The accidental and the necessary

One sort of madness consists in seeing the accidental (or contingent) as necessary. We meet someone and later think that the meeting was fated; it was written in the stars. In La Nausée (1938), Sartre explores this issue. Nothing is actually necessary; it’s all contingent. Everything that has happened could have happened differently—or not have happened at all.

Don DeLillo and systems thinking

DeLillo also explores narrativization, or the creation of plots with actions, actors, purposes, etc. Burke’s pentad is useful here; the idea is that people create stories with acts, agents, agencies, scenes, and purposes. This is how we observe reality, or reduce the complexity of raw perception. We find the creation of stories with clear actors, purposes, etc., irresistible.

Hawthorne, Simmel, and Skepticism

“A large number of passengers were already at the station-house awaiting the departure of the cars. By the aspect and demeanor of these persons it was easy to judge that the feelings of the community had undergone a very favorable change in reference to the celestial pilgrimage. It would have done Bunyan’s heart good to see it.”

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