Abstract Patterns in Stories: From the Intellectual Legacy of David G. Hays

18 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2017

Date Written: October 27, 2017


Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” exhibits nested structures suggesting an underlying computational process. Seeking to understand that process I joined the computational linguistics research group of David G. Hays in 1974, which was investigating a scheme whereby abstract concepts were defined over patterns in stories. Hays examined concepts of alienation; Mary White examined the beliefs of a millenarian community; and Brain Phillips implemented a system that analyzed short stories for the theme of tragedy. I examined Shakespeare’s sonnet 129, “The Expense of Spirit”, but was unable to apply the system to “Kubla Khan”. In 1976 Hays and I imagined a future system capable of ‘reading’ a Shakespeare play in some non-trivial manner. Such a system had not yet materialized, nor is it in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, I have been identifying texts and films that exhibit ring-composition, which is similar to the nesting evident in “Kubla Khan”. Do any story generators produce such stories?

Keywords: narrative, abstraction, cognitive networks, ring composition, narratology

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Abstract Patterns in Stories: From the Intellectual Legacy of David G. Hays (October 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3060605 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3060605

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