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Reading Our LivesThe poetics of growing old$
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William L. Randall and Elizabeth McKim

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306873.001.0001

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NARRATING EXPERIENCE: NARRATING EXPERIENCE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SELF

NARRATING EXPERIENCE: NARRATING EXPERIENCE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SELF

Chapter:
(p.22) Two NARRATING EXPERIENCE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SELF
Source:
Reading Our Lives
Author(s):

William L Randall

A. Elizabeth McKim

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306873.003.0002

This chapter explores the origins and operations of what the book calls “the narrative variable.” First, consideration is given to current research in neurology and cognitive neuroscience which suggests that at the most basic level of consciousness, and certainly at that of autobiographical memory, the human mind functions in a narrative fashion, chiefly through conceptual metaphor. The psychology of narrative — from consciousness to communication — is then discussed, moving from the swirl of perceptions and observations that continually characterizes our internal experience through an organizing process that entails reading, editing, and ultimately, narration. The chapter proposes that despite obvious differences, a lifestory (i.e., the narrative text which we compose (from within) around our lives) can be understood as similar to a literary story, and that the dynamics of personal identity can be conceived in terms of the dynamics and dimensions (including atmosphere and theme) that are at work in a novel.

Keywords:   autobiographical memory, consciousness, lifestory, metaphor, narration, narrative variable, neurology, novel

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