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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Marco Bernini

Bernini, M. (2018). 'Narrative and Cognitive Modeling: Insights From Beckett Exploring Mind's Complexity'. In Narrating Complexity. Walsh, R. & Stepney, S. Cham: Springer. 233-251.

Author(s) from Durham


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.