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Narrative and cognitive modeling : insights from Beckett exploring mind's complexity.

Bernini, M. (2018) 'Narrative and cognitive modeling : insights from Beckett exploring mind's complexity.', in Narrating complexity. Cham: Springer, pp. 233-251.


Complex systems exacerbate a common problem for scientific enquiry: the difficulty of creating models able to discriminate fundamental elements or patterns from random behaviours or corollary components in the event or process at issue. This chapter argues that a similar tension between order and randomness has been a chief modelling problem of Samuel Beckett’s narratives, tied to his interest in a specific kind of complex system (the mind) and its emergent properties (consciousness and the narrative sense of self). Bulding on narratology, complex system frameworks, cognitive theories of emergence and of scientific modelling, this chapter introduces the idea of “fictional cognitive modelling”. Through this concept, the chapter analyses Beckett’s treatment of narrative devices as formal tools for the creation of “exploratory models” able to atomise the emerging unity of conscious experience and of a narrative sense of self into its core components (defined as the “narrative dynamic core”). It concludes by suggesting that Beckett’s narrative method shows how literature can occupy a proper position in the investigation and exploration of complex systems.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:© The Author(s) 2018 Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.
Date accepted:15 November 2016
Date deposited:24 October 2017
Date of first online publication:01 November 2018
Date first made open access:No date available

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