I was reviewing my Schank notes and have spent some time contemplating a theme in the "Understanding Other People's Stories" chapter. The theme seems to be more of a thesis really which I think can be succinctly stated as, "all people are doing when they understand is figuring out what story to tell." I think I've missed something in the first half of the book, because Schank can't mean simply this (it seems too improvised). Let me try to explain what I mean.
According to Schank, we know that we understand a situation in relation to other situations we've already understood, now we can add to this that while we are referencing our indexes of understood experiences we are also preparing an appropriate story. Is this right? My fiancee is a therapist, and when she is working she attempts to understand her client's story while not imposing any story of her own. She is trying to create a space for the client to discover the narrative they are telling. This seems different to me. I can imagine that we may all find ourselves in situations where we are not trying to tell anyone a story, but are rather trying to listen to someone else's (while still trying to understand what we are experiencing). We may listen to someone's story and carefully pose questions or suggestions that help them develop that story.
Could Schank mean that in some cases when we're trying to figure out what story to tell that we are sometimes trying to manipulate others into telling the story we think they should be telling? That doesn't seem to be his intent, but I'm not sure here exactly what is.
We may understand experiences by referencing other experiences we've understood, and while doing so be preparing a story of our own to tell in relation to what we are presently experiencing, but is this a fully developed explanation of the entirety of our knowledge? Is it possible to experience understanding not by referencing our stories, but the stories of others? Perhaps a good friend isn't preparing a story to tell as they listen to ours, but she is rather referencing our stories in an attempt to help us better understand what we are trying to say or identify certain story patterns in our narrative.
Does this make any sense? Is it possible to hear someone tell a story and by referencing only their stories (not your own) help them come to a better understanding of that story? Maybe this is what I'm trying to say. In this situation we're not preparing a story to tell. Or are we?
Well, these were some thoughts I wanted to share with you all. I hope you're all having a great weekend. Take care and I'll see you on Monday......your friend in stories, Josh