread from the redolent bakery to anchor the her attention to the story about to be told.
While a domain’s cultural symbols may physically persist, new narratives can fail to promote semantic content of storied domains when they are not associated with listener domains (Harvey, 2013). Each individual and collective integrates new narratives into their ongoing emplaced stories. This can result in assigning new meanings to existing symbols, particularly as the work ages or changes over time (Filep, Thompson-Fawcett, & Rae, 2014).
When a domain loses all semantic meaning or becomes associated with negative narratives, the actors tend to abandon the domain (Jacobs, 1959). In both occasions, the point of inflection is the micro and meso domains of the actors. Policy makers tend to see morals of stories as unitary rather than framed, and the actors as recipients of policy solutions rather than the agents of change. The moral-cum-policy in isolation tends to fixate on the moral of one story and the associated works in isolation and disregard the nested story of the actors composed of many domains maintained by that diversity of actors (Yanow, 1995).
The actors practice this agency as the final arbiters of a new policy or works adoption into common use. If the urban change professional has not successfully mapped a common domain between the proposed change and the actor’s existing domains, the actors are likely to ignore the work (Yanow, 1995). Long-lasting works with no recent problems, such as buried water pipes, storm drainage, power supply, or natural infrastructure are usually not identified with by the polis. In contrast, roads are scenes of daily human drama, and have a higher share of community media. Until an infrastructure fails or under-performs, actors take it for granted and omit them from their domain maps.
The meaning of any domain map is representative of the actors’ bias. Without overlaying the different bias from each stakeholder actor, there is a lack of meaning for that actor (Pierce, Smith-Walter, & Peterson, 2014). Thus a common map includes all actors’ meaning. Without mapping actor bias, the map itself is devoid of relevance to the actors. This suggests a causal link between domain and meaning. As abstractions, maps cannot avoid incorporating bias as it is the bias that grants relevance to the actors’ domains (O'Looney, 1998; Paulsen, 2004).
This suggests a causal link between domain and meaning assigned to all works. It is incumbent on urban change professionals to address the source of morals (narratives) directly in order to produce moral outcomes with common domains with the local actors.
Chapter 7: Action and Narrative
Per Aristotle (1929), political power aggregates through persuasive political discourse. Political speaking urges the audience to either change society or maintain society (Rhetoric: i, 3, Freese, 1929). The political arena is only definable as a place where words are exchanged to motivate the combined action of the polis. Absent the words, the revelatory meaning of mute action is incomprehensible—and the continuity of society would be haphazard at best (Arendt 1959). Without describing the agent of the action and those influenced, the policy action is a violence committed by an agent against another.
Thus the political necessity of speech between contesting actors: speech offered only to supporters is propaganda meant to reinforce an argument for action taken against political opponents (Arendt 1959). Until the narrative is expressed to the political opponents, it is impossible to reach a negotiated solution.
This distinction includes political art which is a type of propaganda which relies on slogans, satire, or irony projected at an audience (willing or no). The beholder’s share of a work of art retains its relevance the the beholder without the artist’s signature, without a laborer or worker as subject, and without an opposing view (Arendt 1959). While policy change has been achieved through the use of propaganda, it is more akin to attacking or shaming the opposing actors. Its ability to foster a culture of cooperation between all parties is limited. The pathos (affect) or bathos (humor) of such art work does not avail itself of the full range of modes of persuasion as detailed by Aristotle in Rhetoric:
Ethos: appeal to the authority or credibility of the presenter (Rhetoric: iii.16.8, Freese, 1929)
Logos: appeal to logic and facts (ibid: i.11-12)
Kairos: situating the argument within the contemporary domain or mode of the culture or audience (ibid: ii.4)
Pathos: appeal to the emotions of the audience (ibid: iii.1-7)
These modes of expressing political narrative are constitutive of a citizen’s political agency (Deuten & Rip, 2000). The results of actors exercising their agency--exchanging stories and inspiring common action--are inherently unpredictable (Case, 2017). The diversity of personal histories and skills of all the actors combine into a new shared sense of meaning that will be specific to the moment and location (Arendt, 1959). Unlike the gardener who can predict crop yields or the engineer who can calculate the point of failure of a beam, an agent of political change, whether by mute action or political persuasion, cannot guarantee the stakeholders any particular policy outcome:
"This insertion [into the affairs of the polis] is not forced upon us by necessity, like labor, and it is not prompted by utility, like work... To act... means to take initiative, to begin," (Arendt 1959: p. 157)
Types of Stories:
Schank (1991, p.39) differentiates between 5 types of stories:
1. official stories that tend to be used for societal control;
2. invented/adapted stories that are inherently meant to entertain and are derived from historical stories;
3. first-hand stories recounted by witnesses;
4. second hand stories that we heard about others (i.e. rumors);
5. culturally common stories (ossified) are evolutions of narratives told ritualistically.
The official story that tends to become policy are negotiated value judgments based upon the stakeholder-actors. The intent of a official story is to affix cultural meaning, hence such stories (and the laws based upon them) are outdated at a rate roughly inversely proportional to their detail. The more specific a law is, the less generalizable is its application (Rhetoric: i, 13, Freese, 1929).
The invented and adapted stories have been used by two teams in a urban change professional application. Dunstan and Sarkissian (1994) recomposed the interviews of many local actors (types 3 and 4 stories) into a new story that relied upon the ossified, or mythic, mode. Tassinari, Piredda, and Bertolotti (2017) engaged in the same goal, but utilized local specific storytelling modes to present the new story in two case studies (puppetry and public access television). Both urban change professional teams noted stakeholder adoption of the new stories, though how much this is due to the novelty of the approach is untested.
The first-hand story is the least threatened by interlocutors. An individual’s expressed remembrances of facts can only be countered by challenging their credibility. Within public discourse, such an attack tends to polarize debates and leaves little room for negotiating perspective to a mutually supportive policy outcome.
The second-hand story has the least ethos of persuasion when spoken by a single orator. However, commonly-held second-hand stories tend to reinforce group identity, and can polarize a debate when challenged outright.
The ossified story takes on an air of "wisdom" in that it is both antiquated yet still kept relevant through associated sense of group identity. They tend to emphasize assumed cultural values and meaning, and are partly told to reinforce cultural bias and prejudice.
Elements of action narrative
Unlike the macro-culture focus of most culturally common stories, action narratives are future-oriented and emplaced in definable meso-level domains (Throgmorton, 1992). While micro-level narrative analysis can be action oriented, they are typically focused on the non-policy struggles of a single individual actor. The meso-level analysis blends elements of both with an ethnographic approach.
Most narratives, be they personal, traditional, fictional, or political, share a fundamental framework:
1. a setting or context: this can include physical and legal domains consequential to the problem in the plot
2. the characters: victims (those harmed), the villains who perpetuate the harm, and the hero who will stop the harm
3. a plot that introduces a temporal element (beginning, middle, end), providing both the relationships between the setting and characters, structuring causal mechanisms, and assigning blame to the villain;
4. the moral of the story, from which the beneficial result can be derived. (Jones & McBeth, 2010; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014 Gray & Jones, 2016) In policy narrative, logic plays a supportive role to the emotional components. Logic is the foundational premise of scientific research, and it is a common mistake for urban change professionals and academicians to rely on the logos of their argument without engaging the full spectrum of narrative elements (Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014; Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017).
Aristotle’s kairos is here equated to domain: the relevant time and place where the action narrative unfolds. Unlike the macro-culture focus of most traditional narratives, action narratives are future oriented and emplaced in definable meso-level domains (Throgmorton, 1992). Both however make themselves compelling by manipulating time, voice, and space (Eckstein & Throgmorton, 2003).
Sandercock, (2010) elaborates on these narrative variables of time and space (voice is a function of characterization, discussed below):
Space -- The interlocutor and audience judge the sincerity of the narrator partly upon the duration he or she assigns to the contested domain versus inconsequential domains proffered as supporting or damning examples. The narrator’s domain definition must successfully encapsulate actors as policy stakeholders (Deuten & Rip, 2000).
Time — A narrator can control the duration of different parts of a story so as to lend emphasis, or dismiss as inconsequential, certain characters or locations. Repeating important points or locations within a narrative suggests patterns of significance between context or character and policy theme (Sandercock, 2010).
As the meso-level analysis involves individual actors as a well as actor-networks, there is a considerable need to synthesize the affect and motivations of the characters per Aristotle’s pathos.
We are our own authors, being the central character of the autobiographical narrative, we create our- selves (Menary, 2008: p.68)
It is the characters of a narrative that link the time and place of the story to the emotional content, or pathos. The narrative pattern of cognition (Schank, 1991) relies on the imagined cast of characters to act in the plot of those cognitions (Menary, 2008). There must be the emotional catalyst of hope, fear, or desire for the pathos to arise in the mind of either the narrator or audience.
As the narrator aims to evoke the relevant emotion in the audience, the narrator must describe a character who is experiencing the action. The more completely the audience can imagine the character, the more they can sympathize with the character as a persona who might share their rituals and values. Thus they can identify with the character in the story. As discussed in the chapter on identity, this identification between the audience and the character engenders idiopathy in the audience. The imagined insults and adorations experienced by the imagined character is idiopathiclly assumed unto the audience (Wirling, 2014).
By mapping the emotional responses of a character, the audience tends to engage in more second-order cognition with the logic of the narrative: if logical data suites the assumed priors of the character the audience is more likely to adopt the results as truth, if it contradicts the character’s priors they will look to undermine the foundations of the logic. The character’s map becomes a frame of reference for the plot as a whole, and the other characters acting within the narrative. The victim is usually assigned the audience’s pity, the villain their ire, and the hero their sense of hope and justice. The hero’s action are the prime mover of narrative persuasion, regardless to the audience’s prior disposition of the policy subject as a whole (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017).
The characters significance to the audience is moderated by the narrator’s use of voice. The first person voice is used to indicate the narrator is reporting events as a direct actor. Use of the third person (she/he, they) or first person plural (we) indicates the narrator is an advocate, literally "adding voice" to promote the views of a actor/character coalition. Narrators will often employ more than one mode in a single story. Where they give prominence and where they suppress voice is judged by the audience as indicative of their bias; first person narration being associated with testimony is presumably less likely to be biased by others.
The use of first person plural in narrative is an overt coalition-building language that attempts to ask the audience to join the narrative’s chorus (Tassinari, Piredda, & Bertolotti, 2017). The traditional Greek tragedy uses the chorus to express the voice of the common characters separate from the central characters who move the plot. At the conclusion of a tragedy there is typically bliss, honor, loss, or destruction visited upon the hero, victim, or villain, but the chorus is left to absorb the lessons/theme/moral. The chorus is representative of the polis, witnesses to the drama. The appeal by a narrator to the chorus is an appeal for fair judgment of the moral of the story, to suggest the polis adopt a change to the community policy or fabric to reflect the lessons encapsulated in the narrative. Which voices, to what degree, and absent voices are highly indicative of the narrator’s bias (Sandercock, 2010).
While a personal (micro-level) narrative can be biased towards an action, they are typically focused on the strengths and limitations of a single individual actor. Mythic (macro-level) narratives are typically not change-oriented but focused on sustainment of cultural values. The neighborhood (meso-level) narrative blends elements of the two with an ethnographic approach. Meso-level policy action narrative involves individual fictionalized characters and actor-networks often based upon real actors and actor-networks as a means of arousing sympathy or apathy towards those actors (Ivory, 2013; Tassinari, Piredda, & Bertolotti, 2017).
As the real actors of a community are turned into characters of a narration, they tend to be simplified into one of the character types (victim, villain, or hero; Ivory, 2013). Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli (2017) describe this process as the devil-angel shift. Narrators will employ the "devil shift" to exaggerate the influence of their villains and their malicious motives. The "angel shift" exaggerates the narrator's (or narrator network's) ability to resolve the policy problem while specifically de-emphasizing villain characters (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017). Provided the audience is emotionally engaged by the characters’ interaction (i.e. the plot) the logic of the domain or research is subservient to the characters’ disposition towards the findings.
Plot: Linear and Spatial
What one character does to another and the ensuing results is the story plot-line oriented on the axis of time. While the narratives of political actors are rooted in their desire to protect themselves, goals, and priors, the narrative structure limits the categories for which audiences are culturally primed:
Three Basic Categories of Narratives
stories of social harmony being restored
stories of people of noble character who also have a fatal flaw
stories of just deserts
Disassociated from time, plot is used to refer to the two-dimensional graph of a community. O'Looney (1998) expanded upon classical narrative theory of plot-lines to the mappable society. The two dimensional plots can be combined into different narratives within the bounds community norms and expectations to form derivative designs.
The polis has the agency to compose their own neighborhood narrative by selecting a linear plot from a two dimensional group of plots. They are free to choose a starting point and the characters, and the outcome can reflect any of the three categories of narrative. Through this agency, the individual actors use narrative to express their emotional predisposition towards the domain. In comparing narratives (essentially sharing stories) they attempt to find consensus on the narrative category of the domain under consideration. Urban change professionals are usually obtruding on the local actor network, and must become acquainted with this endemic narrative infrastructure in the exercise of their agency.
An actor’s negative predisposition towards a domain will reduce its perceived sense of safety, and thereby the likelihood of ritual use. Expanding upon Jacobs’ (1961) principle of "eyes on the street", O’Looney (1998) claims the published map of a community can predispose actor narratives to plot-lines of decline: "When, for example, we avoid an area marked 'high crime area' on our map, we effectively reduce the number of 'public eyes' that can act in the capacity of a neighborhood watch." (O'Looney, 1998: p.211). The process of mapping tragedy tends to chart excessive individual actor strengths (O’Looney, 1998). Urban change professionals need to be aware that the plotting of tragedies on shared domain maps in exclusion of plots of success will brand a community, possibly even being adopted as the local cultural identity (thus starting a reinforcing cycle of decline, O’Looney, 1998).
O’Looney (1998) claims the inverse is true as well: that maps can include the intangible assets possessed within a community, not just the challenges and decline. There is a potential for political action that leverages the narrative potential inherent in a map: "…stories of community strength can activate self-fulfilling prophecies. An experience of prior success appears to enhance the possibilities of future success—even if the lessons of the earlier success or failure do not necessarily apply to the current situation." (O'Looney, 1998: p.222)
Any community’s domain is likely to have systemic assets and deficiencies. Mapping deficits establishes the domain where the rituals of a community have not led to subjective well-being or prosperity. The mapping of domains that emphasize adversarial, either-or, win-lose processes, even if the results came out in favor of the protagonists or victims, is inherently a map of tragedy. Alternatively:
[comic maps] emphasize unitary, multiple-perspective approaches to discovering truths… chart out the places, circumstances, and modes of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. (O'Looney, 1998: pp.218-219)
Where a tragic map might focus on equity, development, and the fostering of the arts, science and education, comic maps focus on domains that are venues of forgiveness between actors or where identities/rituals of actors are collocated. This process takes the original casting of the actors into the roles of victims and villains and proposes everyone involved in domain disputes be recast as humane actors in a story striving together for mutually beneficial outcomes. In the most strict definition of "comic" there needs to be an expected ending that is defied. O'Looney (1998) fails to make this obvious, but the notion of mapping where a community has overcome a negative reputation through "play" rather than "heroism" is inherently comic. The foundational theme of all comedy is humans succeeding together to spite the forces of entropy and short-term thinking (O'Looney, 1998).In a tragedy tale, the characters make a choice between two or more valuable goals, and one is sacrificed. In a comedy, one or more competing goal is demonstrated to be without value, and discarded. Working within a tragic narrative, the actor will likely be faced with elements of value that cannot be reduced to a "pro/con" assessment or benefit-cost analysis. Domains that harbor deep meanings for a community are not inherently quantifiable because of the layering effect of aggregated narratives over generations (Throgmorton, 1992). Often, a linear plot will exclude other narratives in the same domain. The spatial mapping of all the valuable goals can aid the urban change professional in mixing narratives to offset potential tragedies in the process of political action/impact.
Yet a comprehensive map of the narrative infrastructure is not sufficient if the goal is to effect change through community narrative adjustment. Narratives require the time dimension added to domain’s length and breadth. The moral of the narrative is derived from the plotting of various competing characters within that domain. The agency of any actor is dependent upon their use of kairos (Caquard & Cartwright, 2014). The narrative structure relies on cause and effect to seem consequential to the audience.
Narratives, by their very nature, are composed assuming an audience to receive a story. This dictates that the narrative is fundamentally inter-subjective: even narrative patterns of cognition assume an imagined audience (Menary, 2008). As the narrative cannot be conceived without the audience, the audience (intended or not) is a component of the narrative.
The relationship between the storyteller, the story, and the audience is the thesis of Hannah B. Harvey (2013) lecture series and text The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals. Stories persist in a venue only so long as the audience affective response is poignant. The persuasiveness of a story can be diluted by ineffective storytellers who fail to bridge the characters and the plot with the audience through the use of adjectives, similitudes, and metaphors to evoke the memory of sensory experiences and relevant cultural tropes (Ellis, 2012; Jones, McBeth, & Shanahan, 2014).
Narratives of political action, being future-oriented, are dependent upon the favorable reception by the polis to change the society. As members of the two dimensional plot of community, the the polis are chorus to all linear plots through their domain, and effectively characters in the proposed narrative (Throgmorton, 1992; Tassinari, Piredda, & Bertolotti, 2017). Except in performance with a hushed group, the storyteller must incorporate the political audience as interlocutor, joint author, or discursive partner in the delivery of political narrative (Menary, 2008)
In the inter-subjective arena of political narratives, the storyteller is presumed a character of the story or of a related story. For any narrative expressed, the polis presumes a subtext of the expressed narrative. The polis will rely on second-order thinking to identify a likely motivation for the narrator, regardless of how dispassionate the narrator or their subject matter (Throgmorton, 1992). The only purpose of speaking to the polis is to attempt to persuade the polis towards a combined action.
The action narrative’s persuasiveness lies upon a spectrum between canonicity and breach (Jones & McBeth, 2010). The status quo of sociality relations and interactions can be recorded in the ethnographic canon, or precedent, of the society. For the political narrative to breach canon is a violence to the polis’s collective sense of personal and/or spatial identity. The degree of breach that a story achieves is indicative of its persuasiveness (Jones & McBeth, 2010).
To avoid the appearance of an attack, a policy narrative’s goal is to tell a story with a moral condemning a ritual or law of the community — that it is counterproductive to the values or sustainment of the community. Narratives that mirror the culturally congruent to the audience’s prior cultural type are more likely to be tolerated, if not taken up by the polis (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017).
Congruence is achieved by cognitively transporting the audience into the plot of the story. Elaborating on the logics of a policy narrative requires an audience to engage in first-order thinking. The whole mind-frame of the audience is placed into a judgmental process where new givens are compared to established patterns. Narrative transportation erects a false world for the audience to imagine, populated with engaging characters and sensory cues that reinforce the visceral experience of the imagined world (Green & Brock, 2000; Jones & McBeth, 2010). The narrative can then rely on audience second-order thinking which makes it more likely the audience to follow the plot-line as laid out by the narrator. An imagined world manifests in the brain of the audience with the same neurological processes as their own memories (Schank, 1991).
This posits the narrative into the semi-lattice of memories of the audience members. Where descriptive details are lacking, suggesting incongruence, the audience will exercise their beholder’s share by subconsciously filling in the narrative with remembered experiences. Engaging simulated experiences triggers memory associations and causes the narrative to be incorporated into the personal map (Shanahan, Jones, McBeth, & Radaelli 2017).
The process of cognitively distancing the actors from their domain allows perspective, reflection, and appreciation of places (Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983); which is also typical of imagined landscapes when the audience mentally returns from being transported to the action of the policy narrative. Throgmorton (1992) has summed the process of persuasive storytelling about the future in five points:
- Urban change professionals are authors who emplot the flow of action using logical conflicts and their resolution to change the disposition of both the characters and the audience as they respond to evidence such as surveys, simulation models, forecasts of future conditions, or other data.
- The characters are interesting and idiopathiclly believable.
- The action’s kairos is accurate: the characters identify with the domain which is specific to the ritual or law under consideration.
- The author choose the appropriate voice to grant perspective on the action of the narrative, and is clear which character is relating to which, in what form, and with what mode or limitations. Once an ethical voice is chosen, it is seldom varied.
- Employ the use of imagery and rhetorical devices such as rhythm of language, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony to transport the audience and maintain their attention.
Persuasive storytelling relies on Aristotle's four modes of persuasion: ethos, logos, kairos, pathos. Agreeing upon the moral of a story is dependent on the audience participation in narrative transportation via authoritative speakers describing plausible chains of events in a sensorially dynamic domain about characters with plausible motives.
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