Narrative Form and Chaos Theory in Sterne, Proust, Woolf, by Jo Alyson Parker (auth.)

By Jo Alyson Parker (auth.)

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Extra resources for Narrative Form and Chaos Theory in Sterne, Proust, Woolf, and Faulkner

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Crutchfield et al. 2 Periodic orbit and the attractor (the ultimate fate of the system) might reveal itself—had we but world enough and time. In a chaotic system, there may be an actual attracting point (or points, depending on the system). Unlike the stable fixed point upon which the pendulum eventually comes to rest, however, the attracting point in a chaotic system has become unstable. Michael Berry describes the state-space portrait of what he calls “the bouncer” toy (a contraption featuring magnetized swinging balls), which has an unstable attracting point: “[O]ur rotator never comes to rest .

64 Granted, some literary theorists have used scientific terminology imprecisely and made unsupportable claims. But, as Theodore Braun and John McCarthy point out, the “trade-off ” that takes place “between rigor and vigor” is positive overall: “Whoever ventures out from one’s own (disciplinary) language into another brings to that endeavor (and world view) a perspective the ‘native speaker’ lacks. ”65 Literary theorists are not claiming to be scientists; they are instead laying claim to a conceptual trove that enhances literary studies—and enhances science as well.

The geometrical form of a fractal can occur as a natural object—for example, the shape of trees and coastlines. ”55 The strange attractor exists in a fractal dimension because, technically, although it is a one-dimensional object (a line), it traverses but does not fill three-dimensional space. Common to both natural and mathematically deduced fractals is the quality of similarity across scale. In trees, for example, the pattern of the branches repeats on a smaller and smaller scale, and the inlets and promontories of coastlines have their own inlets and promontories.

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