Narrative/Science Entanglements: On the Thousand and One Lives of Schrödinger’s Cat
The notion of entanglement, which in physics describes how two particles separated in space can communicate with each other, also applies to the supposedly irreconcilable cultures of science and narrative. The influence of science on narrative is easily demonstrated on the thematic level (science fiction, scientists as heroes); but narrative may also try to emulate the teachings of science, such as relativity, non-Euclidean geometry or quantum mechanics on a formal level, or set up a strange world that transposes cosmic or micro-phenomena on a human scale. In this paper I use Schrödinger’s cat as a test case for the study of the relations between narrative and science. I follow some of the lives of the famous feline from its initial appearance as an example meant to make a point in an otherwise abstract, purely argumentative scientific paper, to its narrative emancipation as a character or as a symbol in a story worth reading for its own sake. The cat paradox has inspired a variety of scientific and philosophical explanations. The purpose of my reading is to see which ones of these interpretations provide suitable narrative material—i.e. which ones present what it takes to inspire to the imagination situations of tellability.
Meaning, Intent, and the Implied Author
The implied author has been assigned three major functions: 1. The implied author is a necessary parameter in the communicative model of literary narrative fiction. 2. The implied author is a design principle, responsible for the narrative techniques and the plot of the text.3.The implied author is the source of the norms and values communicated by the text. In this article I propose a critique of the three functions and defend the idea that if an author-figure reveals itself through a text—a phenomenon which can occur to variable degrees—it is as the manifestation of a real person that this figure attracts the interest of the reader. J.L. Borges’ ironic text “Pierre Mesnard, Author of the Quixote” is invoked in support of the view that an implied author imagined on the basis of the text exclusively cannot account for its full significance.
Narratology and Cognitive Science: A Problematic Relation
Even though cognitive approaches have emerged as one of the most active fields of narratology, their scope, method and goals remain problematic: should they focus on the minds of characters, or on the mental operations involved in the creation and reception of stories? Should they borrow concepts top-down from cognitive science, or should they proceed bottom-up, by forming their own tools and hypotheses? Does cognitive narratology have something to contribute to cognitive science, and if so, wherein resides the explanatory power of the concept of narrative? Are our brains hard-wired with a specialized narrative schema, or does the concept of narrative cover more fundamental operations that we perform in other life situations? In this paper I situate cognitive narratology with respect to mainstream narratology, on one hand, and cognitive science on the other. Literary criticism deals with interpretation; it is concerned with individual texts; narratology describes the general features of narrative; it is concerned with a class of texts; cognitive psychology sets up experiments to study the operations involved in the processing of narrative texts; its focus is on the mind rather than on the text. In this paper I ask: is there still territory left to cover for a cognitive approach to narrative that relies on speculation, as does most of the work that passes as cognitive narratology, rather than on experimentation, as do standard psychological approaches to text processing?