Closure, observation and coupling
on narrative and autopoiesis
This chapter outlines three themes that it takes to be central to the conception of narrative fiction as an autopoietic system: closure, observation and coupling. Closure refers to the processes by which a system such as a narrative distinguishes itself, through its own internal operations, from its environment. Observation refers to the emergence and vicissitudes of linguistic function in the artistic text, function being dependent on the proliferating, recursively embedded perspectives at stake in narrative fiction (perspectives of readers, narrators, characters). Coupling refers to the constraints that interacting autopoietic systems impose on one another, and how this process should be understood in relation to narrative—either in terms of interactions between reader and text, or between broader autopoietic systems of perception and communication. These themes are explored with reference to Aristotelian narrative theory, the functionalist semiotics of Jan Mukařovský and the systems theory of Niklas Luhmann.
Lively, A. (2018)., Closure, observation and coupling: on narrative and autopoiesis, in R. Walsh & S. Stepney (eds.), Narrating complexity, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 85-100.
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