A HipBone approach to analysis V: DARPA and storytelling

The full spectrum of understanding that narrative might bring us will be found when the full spectrum from “one story” through “six” or “sixteen” to Rushdie’s “infinity” is taken into account, when we weigh the insights of the great novelists and poets of all cultures – Rumi, Shakespeare, Kalidasa, the anonymous singers of the Navajo Beautyway – alongside those of the critic, the psychoanalyst, the guy who puts together the Cliff’s Notes, and the editor with a headache’s headline version of the tale.

We need the forester and the lumber baron, the watercolorist and the fellow who identifies the habitats of the Lepidopterae

Narrative goes all the way from the obvious platitude to the work of genius. Somewhere along that scale, each one of us will have our area of interest, the place where our skill set fits and perhaps stretches. Numbers of board feet and likely return on investment can be assessed by quantitative means: the beauty of a particular oak tree in the eye of the novelist John Fowles is entirely qualitative, as is the language he must use to describe it.


I suspect DARPA may be stuck at the quantitative end of the spectrum. The mind of a Musab al-Suri demands a finer level of interpretation.

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2 comments on this post.
  1. zen:

    Excellent post.
    "I suspect DARPA may be stuck at the quantitative end of the spectrum"
    I think that is correct, though, I suspect, there are quite a few highly curious, wide-ranging, Freeman Dyson and E.O. Wilson sorts of intellects who could not "color within the lines" at other USG institutions or university departments and had exasperated superiors facilitate their transfer there.
    A long time ago, I suggested here that we needed a "foreign policy DARPA" which would require a lot of cultural-ethnolinguistic-historical-literary-entrepreneurial kinds of innovators. Be nice if something like that exists in the black budget world and not just at Google. Unless Google is the USG contractor for same…. 😉

  2. Charles Cameron:

    Thanks, Zen.
    I’m hoping Scott will respond here at some point, as I believe he’ll be at the DARPA event.