Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Networks, Narratives, and Interaction

Bruner (1973: xi) described this duality as follows:“our knowledge of the world is not merely a mirroring or reflection of order and structure ‘out there,’ but consists rather of a construct or model that can, so to speak, be spun a bit ahead of things to predict how the world will be or might be”

Key Terms

  • Narratives
  • Culture
  • Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Meaning
  • Meaning making
  • Networks
  • Boundaries
  • Folk Culture
  • Communication
  • Sensemaking
  • Active Learning
  • Karl Weick
  • Dirk Baecker
  • Jerome Bruner
  • Erving Goffman
  • George Spencer Brown
  • Charles Sanders Peirce
  • Social Interactions
  • Strategic Interactions
  • Cultural Psychology
  • Systems
  • Social Systems
  • Individual and Collective
  • Symbolic Interactions
  • Face Work
  • Face to Face
  • Micro Sociology
  • Drama
  • Kenneth Burke
  • Chain of Events
  • Sequence of Events
  • Time Space
  • Choices, Conflicts, Dilemmas
  • Constraints, Limits, Boundaries
  • Networks, Connections, Interaction
  • Social Simulation
  • Discrete Events
  • Scenes, Scenarios
  • Games and Dramas
  • Harmony
  • Colors, Tones
  • Interaction Rituals
  • Interaction Order
  • Ethnomethodology
  • LL and LR Quadrants in AQAL Model of Ken Wilber
  • Many Faces of Man
  • Backstage and Frontstage
  • Russell Ackoff’s Interaction Planning
  • Faces, Masks, and Rituals
  • Frame Analysis
  • Self and Others
  • Social Constructivism
  • Agent Based Modeling
  • Cellular Automata
  • Computational Sociology
  • Micro Motives and Macro Behavior
  • Conversations
  • Strategic Conversations
  • Boundaries and Distinctions
  • Networks and Boundaries

Jerome Bruner ON Narratives

Source: Chapter 1 Narrative Inquiry: From Story to Method

… Narrative as a mode of knowing 

In 1984 at an address to the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jerome Bruner challenged the psychological community to consider the possibilities of narrative as one of two distinct and distinctive modes of thinking, namely the “paradigmatic” or logico-scientific mode and the narrative mode. For Bruner, each mode constituted a unique way of construing and constructing reality and of ordering experience. Importantly, neither of these modes was reducible to the other, as each was necessary in the development of human thought and action. Taking up these ideas in later writings, Bruner (1986) presents the narrative mode of meaning-making as one that “looks for particular conditions and is centred around the broader and more inclusive question of the meaning of experience” (p. 11), whilst the paradigmatic mode is characterised as one that is more concerned with establishing universal truth conditions.

Bruner has pursued the notion of “narrative” modes of thinking and explored the ways in which we draw on “narrative” modes of knowing as a learning process (1996a). For Bruner, we construct our understandings of the world “mainly in the form of narrative – stories, excuses, myths, reasons for doing and not doing, and so on” (2003, p. 44). In earlier writings, he points to the power and import of narrative as a meaning-making process, commenting that “our capacity to render experience in terms of narrative is not just child’s play, but an instrument for making meaning that dominates much of life in culture – from soliloquies at bedtime to the weighing of testimony in our legal system” (1990, p. 97). Importantly, Bruner suggests that our “sensitivity” to narrative constitutes a major link between our “sense of self and our sense of others in the social world around us” (1986, p. 69) and is the mode through which we “create a version of the world” with which we can live (1996a, p. 39).

Bruner’s work in the field of cognitive psychology constitutes one way in which narrative has been conceptualised within scholarship and has led to the establishment of the field of narrative psychology. It is perhaps serendipitous that Bruner’s account of the narrative mode of thinking occurred at a time of growing interest in the ways in which narrative might be drawn upon for research and inquiry purposes. As educators and scholars took up the “call of stories” (Coles, 1989) to provide alternative means to explore, interrogate, interpret, and record experience, “it helped that the messenger was Bruner, an enormously powerful scholar with unusual cross-disciplinary knowledge, stature, and impact, who ventured to articulate what narrative could mean to the social sciences at large” (Bresler, 2006, p. 23). Crucially, Bruner’s work leads us to consider narrative as more than a means of presenting meaning and to consider the role of narrative and narrative forms in “re-presenting,” in the sense of constructing meaning, both individually and collectively. For Bruner, narrative operates simultaneously in both thought and action, shaping the ways in which we conceive and respond to our worlds. In short, all cognition, whatever its nature, relies upon representation, how we lay down our knowledge in a way to represent our experience of the world . . . representation is a process of construction, as it were, rather than of mere reflection of the world (Bruner, 1996b, p. 95).

Here, a narrative might become a “template for experience” (Bruner, 2002, p. 34) that works on the mind, modelling “not only its world but the minds seeking to give it its meanings” (p. 27). This move from narrative as “story presented” to narrative as a “form of meaning-making,” indeed, a form of “mind-making,” has played an important role in the development of narrative as a method of inquiry in the social sciences.

Source: INTRODUCTION: BRUNER’S WAY/ David Bakhurst and Stuart G. Shanker

Another reason why Bruner is an ideal focus is his role in two crucial paradigm shifts in twentieth-century psychology. In the 1950s, he was an instrumental figure in the cognitive revolution, which restored to psychology the inner life of the mind after decades of arid behaviourist objectivism. Cognitive psychology prospered and, in league with other fields, evolved into ‘cognitive science’, conceived as a systematic inter- disciplinary approach to the study of mind (see Gardner, 1985). Bruner, however, gradually grew more and more dissatisfied with what cognitivism had become. In 1990, he published Acts of Meaning, in which he argued that the cognitive revolution had betrayed the impulse that had brought it into being. The revolution’s principal concern, Bruner argued, had been to return the concept of meaning to the forefront of psychological theorizing. But cognitivism had become so enamoured of computational models of the mind that it had replaced behaviourism’s impoverished view of the person with one no better: human beings as information processors. In response, Bruner argued forcefully that meaning is not a given, but something made by human beings as they negotiate the world. Meaning is a cultural, not computational, phenomenon. And since meaning is the medium of the mental, culture is constitutive of mind.

In many ways, Bruner’s objection was familiar. It had often been lamented that mainstream psychology was individualistic and scientistic, representing minds as self-contained mental atoms and ignoring the social and cultural influences upon them. In the last decade, however, this well-known critique has really been gaining momentum. Besides Bruner, both Richard Shweder (1990) and Michael Cole (1996) have sounded the call for a new ‘cultural psychology’. Assorted versions of ‘constructionist’ and ‘discursive’ psychology have appeared on the scene, joining a veritable chorus of diverse voices urging that psychology treat the mind as a sociocultural phenomenon (e.g., Edwards and Potter, 1992; Harré and Gillett, 1994; Gergen, 1999). It is particularly striking that these voices no longer come exclusively from the margins. Just as the left/right divide is collapsing in political theory, so the dichotomy between mainstream ‘individualistic/scientistic/Cartesian’ psychology and radical ‘communitarian/interpretative/post-Cartesian’ psychology has become outmoded. Cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind now commonly acknowledge that no plausible account of the mind can be indifferent to the context in which we think and act, and some significant works have appeared devoted to the cultural origins, and social realization, of human mentality (e.g., Donald, 1991). A psychologist interested in culture is no longer a counter-cultural figure.

Source: The narrative constitution of identity: A relational and network approach

From diverse sources it is possible to identify four features of a reframed narrativity particularly relevant for the social sciences:1) relationality of parts, 2) causal emplotment, 3) selective appropriation, and 4) temporality, sequence and place.43 Together, these dimensions suggest narratives are constellations of relationships (connected parts) embedded in time and space, constituted by causal emplotment. Unlike the attempt to produce meaning by placing an event in a specified category, narrativity precludes sense making of a singular isolated phenomenon. Narrativity demands that we discern the meaning of any single event only in temporal and spatial relationship to other events. Indeed, the chief characteristic of narrative is that it renders understanding only by connecting (however unstably) parts to a constructed configuration or a social network of relationships (however incoherent or unrealizable) composed of symbolic, institutional, and material practices 4.4


Narrative accounts must have at least two characteristics. They should center upon people and their intentional states: their desires, beliefs, and so on; and they should focus on how these intentional states led to certain kinds of activities. Such an account should also be or appear to be order preserving, in the sense of preserving or appearing to preserve sequence — the sequential properties of which life itself consists or is supposed to consist. Now, in the nature of things, if these points are correct, autobiographies should be about the past, should be par excellence the genre (or set of genres) composed in the past tense. So just for fun, we decided to find out whether in fact autobiographies were all in the past tense — both the spontaneous ones we had collected and a sample of literary autobiographies.

We have never found a single one where past-tense verbs constituted more than 70 percent of the verbs used. Autobiographies are, to be sure, about the past; but what of the 30 percent or more of their sentences that are not in the past tense? I’m sure it will be apparent without all these statistics that autobiography is not only about the past, but is busily about the present as well. If it is to bring the protagonist up to the present, it must deal with the present as well as the past — and not just at the end of the account, as it were. That is one part of it. But there is another part that is more interesting. Most of the “present-tense” aspect of autobiography has to do with what students of narrative structure call “evaluation” — the task of placing those sequential events in terms of a meaningful context. Narrative, whether looked at from the more formalistic perspective of William Labov (1982) or the more literary, historical one of Barbara Herrnstein-Smith (1986), necessarily comprises two features: one of them is telling what happened to a cast of human beings with a view to the order in which things happened. That part is greatly aided by the devices of flashback, flashforward, and the rest. But a narrative must also answer the question “Why”, “Why is this worth telling, what is interesting about it?” Not everything that happened is worth telling about, and it is not always clear why what one tells merits telling. We are bored and offended by such accounts as“I got up in the morning, got out of bed, dressed and tied my shoes, shaved, had breakfast, went off to the office and saw a graduate student who had an idea for a thesis…”

The “why tell” function imposes something of great (and hidden) significance on narrative. Not only must a narrative be about a sequence of events over time, structured comprehensibly in terms of cultural canonicality, it must also contain something that endows it with exceptionality. We had better pause for a moment and explore what this criterion of exceptionality means for autobiography and, incidentally, why it creates such a spate of present-tense clauses in the writing of autobiography.


The object of narrative, then, is to demystify deviations. Narrative solves no problems. It simply locates them in such a way as to make them comprehensible. It does so by invoking the play of psychological states and of actions that transpire when human beings interact with each other and relates these to what can usually be expected to happen. I think that Kenneth Burke has a good deal to say about this “play of psychological states” in narrative, and I think it would help to examine his ideas. In his The Grammar of Motives, he introduces the idea of “dramatism” (Burke 1945). Burke noted that dramatism was created by the interplay of five elements (he refers to them as the Pentad). These comprise an Actor who commits an Action toward a Goal with the use of some Instrument in a particular Scene. Dramatism is created, he argues, when elements of the Pentad are out of balance, lose their appropriate “ratio”. This creates Trouble, an emergent sixth element. He has much to say about what leads to the breakdown in the ratios between the elements of the dramatistic pentad. For example, the Actor and the Scene don’t fit. Nora, for example: what in the world is the rebellious Nora in A Doll’s House doing in this banal doctor’s household? Or Oedipus taking his mother Jocasta unknowingly to wife. The “appropriate ratios”, of course, are given by the canonical stances of folk psychology toward the human condition. Dramatism constitutes their patterned violation. In a classically oral culture, the great myths that circulate are the archetypal forms of violation, and these become increasingly “smoothed” and formalized — even frozen — over time, as we know from the classic studies of Russian folktales published by Vladimir Propp (1986). In more mobile literary cultures, of course, the range and variation in such tales and stories greatly increases, matching the greater complexity and widened opportunities that accompany literacy. Genres develop, new forms emerge, variety increase — at least at first. It may well be that with the emergence of mass cultures and the new massifying media, new constraints on this variation occur, but that is a topic that would take us beyond the scope of this essay (see Feldman, in this volume).

Erving Goffman On Interactionism

Source: Wikipedia

Goffman was influenced by Herbert BlumerÉmile DurkheimSigmund FreudEverett HughesAlfred Radcliffe-BrownTalcott ParsonsAlfred SchützGeorg Simmel and W. Lloyd Warner. Hughes was the “most influential of his teachers”, according to Tom Burns.[1][3][22] Gary Alan Fine and Philip Manning have said that Goffman never engaged in serious dialogue with other theorists,[1] but his work has influenced and been discussed by numerous contemporary sociologists, including Anthony GiddensJürgen Habermas and Pierre Bourdieu.[23]

Though Goffman is often associated with the symbolic interaction school of sociological thought, he did not see himself as a representative of it, and so Fine and Manning conclude that he “does not easily fit within a specific school of sociological thought”.[1] His ideas are also “difficult to reduce to a number of key themes”; his work can be broadly described as developing “a comparative, qualitative sociology that aimed to produce generalizations about human behavior”.[23][24]

Goffman made substantial advances in the study of face-to-face interaction, elaborated the “dramaturgical approach” to human interaction, and developed numerous concepts that have had a massive influence, particularly in the field of the micro-sociology of everyday life.[23][25] Much of his work was about the organization of everyday behavior, a concept he termed “interaction order”.[23][26][27] He contributed to the sociological concept of framing (frame analysis),[28] to game theory (the concept of strategic interaction), and to the study of interactions and linguistics.[23] With regard to the latter, he argued that the activity of speaking must be seen as a social rather than a linguistic construct.[29] From a methodological perspective, Goffman often employed qualitative approaches, specifically ethnography, most famously in his study of social aspects of mental illness, in particular the functioning of total institutions.[23] Overall, his contributions are valued as an attempt to create a theory that bridges the agency-and-structuredivide—for popularizing social constructionismsymbolic interactionconversation analysis, ethnographic studies, and the study and importance of individual interactions.[30][31] His influence extended far beyond sociology: for example, his work provided the assumptions of much current research in language and social interaction within the discipline of communication.[32]

Goffman defined “impression management” as a person’s attempts to present an acceptable image to those around them, verbally or nonverbally.[33] This definition is based on Goffman’s idea that people see themselves as others view them, so they attempt to see themselves as if they are outside looking in.[33] Goffman was also dedicated to discovering the subtle ways humans present acceptable images by concealing information that may conflict with the images for a particular situation, such as concealing tattoos when applying for a job in which tattoos would be inappropriate, or hiding a bizarre obsession such as collecting/interacting with dolls, which society may see as abnormal.

Goffman broke from George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer in that while he did not reject the way people perceive themselves, he was more interested in the actual physical proximity or the “interaction order” that molds the self.[33] In other words, Goffman believed that impression management can be achieved only if the audience is in sync with a person’s self-perception. If the audience disagrees with the image someone is presenting then their self-presentation is interrupted. People present images of themselves based on how society thinks they should act in a particular situation. This decision how to act is based on the concept of definition of the situation. Definitions are all predetermined and people choose how they will act by choosing the proper behavior for the situation they are in. Goffman also draws from William Thomas for this concept. Thomas believed that people are born into a particular social class and that the definitions of the situations they will encounter have already been defined for them.[33] For instance. when an individual from an upper-class background goes to a black-tie affair, the definition of the situation is that they must mind their manners and act according to their class.

In 2007 by The Times Higher Education Guide listed Goffman as the sixth most-cited author in the humanities and social sciences, behind Anthony Giddens and ahead of Habermas.[2] His popularity with the general public has been attributed to his writing style, described as “sardonic, satiric, jokey”,[31] and as “ironic and self-consciously literary”,[34] and to its being more accessible than that of most academics.[35] His style has also been influential in academia, and is credited with popularizing a less formal style in academic publications.[31] Interestingly, if he is rightly so credited, he may by this means have contributed to a remodelling of the norms of academic behaviour, particularly of communicative action, arguably liberating intellectuals from social restraints unnatural to some of them.

His students included Carol Brooks Gardner, Charles Goodwin, Marjorie Goodwin, John Lofland, Gary Marx, Harvey SacksEmanuel Schegloff, David Sudnow and Eviatar Zerubavel.[1]

Despite his influence, according to Fine and Manning there are “remarkably few scholars who are continuing his work”, nor has there been a “Goffman school”; thus his impact on social theory has been simultaneously “great and modest”.[30] Fine and Manning attribute the lack of subsequent Goffman-style research and writing to the nature of his style, which they consider very difficult to duplicate (even “mimic-proof”), and also to his subjects’ not being widely valued in the social sciences.[3][30] Of his style, Fine and Manning remark that he tends to be seen either as a scholar whose style is difficult to reproduce, and therefore daunting to those who might wish to emulate it, or as a scholar whose work was transitional, bridging the work of the Chicago school and that of contemporary sociologists, and thus of less interest to sociologists than the classics of either of those groups.[24][30] Of his subjects, Fine and Manning observe that the topic of behavior in public places is often stigmatized as trivial and unworthy of serious scholarly attention.[30]

Nonetheless, Fine and Manning note that Goffman is “the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century”.[36] Elliott and Turner see him as “a revered figure—an outlaw theorist who came to exemplify the best of the sociological imagination”, and “perhaps the first postmodern sociological theorist”.[14]

Source: Looking back on Goffman: The excavation continues

The “descent of the ego,” then, was witnessed by both Durkheim and Goffman in terms of the mechanisms at work in modem Western society whereby the tendencies toward an unbridled egoistic individualism are continually rebuffed (Chriss, 1993). MacCannell successfully makes the case for such a Durkheim-Goffman link through a semiotic sociology which resists the temptation of explaining in solely positivistic terms why it is that in modem Western society, imbued as it is with a strong ethic of individualism, we nevertheless see persons orienting their actions toward a perceived moral universe and the accommodation of the other. Like Durkheim and many of the great students of society from Plato to Hobbes, from Kant to Parsons, Goffman was ultimately concerned with the question, how is social order possible (Berger, 1973: 356; Collins, 1980: 173)?

Burns recognizes the Durkheim-Goffman link as well, but carries the analysis even further by comparing and contrasting Durkheim’s notion of social order with Goffman’s interaction order. Durkheim’s sui generis reality was society; Goffman’s is the encounters between individuals, or the social act itself. The moral order which pervades society and sustains individual conduct constitutes a “social fact” in both Durkheim’s and Goffman’s eyes. But Burns (1992) notes also that for Durkheim this order was·seen as durable and all-sustaining, whereas for Goffman “it was fragile, impermanent, full of unexpected holes, and in constant need of repair” (p.26).

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Relational Turn in Economic Geography

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Key Sources of Research

The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology

edited by Jaan Valsiner

Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning

By Bradd Shore

Erving Goffman on Wikipedia

On Face-Work
An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction

Erving Goffman
Pages 213-231 | Published online: 08 Nov 2016

Chapter in Book Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face to Face Behavior

Click to access Goffman,%20Erving%20%27On%20Face-work%27.pdf

Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-To-Face Behavior

E. Goffman

Published 1967


Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction.

Goffman, Erving. 1961

Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. 

Goffman, Erving. 1959. 

New York: Doubleday Anchor.

Strategic interaction.

Goffman, Erving (1969), 

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience.

Goffman, E. (1974). 

New York: Harper & Row.

Sociology. Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide. 

Hevern, V. W. (2004, Apr). 

Retrieved [3/15/2021] from the Le Moyne College Web site:

Narrative scenarios: Toward a culturally thick notion of narrative. 

Brockmeier, J. (2012). 

In J. Valsiner (Ed.), Oxford library of psychology. The Oxford handbook of culture and psychology (p. 439–467). Oxford University Press.

Erving Goffman

Looking back on Goffman: The excavation continues

James J. Chriss 

Cleveland State University


Sociology & Criminology Faculty Publications. 98.

Beyond Goffman: Studies on Communication, Institution, and Social Interaction


Erving Goffman: Exploring,the interaction order 


Tom Burns’s Erving Goffman


Chapter 1
Narrative Inquiry: From Story to Method

Troubling Certainty

Margaret S. Barrett and Sandra L. Stauffer

In Narrative Inquiry in Music Education

DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9862-8  

Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009


David Bakhurst and Stuart G. Shanker

In Jerome Bruner: Language, Culture, Self

Edited by
David Bakhurst and Stuart G. Shanker

Sage Publications, 2001

Analyzing Narratives and Story-Telling

Matti Hyvärinen


The narrative constitution of identity: A relational and network approach


Universityof Michigan

TheoryandSociety23: 605-649, 1994

Cognitive–Linguistic and Constructivist Mnemonic Triggers in Teaching Based on Jerome Bruner’s Thinking

Jari Metsämuuronen1* and Pekka Räsänen2

  • 1Department of Pedagogy, NLA University College, Bergen, Norway
  • 2Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland

Front. Psychol., 12 December 2018 |

Storytelling and the Construction of Realities

Paul Stoller

Etnofoor Vol. 30, No. 2, Race-ism (2018), pp. 107-112 

The Construction of Identity in the Narratives of Romance and Comedy

Kevin Murray 

Texts of Identity In J.Shotter & K.Gergen (eds.)  London: Sage (1988)

The Construction of Identity in the Narratives of Romance and Comedy

Actual Minds, Possible Worlds

By Jerome S. BRUNER

The Narrative Construction of Reality

Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner Life as a Narrative

Polarising narrative and paradigmatic ways of knowing: exploring the spaces through narrative, stories and reflections of personal transition


David Cleaver University of Southern Queensland

Possibilities for Action: Narrative Understanding

Donald Polkinghorne

Fielding Graduate University

Two Modes of Thought

Jerome Bruner

Narrating the Self


Barbara Czarniawska

Acts of meaning. 

Bruner, J. (1990). 

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Language learner stories and imagined identities

Margaret Early and Bonny Norton
Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia

Narrative Rhetorics in Scenario Work: Sensemaking and Translation

Zhan Li
University of Southern California USA

Chapter 2
Self-making and world-making

Jerome Bruner

In Narrative and Identity

Studies in Autobiography, Self and Culture

Jens Brockmeier
University of Toronto & Freie Universität Berlin

Donal Carbaugh
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

John Benjamins Publishing Company

A Grammar of Motives

By Kenneth Burke

Essays Toward a Symbolic of Motives, 1950–1955

By Kenneth Burke


Kenneth Burke

Click to access CaricatureofCourtshipKafkaCastleKennethBurke.pdf

A Calculus of Negation in Communication

Cybernetics & Human Knowing 24, 3–4 (2017), 17–27

Posted: 23 Jan 2018

Dirk Baecker

Witten/Herdecke University

Date Written: September 1, 2017

Working the Form: George Spencer-Brown and the Mark of Distinction*

Dirk Baecker

Universität Witten/Herdecke

Shape of things to come: From the ‘laws of form’ to management in the post-growth economy

André Reichel volume 17(1): 89-118

Click to access 17-1reichel.pdf

Systems, Network, and Culture

Dirk Baecker Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, Germany

Presented at the International Symposium “Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences”, Berlin, September 25-26, 2008

Click to access baecker2.pdf

Organisations as distinction generating and processing systems: Niklas Luhmann’s contribution to organisation studies

David Seidl and Kai Helge Becker


Niklas Luhmann
TRANSLATED BY John Bednarz, Jr., with Dirk Baecker FOREWORD BY Eva M. Knodt

Introduction to Systems Theory

Niklas Luhmann

Click to access Niklas_Luhmann_Introduction_to_System_Theory.pdf

Mysteries of cognition. Review of neocybernetics and narrative by bruce clarke.

Baecker D. (2015)

Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 261–263.

The Communication of Meaning in Anticipatory Systems: A Simulation Study of the Dynamics of Intentionality in Social Interactions

Loet Leydesdorff

In: Daniel M. Dubois (Ed.) Proceedings of the 8th Intern. Conf. on Computing Anticipatory Systems CASYS’07, Liège, Belgium, 6-11 August 2007. Melville, NY: American Institute of Physics Conference Proceedings, Vol. 1051 (2008) pp. 33-49.

Why Systems?

Dirk Baecker

Universität Witten/Herdecke

Theory Culture & Society 18 (2001), pp. 59-74


In collaboration with the Liverpool University
and the Laws of Form 50th Anniversary Conference.
Alphabetum III
September 28 — December 31, 2019 West Den Haag, The Netherlands

Click to access Alphabetum_III_V8_ONLINE.pdf

Systems in Context
On the outcome of the Habermas/Luhmann

Poul Kjaer

Niklas Luhmann and Organization Studies

Edited by
David Seidl and Kai Helge Becker

Click to access 9788763003049.pdf

A Note on Max Weber’s Unfinished Theory of Economy and Society

Dirk Baecker
Witten/Herdecke University, Germany

The fractal geometry of Luhmann’s sociological theory or debugging systems theory

José Javier Blanco Rivero

CONICET/Centro de Historia Intelectual, National University of Quilmes, Roque Sáenz Peña 352, Bernal, Argentina

Technological Forecasting & Social Change 146 (2019) 31–40

Diamond Calculus of Formation of Forms

A calculus of dynamic complexions of distinctions as an interplay of worlds and distinctions

Archive-Number / Categories 3_01 / K06, K03
Publication Date 2011

Rudolf Kaehr (1942-2016)

Click to access rk_Diamond-Calculus-of-Formation-of-Forms_2011.pdf


Niklas Luhmann


Snakes all the Way Down: Varela’s Calculus for Self-Reference and the Praxis of Paradise

André Reichel*

European Center for Sustainability Research, Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany

Systems Research and Behavioral Science Syst. Res. (2011)
Published online in Wiley Online Library ( DOI: 10.1002/sres.1105

Who Conceives of Society?

Ernst von Glasersfeld

University of Massachusetts

Constructivist Foundations 2008, vol. 3, no. 2

Click to access glasersfeld.pdf

Dramaturgy (sociology)


Beyond Bourdieu:
The Interactionist Foundations of Media Practice Theory

PETER LUNT University of Leicester, UK

International Journal of Communication 14(2020), 2946–2963

Drama as Life: The Significance of Goffman’s Changing Use of the Theatrical Metaphor

Phil Manning

Sociological Theory Vol. 9, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 70-86 (17 pages) 

Published By: American Sociological Association


Simon Susen

In: H. F. Dahms & E. R. Lybeck (Eds.), Reconstructing Social Theory, History and Practice. Current Perspectives in Social Theory. (pp. 111-143). Bingley, UK: Emerald. ISBN 9781786354709

Mainstreaming Relational Sociology – Relational Analysis of Culture in Digithum

P. Baert. Published 2016

The Foundations of the Social: Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology

S. Susen. Published 2007

Language, self, and social order: A reformulation of Goffman and Sacks

A. RawlsPublished 1989SociologyHuman Studies

The Interaction Order: American Sociological Association, 1982 Presidential Address

Author(s): Erving Goffman

Reviewed work(s):
Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Feb., 1983), pp. 1-17 Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: .

Face and interaction

Michael Haugh

(2009): In Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini and Michael Haugh (eds.), Face, Communication and Social Interaction, Equinox, London, pp.1-30.

Public and private faces in web spaces – How Goffman’s work can be used to think about purchasing medicine online. 

Lisa Sugiura

Organizational Analysis: Goffman and Dramaturgy  

Peter K. Manning

The Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory, and Organization Studies: Contemporary Currents

Edited by Paul Adler, Paul du Gay, Glenn Morgan, and Mike Reed

Print Publication Date: Oct 2014

Complete bibliography: Erving Goffman ́s writings

Persson, Anders


Click to access s7769.pdf

A review of Jerome Bruner’s educational theory:

Its implications for studies in teaching and learning and active learning (secondary publication)


Faculty of Economics Nagoya Gakuin University

Click to access syakai_vol5401_11.pdf

The Use of Stories in Moral Development: New Psychological Reasons for an Old Education Method

DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.45.6.709

Narrative Understanding and Understanding Narrative

Sarah E. Worth

Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive): Vol. 2 , Article 9.
Available at:

A Unifying Model of Arts

A Unifying Model of Arts

Key Terms

  • Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni
  • Poetics of Aristotle
  • Narrative Arts
  • Narrative Psychology
  • Drama Therapy
  • Social Simulation
  • Learning and Reflection
  • Normative Choices
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Mirrors
  • Psychological Mirrors
  • Self as Other
  • Other as Self
  • Coordination Arts
  • Competition Vs Cooperation
  • Networks and Hierarchy
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Drama/Films/Theater
  • Visual Arts
  • Diegesis
  • Haple diegesis
  • Diegesis dia mimeseos
  • Diegesis di’ amphoteron
  • Mimesis

Source: A Unifying Model of the Arts: The Narration/ Coordination Model

The Narration/Coordination model is presented as a unifying model of the arts with regard to psychological processing and social functions. The model proposes a classification of the arts into the two broad categories of the narrative arts and the coordinative arts. The narrative arts function to tell stories, often to promote social learning through the modeling of prosocial behaviors. The coordinative arts function to stimulate group participation through synchronized action, thereby serving as a reinforcer of group affiliation and a promoter of social cooperation. These two categories vary with regard to a number of psychological and social features related to personal engagement, role playing, cognitive structure, and performance. The arts are evolutionarily adaptive because they promote social cooperation through two distinct routes: the simulation of prosocial behaviors via the narrative arts, and the stimulation of group synchronization and cohesion via the coordinative arts.

Narrative and Coordinative Arts


Narration/Coordination Model of the Arts


Features of Narrative and Coordinative Arts


Classification of Arts


Interaction among the Arts


Modular Aspects of Performance Arts


Connections Between the arts: an Indian Perspective


The view that the arts belong to the domain of the sacred and that there is a connection between them is given most clearly in a famous passage in the Vishnudharmottara Purana in which the sage Markandeya instructs the king Vajra in the art of sculpture, teaching that to learn it one must first learn painting, dance, and music:

Vajra: How should I make the forms of gods so that the image may always manifest the deity?

Markandeya: He who does not know the canon of painting (citrasutram) can never know the canon of image-making (pratima lakshanam).

Vajra: Explain to me the canon of painting as one who knows the canon of painting knows the canon of image-making.

Markandeya: It is very difficult to know the canon of painting without the canon of dance (nritta shastra), for in both the world is to be represented.

Vajra: Explain to me the canon of dance and then you will speak about the canon of painting, for one who knows the practice of the canon of dance knows painting.

Markandeya: Dance is difficult to understand by one who is not acquainted with instrumental music (atodya).

Vajra: Speak about instrumental music and then you will speak about the canon of dance, because when the instrumental music is properly understood, one understands dance.

Markandeya: Without vocal music (gita) it is not possible to know instrumental music.

Vajra: Explain to me the canon of vocal music, because he, who knows the canon of vocal music, is the best of men who knows everything.

Markandeya: Vocal music is to be understood as subject to recitation that may be done in two ways, prose (gadya) and verse (padya). Verse is in many meters.

My Related Posts:

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Aesthetics and Ethics

Arts and Moral Philosophy

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

Understanding Rasa: Yoga of Nine Emotions

Rituals | Recursion | Mantras | Meaning : Language and Recursion

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Luminosity and Chromaticity: On Light and Color

Geometry of Consciousness

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Key Sources of Research:

Toward a Unification of the Arts

Steven Brown*

Front. Psychol. 9:1938. 2018

doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01938

Psychology of Narrative Art

Keith Oatley and Maja Djikic

A Unifying Model of the Arts: The Narration/ Coordination Model

Steven Brown

Empirical Studies of the Arts 2019, Vol. 37(2) 172–196

Click to access NarrCoord.pdf

Interaction, narrative, and drama: Creating an adaptive interactive narrative using performance arts theories

Magy Seif El-Nasr

Art, dance, and music therapy

Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots: The Narrative Structure of Experience (Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology)1st Edition

Cheryl Mattingly

A hypothesis on the biological origins and social evolution of music and dance

Tianyan Wang

Narrative, Emotion, and Insight

Edited by Noël Carroll, and John Gibson

The narrative arc: Revealing core narrative structures through text analysis

  • Ryan L. Boyd1,*
  • Kate G. Blackburn2 and 
  • James W. Pennebaker2

 Science Advances   07 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 32, eaba2196
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba2196

Historical Narratives and the Philosophy of Art

Noël Carroll

The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 

Vol. 51, No. 3, Philosophy and the Histories of the Arts (Summer, 1993),

pp. 313-326 (14 pages) Published By: Wiley

Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories

Gregory Currie

The Poetics, Aesthetics, and Philosophy of Narrative

Noël Carroll

Wiley-Blackwell (2009)

The Psychology of Narrative Thought: How the Stories We Tell Ourselves Shape our lives

By Lee Roy Beach

Narrative: State of the Art

Click to access Bamberg,%20%20%20%20%20%20Narrative-State%20of%20the%20Art,%20%20%20%20%20%20Georgakopoulou%20Thinking%20Big%20with%20small%20stories%20in%20narrative%20and%20%20%20%20%20%20identity%20analysis.pdf

Narrative Psychology, Trauma and the Study of Self/Identity

Michele L. Crossley

Theory and Psychology Vol 10, Issue 4, 2000

First Published August 1, 2000

The “Who” System of the Human Brain: A System for Social Cognition About the Self and Others

Steven Brown*

  • Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 19 June 2020 |“Who”-System-of-the-Human-Brain%3A-A-System-for-Brown/ba6117482c0a649736251ef80ab12f6cf9cb7032

The Synthesis of the Arts: From Ceremonial Ritual to “Total Work of Art”

Steven Brown1* and Ellen Dissanayake2

  • 1Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
  • 2School of Music, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States

Front. Sociol., 15 May 2018 |

Storytelling Is Intrinsically Mentalistic: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Narrative Production across Modalities

Ye Yuan, Judy Major-Girardin, and Steven Brown

The neural basis of audiomotor entrainment: an ALE meta-analysis

Léa A. S. ChauvignéKevin M. Gitau and Steven Brown*

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 30 September 2014 |

The Evolution and Ontogeny of Ritual

Part VI. Culture and Coordination

Cristine H. LegareRachel E. Watson‐Jones

The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

First published: 18 November 2015

On the distinction of empathic and vicarious emotions

Frieder M. Paulus1,2*, Laura Müller-Pinzler1Stefan Westermann1 and Sören Krach1*

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 15 May 2013 |

The Narrative Construction of Reality

Jerome Bruner

Click to access bruner1991narrative.pdf

Cooperation and the evolution of hunter-gatherer storytelling

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02036-8


Ancient or Modern? Alexander G. Baumgarten and the Coming of Age of Aesthetics

Alessandro Nannini

Click to access 0353-57381503629N.pdf


Stephen Davies, Philosophy, University of Auckland

Diegesis – Mimesis

Stephen Halliwell
Created: 17. October 2012 Revised: 12. September 2013

Published on the living handbook of narratology (–-mimesis

Art and Cosmology in India

Subhash Kak 2006

Cosmic Mirror Theory

Cosmic Mirror Theory

Source: Why some physicists really think there’s a ‘mirror universe’ hiding in space-time

Why does the Universe look like a Gemstone? A Jewel? An Opal maybe?

Why does the Universe look like an egg? Brahmanda?

Concept of Mirror is invoked in four ways in Cosmology

  • Shape of the Universe – Multi-connected manifolds – Dodecahedron topology – Reflecting Surfaces – Hall of Mirrors – Cosmic Crystals
  • Mirror Universe – a Parallel universe- Universe having a mirror twin – before the Big Bang – Symmetrical Opposite
  • Black Holes – Black Holes have mirror opposite in White Holes
  • Universe as a Hologram

Key Terms

  • Cosmic Hall of Mirrors
  • Parallel universe
  • Black holes
  • White Holes
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Shape of the Universe
  • Multiverse
  • Indira’s Net
  • Buckminster Fuller
  • Mirror Symmetry
  • Quantum Biology
  • Relational Science
  • Entanglements
  • Action at a distance
  • Holographic Universe
  • Fractal Universe
  • Recursive Universe
  • Universe as a Cow
  • Universe as a Human
  • Universe as Brahmanda
  • CBOE
  • WMAP
  • ACT
  • Curvature of Space
  • Topology of Space
  • Cosmic Topology
  • Cosmic Harmonics
  • Dodecahedral Space
  • Triloka (Three Universes)
  • Trikaal (Three Times)
  • MultiConnected Manifolds
  • Age of Universe – 13.77 Billion Years
  • 14 Lokas in Hinduism – Realms – Levels
  • Anthromorphic Universe
  • Maha Vishnu
  • 5 Sheaths (Kosh) in Humans
  • Tripartite Universe
  • Triguna
  • Interconnected Hypothesis
  • Cosmic Microwave Background CMB
  • Dark Energy
  • Dark Matter
  • Mirrorverse

Shape of the Universe


Cosmic Microwave Background from different probes

Source: Pintrest/478366791654117997/



Source: PLANCK Data 2018

Source: Decoding the cosmic microwave background

Decoding the cosmic microwave background

The Big Bang left behind a unique signature on the sky. Probes such as COBE, WMAP, and Planck taught us how to read it.

By Liz Kruesi | Published: Friday, July 27, 2018

This all-sky map, released in March 2013 and based on 15.5 months of observation, shows tiny fluctuations in the temperature of the CMB. These variations correspond to minute under- and over-densities of matter that ultimately led to the large-scale structure we see in the universe today. The redder areas represent above-average temperatures, and bluer areas show temperatures colder than average.

European Space Agency, Planck Collaboration

A glow undetectable to the human eye permeates the universe. This light is the remnant signature of the cosmic beginning — a dense, hot fireball that burst forth and created all mass, energy, and time. The primordial cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation has since traveled some 13.8 billion years through the expanding cosmos to our telescopes on Earth and above it.

But the CMB isn’t just light. It holds within it an incredible wealth of knowledge that astronomers have been teasing out for the past few decades. “It’s the earliest view we have of the universe,” says Princeton University cosmologist Joanna Dunkley. “And it gives us so much information because all the things that we now see out in space — the galaxies, the clusters of galaxies — the very earliest seeds of those, we see in this CMB light.”

Extracting these clues from the CMB has taken multiple generations of telescopes on the ground, lofted into the atmosphere, and launched into space. In the mid-1960s, when Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the CMB’s pervasive microwave static across the sky, it appeared identical everywhere. It would take satellites launched above Earth’s obscuring atmosphere to map that microwave glow to precisions on the order of millionths of a degree. Specifically, three satellites — COBE, WMAP, and Planck — revealed that our current cosmos, which is complex and filled with clusters of galaxies, stars, planets, and black holes, evolved from a surprisingly simple early universe.

The Planck satellite produced the most detailed image of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) to date.

The universe began with the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago as a fiery sea that expanded rapidly. A few minutes later, the universe’s constituent primordial subatomic particles glommed together into an elemental soup of atomic nuclei containing hydrogen, helium, and trace amounts of lithium. Electrons and light collided and scattered off of those atomic nuclei. Over the next thousands of years, the cosmos continued to expand, giving the particles more room to move and allowing the universe’s temperature to cool bit by bit. Around 380,000 years after the Big Bang, the temperature dropped to about 3,000 kelvins, cool enough for electrons to latch onto hydrogen nuclei. The universe became mostly neutral hydrogen, with some heavier elements swirled in.

With fewer individual particles zooming around, light could finally move about freely. And so it has traveled, mostly unhindered, in the approximately 13.8 billion years since that time of “last scattering.” These photons carry a snapshot of the 380,000-year-old universe.

Since the 1960s, telescopes on Earth have captured that glow in every direction of the sky. While the light 380,000 years into the universe’s history would have been visible to human eyes if we were around, cosmic expansion has since stretched the light into the longer wavelengths of microwaves — at least, that’s the wavelength astronomers had predicted. But would observations match theory?

The three probes

The Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) launched in 1989. One of its instruments measured the intensity of the microwave glow at wavelengths ranging from 0.1 to 10 millimeters across the entire sky. The COBE science team’s first announcement, in 1990, was the result of that measurement. The radiation’s intensity plotted by wavelength makes it obvious that the CMB has a very specific intensity curve, where the strongest signal is at 2 mm. That wavelength corresponds to a temperature of 2.725 K. (The wavelength of light, and thus how much energy that light carries, is directly related to its temperature; redder light has less energy and a lower temperature than bluer light.)

COBE’s other instrument broke apart the seemingly uniform 2.725 K glow into more detail, looking for spots where the temperature is warmer or colder than average. It turned out there is a difference of only a tiny fraction of a degree, about 0.00001 K, between hotter and colder spots.

Each successive cosmological probe has improved astronomers’ view of the CMB with better resolution, revealing ever-finer details (anisotropies in temperature and density) that hold the key to assembling an accurate picture of our young universe.

This nearly identical cosmic glow with exactly the right temperature was concrete evidence that the entire sky — the entire observable universe — began in a Big Bang. With such tiny temperature differences across vast regions of sky, those spots must have been in contact at early times. COBE leaders John Mather and George Smoot won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work.

But there is so much more that scientists can do with the CMB than confirm the Big Bang. “From the anisotropies, the hot and cold spots, we get the initial conditions — how bumpy was the early universe and also what is its composition,” says Mather.

The next CMB satellite was designed to improve upon these anisotropy measurements, mapping them at finer angular resolutions. COBE could map hot and cold spots of about 7° on the sky, while the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), launched in 2001 and operated until 2010, could zoom in to a resolution of better than 0.5°. Planck, the CMB satellite that operated from 2009 to 2013, zoomed in even further, to 0.16°.

All of these missions mapped temperatures to the order of 0.00001 to 0.000001 K. To minimize measurement errors related to such small signals, the spacecrafts’ detectors pointed toward two spots on the sky at the same time and measured the temperature difference between them. The satellites swept the entire sky in this fashion, and software generated a map of all those tiny differences. That map holds a treasure-trove of cosmic secrets.

The CMB represents the moment at which the universe became “transparent.” Immediately after its birth, the universe was hot and dense. As it expanded, it cooled, and its density dropped. Within the young universe, photons couldn’t travel very far — a few inches — before colliding with a nearby particle. As the matter in the universe transitioned from plasma (left) to atomic hydrogen (right) 380,000 years after the Big Bang, photons could travel much farther — the width of the universe — without necessarily experiencing a collision. This moment, also called the surface of last scattering, is encoded in the CMB we see today.

Unlocking the early universe
To reveal those secrets, cosmologists study the pattern of hot and cold spots frozen into the CMB and decompose those spots into their constituent sizes. While most of the hot and cold spots are about 1° on the sky, they are overlaid on fluctuations with larger sizes.

“Imagine looking at a smooth pond of water that we might drop pebbles into,” says Dunkley. “If you drop a whole bunch of pebbles in, the ripples will sort of combine together, and you see a whole pattern of ripples across the water. We think of this pattern of slightly different temperatures of this light on the sky a little bit like the pond after it’s covered in ripples.”

The size breakdown of the CMB’s temperature spots, or fluctuations, is like a cosmic Rosetta Stone. The strength of the fluctuations’ signals at different scales is associated with the universe’s age, its ingredients, its expansion rate, and when the first stars lit up the cosmos. By comparing computer models to the signal strengths (which astronomers obtained from analyzing WMAP and Planck data), researchers can piece together what the early universe looked like and how it has evolved.

Thanks to these three cosmic probes, we know the universe began in a Big Bang, and around 380,000 years later, electrons and protons combined, letting light roam free. We know our cosmos is 13.8 billion years old and how fast it is expanding. We know that 31 percent of the universe is matter, but only 5 percent is made of ordinary matter like you and me, while 26 percent is invisible dark matter. Much more of the cosmos is composed of a mysterious, repulsive dark energy — 69 percent.

And perhaps most importantly, astronomers now have a way to find out pieces of information not literally encoded in the CMB itself. That’s because the CMB maps and their statistics have led to the so-called standard model of cosmology.

“We now have a really simple model that describes basically all of our observations,” says Dunkley. “We can track from the very first moments of time all the way through today and make predictions about how large-scale structure evolved. And it has remarkable success. That’s the big thing these satellite missions have given the community.”

Mirror Universe


Our Universe May Be a Giant Hologram

Physicist Brian Greene explains how properties at the black hole’s surface—its event horizon—suggest the unsettling theory that our world is a mere representation of another universe, a shadow of the realm where real events take place.

Brian Greene


Two monster black holes may lie within the double bright area at the center of galaxy NGC 6240. NASA

If, when I was growing up, my room had been adorned with only a single mirror, my childhood daydreams might have been very different. But it had two. And each morning when I opened the closet to get my clothes, the one built into its door aligned with the one on the wall, creating a seemingly endless series of reflections of anything situated between them. It was mesmerizing. All the reflections seemed to move in unison—but that, I knew, was a mere limitation of human perception; at a young age I had learned of light’s finite speed. So in my mind’s eye, I would watch the light’s round-trip journeys. The bob of my head, the sweep of my arm silently echoed between the mirrors, each reflected image nudging the next. Sometimes I would imagine an irreverent me way down the line who refused to fall into place, disrupting the steady progression and creating a new reality that informed the ones that followed. During lulls at school, I would sometimes think about the light I had shed that morning, still endlessly bouncing between the mirrors, and I would join one of my reflected selves, entering an imaginary parallel world constructed of light and driven by fantasy.

To be sure, reflected images don’t have minds of their own. But these youthful flights of fancy, with their imagined parallel realities, resonate with an increasingly prominent theme in modern science—the possibility of worlds lying beyond the one we know.

There was a time when the word universe meant “all there is.” Everything. The whole shebang. The notion of more than one universe, more than one everything, would seemingly be a contradiction in terms. Yet a range of theoretical developments has gradually qualified the interpretation of universe. The word’s meaning now depends on context. Sometimes universe still connotes absolutely everything. Sometimes it refers only to those parts of everything that someone such as you or I could, in principle, have access to. Sometimes it’s applied to separate realms, ones that are partly or fully, temporarily or permanently, inaccessible to us; in this sense, the word relegates our universe 
to membership in a large, perhaps infinitely large, collection.

With its hegemony diminished, universe has given way to other terms that capture the wider canvas on which the totality of reality may be painted. Parallel worlds or parallel universes or multiple universes or alternate universes or the metaverse, megaverse, or multiverse—they’re all synonymous, and they’re all among the words used to embrace not just our universe but a spectrum of others that may be out there.

The strangest version of all parallel universe proposals is one that emerged gradually over 30 years of theoretical studies on the quantum properties of black holes. The work culminated in the last decade, and it suggests, remarkably, that all we experience is nothing but a holographic projection of processes taking place on some distant surface that surrounds us. You can pinch yourself, and what you feel will be real, but it mirrors a parallel process taking place in a different, distant reality.

Plato likened our view of the world to that of an ancient forebear watching shadows meander across a dimly lit cave wall. He imagined our perceptions to be but a faint inkling of a far richer reality that flickers beyond reach. Two millennia later, Plato’s cave may be more than a metaphor. To turn his suggestion on its head, reality—not its mere shadow—may take place on a distant boundary surface, while everything we witness in the three common spatial dimensions is a projection of that faraway unfolding. Reality, that is, may be akin to a hologram. Or, really, a holographic movie.

The journey to this peculiar possibility combines developments deep and far-flung—insights from general relativity; from research on black holes; from thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and, most recently, string theory. The thread linking these diverse areas is the nature of information in a quantum universe.

Physicists Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking established that, for a black hole, the information storage capacity is determined not by the volume of its interior but by the area of its surface. But when the math says that a black hole’s store of information is measured by its surface area, does that merely reflect a numerical accounting, or does it mean that the black hole’s surface is where the information is actually stored? It’s a deep issue and has been pursued for decades by some of the most renowned physicists. The answer depends on whether you view the black hole from the outside or from the inside—and from the outside, there’s good reason to believe that information is indeed stored at the event horizon. This doesn’t merely highlight a peculiar feature of black holes. Black holes don’t just tell us about how black holes store information. 
Black holes inform us about information storage 
in any context.

Think of any region of space, such as the room in which you’re reading. Imagine that whatever happens in the region amounts to information processing—information regarding how things are right now is transformed by the laws of physics into information regarding how they will be in a second or a minute or an hour. Since the physical processes we witness, as well as those by which we’re governed, seemingly take place within the region, it’s natural to expect that the information those processes carry is also found within the region. But for black holes, we’ve found that the link between information and surface area goes beyond mere numerical accounting; there’s a concrete sense in which information is stored on their surfaces. Physicists Leonard Susskind and Gerard ’t Hooft stressed that the lesson should be general: Since the information required to describe physical phenomena within any given region of space can be fully encoded by data on a surface that surrounds the region, then there’s reason to think that the surface is where the fundamental physical processes actually happen. Our familiar three-dimensional reality, these bold thinkers suggest, would then be likened to a holographic projection of those distant two-dimensional physical processes.

If this line of reasoning is correct, then there are physical processes taking place on some distant surface that, much as a puppeteer pulls strings, are fully linked to the processes taking place in my fingers, arms, and brain as I type these words at my desk. Our experiences here and that distant reality there would form the most interlocked of parallel worlds. Phenomena in the two—I’ll call them Holographic Parallel Universes—would be so fully joined that their respective evolutions would be as connected as me and my shadow.

 Excerpted from The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene. Copyright © 2011 by Brian Greene. Reprinted with permission by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

 See the related DISCOVER feature, “The Strange Physicsand SightsInside Black Holes.”

My Related Posts

Shape of the Universe

Mind, Consciousness and Quantum Entanglement

Myth of Invariance: Sound, Music, and Recurrent Events and Structures

On Anticipation: Going Beyond Forecasts and Scenarios

Consciousness of Cosmos: A Fractal, Recursive, Holographic Universe

Geometry of Consciousness

The Great Chain of Being

Maha Vakyas: Great Aphorisms in Vedanta

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

On Synchronicity

Color Science of Gem Stones

Key Sources of Research

CPT-Symmetric Universe

Latham Boyle,1 Kieran Finn,1,2 and Neil Turok1
1Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 2Y5
2School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom

PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 121, 251301 (2018)

Why some physicists really think there’s a ‘mirror universe’ hiding in space-time

By Rafi Letzter – Staff Writer June 22, 2020

Cosmology of the Mirror Universe

Paolo Ciarcelluti

April 2003 PhD Thesis

Mirror dark matter:
Cosmology, galaxy structure and direct detection

R. Foot

ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale, School of Physics, University of Melbourne,
Victoria 3010 Australia


Mirror dark matter cosmology and structure formation

Roux, Jean-Samuel

PhD Thesis McGill Univ

White holes: Do black holes have mirror images? 

These black hole opposites would spew energy, be impossible to enter, and might even answer some of the universe’s fundamental questions.By Bill Andrews  |  Published: Friday, June 28, 2019

A cosmic hall of mirrors

Jean-Pierre Luminet
Laboratoire Univers et Théories (LUTH) – CNRS UMR Observatoire de Paris, 92195 Meudon (France)

The fractal universe

SEPTEMBER 12, 2018

Love the Reflections in the Cosmic Mirror

The Shape of the Universe: Ten Possibilities

Is the universe a dodecahedron?


Planck and the cosmic microwave background

The Atacama Cosmology Telescope ACT

Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe WMAP

Cosmic Topology : Twenty Years After

Jean-Pierre Luminet,

Laboratoire Univers et Th ́eories Observatoire de Paris-CNRS-Universit ́e Paris Diderot (France) email :

October 15, 2013

Cosmic microwave background anisotropies in multi-connected flat spaces

Alain Riazuelo∗
Service de Physique Th ́eorique, CEA/DSM/SPhT, Unit ́e de recherche associ ́ee au CNRS, CEA/Saclay F–91191 Gif-sur-Yvette c ́edex, France

Jeffrey Weeks†
15 Farmer St., Canton NY 13617-1120, USA

Jean-Philippe Uzan‡
Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, GRεCO, FRE 2435-CNRS, 98bis boulevard Arago, 75014 Paris, France Laboratoire de Physique Th ́eorique, CNRS-UMR 8627,
Universit ́e Paris Sud, Bˆatiment 210, F–91405 Orsay c ́edex, France

Roland Lehoucq§
CE-Saclay, DSM/DAPNIA/Service d’Astrophysique, F–91191 Gif-sur-Yvette c ́edex, France, Laboratoire Univers et Th ́eories, CNRS-UMR 8102,
Observatoire de Paris, F–92195 Meudon c ́edex, France

Jean-Pierre Luminet¶
Laboratoire Univers et Th ́eories, CNRS-UMR 8102, Observatoire de Paris, F–92195 Meudon c ́edex, France (Dated: 13 November 2003)


The Shape of Space after WMAP data

Jean-Pierre Luminet
Laboratoire Univers et Th ́eories, CNRS-UMR 8102, Observatoire de Paris, F–92195 Meudon c ́edex, France.


Click to access a02v361b.pdf

Dodecahedral space topology as an explanation for weak wide-angle temperature correlations in the cosmic microwave background

Geometry and Topology in Relativistic Cosmology

Jean-Pierre Luminet

Laboratoire Univers et Théories, CNRS-UMR 8102, Observatoire de Paris, F-92195 Meudon cedex, France


The Spectral Action and Cosmic Topology

Matilde Marcolli

MAT1314HS Winter 2019, University of Toronto T 12-2 and W 12 BA6180

Click to access IntroNCGToronto10.pdf

Cosmic Topology

M. Lachieze-Rey (1), J.P.Luminet


Cosmic crystallography

R. Lehoucq1, M. Lachi`eze–Rey1,2 and J.P. Luminet3

  1. 1  CE-Saclay, DSM/DAPNIA/Service d’Astrophysique, F-91191 Gif sur Yvette cedex, France
  2. 2  CE-Saclay, DSM/DAPNIA/Service d’Astrophysique, CNRS–URA 2052, F-91191 Gif sur Yvette cedex, France
  3. 3  D ́epartement d’Astrophysique Relativiste et de Cosmologie, CNRS–UPR 176, Observatoire de Paris–Meudon, France

september 1995

The Status of Cosmic Topology after Planck Data 

Jean-Pierre Luminet 1,2

Received: 19 November 2015; Accepted: 7 January 2016; Published: 15 January 2016 Academic Editors: Stephon Alexander, Jean-Michel Alimi, Elias C. Vagenas and Lorenzo Iorio

Cosmic Topology: A Brief Overview

M. J. Rebouc ̧as

Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas F ́ısicas, Departamento de Relatividade e Part ́ıculas Rua Dr. Xavier Sigaud, 150 , 22290-180 Rio de Janeiro – RJ, Brazil

and G. I. Gomero

The shape of space between WMAP and planck


Jean-Pierre Luminet

The Shape of Space from Einstein to WMAP data

AIP Conference Proceedings 841, 115 (2006);

Jean‐Pierre Luminet

Planck 2013 results. XXVI. Background geometry and topology of the Universe

The Shape and Topology of the Universe

Jean-Pierre Luminet


Signature of topology of the Universe

Vipin Kumar Sharma

University of Lucknow


Planck 2015 results
XVIII. Background geometry and topology of the Universe

How the Universe Got its Spots

Janna Levin1, Evan Scannapieco1, Giancarlo de Gasperis1, Joseph Silk1 and John D. Barrow2 1Center for Particle Astrophysics, UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-7304
2Astronomy Centre, University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QJ, U.K.


The Conformal Singularity as a Cosmological Mirror: Classical Theory

DOI: 10.1080/21672857.2013.11519718

Michael Ibison

Early Universe cosmology in the light of the mirror dark matter interpretation of the DAMA/Libra signal

Paolo Ciarcellutia Robert Footb

Physics Letters B
Volume 679, Issue 3, 24 August 2009, Pages 278-281

Making Sense of the Big Bang: Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe


Planck 2018 results. I. Overview and the cosmological legacy of Planck

24. Cosmological Parameters

What Shape Is the Universe? A New Study Suggests We’ve Got It All Wrong

Planck evidence for a closed Universe and a possible crisis for cosmology

Eleonora Di Valentino1, Alessandro Melchiorri  2* and Joseph Silk

Click to access DiValentino2020NatureAst4.196.pdf

A new look at the universe’s oldest light

The Atacama Cosmology Telescope: a measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background power spectra at 98 and 150 GHz

Steve K. Choi1,2,3, Matthew Hasselfield4,5,6, Shuay-Pwu Patty Ho3, Brian Koopman7, Marius Lungu3,8, Maximilian H. Abitbol9, Graeme E. Addison10, Peter A. R. Ade11, Simone Aiola4,3, David Alonso9

Mapping the Universe

Mark Altaweel | February 18, 2020 | Spatial Analysis

Planck and the cosmic microwave background

Cosmological crisis: We don’t know if the universe is round or flat

What shape is the universe?

As far as cosmologists can tell, space is almost perfectly flat. But what does this mean?

By Cody Cottier  |  Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Is the Universe Curved? Not So Fast

By Paul Sutter December 02, 2019

Planck reveals an almost perfect Universe

2.4. The Cosmic Microwave Background

Decoding the cosmic microwave background

The Big Bang left behind a unique signature on the sky. Probes such as COBE, WMAP, and Planck taught us how to read it.

By Liz Kruesi  |  Published: Friday, July 27, 2018

The Universe Might Be a Giant Loop

By Rafi Letzter – Staff Writer November 04, 2019

Is the universe a dodecahedron?

08 Oct 2003 Isabelle Dumé

Geometry of the Universe :

Cosmological Constraints on Mirror Matter Parameters 

Paolo Ciarcelluti1 and Quentin Wallemacq


What It Means to Live in a Holographic Universe


Our Universe May Be a Giant Hologram

Our universe has antimatter partner on the other side of the Big Bang, say physicists

03 Jan 2019

A cosmic hall of mirrors

26 Sep 2005

Mystery of the Cosmic Mirror

What if the Universe has no end?

Mirror World, E(6) Unification and Cosmology

C.R. Das 1 ∗, L.V. Laperashvili 2 †,
1 Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, India

2 The Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, Moscow, Russia

Click to access mirror_world_e6_unification_and_cosmology.pdf

We’ve seen signs of a mirror-image universe that is touching our own

Mirror Image Theory Suggests Existence of an Antimatter Universe

Did time flow in two directions from the big bang, making two futures?

Read more:

The Haunting World of the Mirrorverse

Three scientific mysteries which suggest a parallel world

New search for mirror neutron regeneration

L.J. BroussardK.M. BaileyW.B. BaileyJ.L. BarrowK. BerryA. BloseC. CrawfordL. Debeer-SchmittM. FrostA. Galindo-UribarriF.X. GallmeierC.E. GilbertL. HeilbronnE.B. IversonA. JohnstonY. KamyshkovP. LewizI. NovikovS.I. PenttiläS. VavraA.R. Young

17 Dec 2019

New Search for Mirror Neutrons at HFIR

  • October 2017

Leah Broussard
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Joshua Lawrence Barrow
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

B. Chance

Christopher Crawford
University of Kentucky

Radiation as Self-Action via a Cosmological Mirror

Michael Ibison

09 Nov 2015

Astronomical Review 
Volume 7, 2012 – Issue 3

Consciousness And Parallel Universes: Does A Connection Exist?

Niloy Chattaraj

September 19, 2020

The Holographic Universe Explained

A Thin Sheet of Reality: The Universe as a Hologram

The Multiverse Hypothesis Explained by Max Tegmark