From a great tweet-starter by Thea Snow – ‘systems thinking comes naturally in oral cultures but is v difficult in literary cultures’ – discuss!
Hi systems tweeps 👋. A non-COVID related tweet.
The book I'm reading makes the very compelling point that thinking in systems comes naturally in oral cultures (thought is fluid), but is v difficult in literary cultures (thought is linear). Interested in other's reflections.
— Thea Snow (@theasnow) March 30, 2020
When I was young, and just beginning to travel with them, I imagined that indigenous people saw more and heard more, that they were overall simply more aware than I was. They were more aware, and did see and hear more than I did. The absence of spoken conversation whenever I was traveling with them, however, should have provided me with a clue about why this might be true; but it didn’t, not for a while. It’s this: when an observer doesn’t immediately turn what his senses convey to him into language, into the vocabulary and syntactical framework we all employ when trying to define our experiences, there’s a much greater opportunity for minor details, which might at first seem unimportant, to remain alive in the foreground of an impression, where, later, they might deepen the meaning of an experience.
If my companions and I, for example, encountered a grizzly bear feeding on a caribou carcass, I would tend to focus almost exclusively on the bear. My companions would focus on the part of the world of which, at that moment, the bear was only a fragment. The bear here might be compared with a bonfire, a kind of incandescence that throws light on everything around it. My companions would glance off into the outer reaches of that light, then look back to the fire, back and forth. They would repeatedly situate the smaller thing within the larger thing, back and forth. As they noticed trace odors in the air, or listened for birdsong or the sound of brittle brush rattling, they in effect extended the moment of encounter with the bear backward and forward in time. Their framework for the phenomenon, one that I might later shorten just to ‘meeting the bear’, was more voluminous than mine; and where my temporal boundaries for the event would normally consist of little more than the moments of the encounter itself, theirs included the time before we arrived, as well as the time after we left. For me, the bear was a noun, the subject of a sentence; for them, it was a verb, the gerund ‘bearing’.
continues in source: The Invitation | Barry Lopez | Granta Magazine