Cultural Crucible: Mischief, Stories and “More than Meets the Eye”

I (author @Michelle) have been studying complex systems across disciplines since the 1990’s. The thing about complex things is, there’s always “more than meets the eye”. Strangely this puts it at odds, increasingly, with science. Religion and philosophy haven’t fared much better because of the crosscurrents created by humanity treading deeper into the increasingly murky waters of globalization and technology.

What has fared better in the last century in the cultural eye is fictionalized murder mysteries and heist stories. Now, stay with me here. At the same time, large swaths of people from wide backgrounds find themselves amid culturally stable life circumstances. Yet, rather than sit back and simply enjoy fortunate tides when they come, people will actually seek out and spend spare time, perhaps adding up to a lot of time, entertaining fictional stories in which they contemplate in great detail Who-done-it? or Will-they-get-away-with-it? The stories might be written down as novels, filmed for dramatic media, portrayed on the big screen. Innocent stories and games of thievery abound as well, laying the ground for the later, often deadly serious versions of contending with the socio-cultural betrayal of responsibility: murder and grand theft.

If you expect me to make a point about privilege, you are wrong. What I want you to contemplate, in figuring out OKIC, is whether solving who-done-its and heists might serve a unique purpose, an experiential escape value from the oversimplification stuckness faced when orienting ourselves to collective psycho-social phenomena. The I’m okay You’re okay formulation of relatedness might be thermodynamically favored, but anyone with half a brain understands that an open system (a rough parallel being an “honor system”) is undercut by one thing: deception.

Take a murder mystery for example. You have evidence, including location, and suspects. In a heist you have opportunities and operands. Ambiguity is what keeps the story dynamic and unique to each person in an observer role, in terms of the significance or effectiveness of each suspect, piece of evidence or the like. Despite pervasive ambiguity, your interest in the story is propelled by an implicit assumption if not promise that the mystery can and will be solved. With that any remaining ambiguous significators in the story or one’s observations of it can be properly catalogued as significant, insignificant, what I expected, not what I expected. This is a satisfaction in and of itself. Similar to that of doing puzzles.

“The Suspense Is Killing Me”
“The Suspense Is Killing Me”

I am of the opinion that most of us have only a faint understanding, due to the timeless reasons being hidden from view until the introduction of OKIC, how wise we get in engaging such stories. Not as a factor of how emotionally fraught the story is, but rather how complex and nuanced not only the plot but the clues you as the reader navigate.

On the other hand, some may dismiss such stories as useless or simply diversionary. Similar to the way we understand that doing puzzles like Sudoku and crosswords keep our mind’s sharp, but feel conflicted about the amount of time and effort we put into them. Well constructed suspense stories support us, despite any good fortune that might lull us into a state of timeless bliss, to have fun navigating our world, constrained through time and subject in both real and fictional realms to the past through effective lenses and to the future through effective senses.

We don’t indulge in the suspense is killing me storytelling because we are proud of being a sucker for a good story constructed to present us with confusion and risks. We haven’t known enough how it might be one of the most important exercises we give our minds. By engaging an emergent fabric of intention and inference through which we can navigate preferences, we learn about real consequences of cherry picking information. By navigating deceptions rife in such stories, we also learn about the slipperiness of fool proofing life.

Moving through such lessons, to a sense of resolution, setting aside “the real world” in order to watch or read a suspenseful story, does something similar in our own experience to pulling a timeline reconfigured into a solution out of a magician’s top hat. In the case of murder mysteries and heists, we wrestle with a set of simplicities – evidence, suspects, operands, opportunities – and from those aim to divine truths from one or more timelines that are being in part hidden (made obscure or ambiguous) by the perpetrator(s). The subject of the essay “New Vistas in Realistic Optimism” [insert link]. If it’s a well-constructed story and we pay close enough attention, we experience being masterful in the art of focus and new insights into the nature of memory itself. The subject of Part 2, [insert linked page] is memory as a paradox.

It all connects back to Part 1 through the part of representational experience of meaning-making through the function of envisioning. To this end, understand that we are most often seeking “general intelligence” and “collective wisdom” for more effective envisioning, not just from mystery & heist stories, though they are special among forms of storytelling the world over.

The aim of Everyman’s Collection then is to crack the mystery for you of how that can be. By extension, the answer of “more than meets the eye”, the bane of so much socio-cultural turmoil is navigated, a window to the OKIC science of representational reality. Be forewarned, anyone who has ever felt the pull of a murder mystery or heist will not be disappointed by looking for the same thrill in the topsy-turvy geometric framing of complex relating that give us representational reality.