rate. In this icw, the arts represent tlie liighest. most eoniplexrnand reflexixe lecl of a eontinuallv evolving hicrarchs. Evolutionrnthus becomes, for Turner, “the eentral paradigm of allrnknowledge,” one whieh, because of its ability to create unpredictablernnoveltv, “radically and totally refutes determinism.”rnEolution—not combustion, not deterministic Newtonianrnphsics, not quantum mechanics—provides the truest andrnmost efficacious model of human freedom and crcativitv.rnhi “Kalogenetics” and “The Neural L re,” two essays inrnNatural Classicism, and in the more recent Beauty, Turner hasrnpresented a compelling case for the notion that beauty—thatrnoutcast of postmodern aesthetics—is in fact the goal towardrnwhich cen the most apparently chaotic sstems are drawn.rnScientists who stud nature’s mvsteries. Turner points out, usernthe term elegance as a kcv criterion in determining the value ofrna scientific theors.rnTurner’s arguments arc too complex to do them completernjustice in a short essav, but his speculations concerning beauty,rnthe structure and reward system of the human brain, the naturernof artistic forms and genres, and the wav all three interact in therncreation and reception of works of art are so fascinating thatrnthev must be briefly described. Though Turner applies hisrninsights to a wide range of human experience, I will limit myrndiscussion to literature.rnThe experience of beautv, Turner suggests, is the reward for,rnamong other things, “the exercise of the peculiar spiritual skillsrndemanded bv the human ritual”; “the encounter with, acceptance,rnand passing-through of the shame of mortal self-awareness”;rn”a sensitivity to the general tendencv or theme of thernuni erse”; and “the exercise of the human eapacitv to continuernand deepen that process into new realms of being.” “Beauty,”rnTurner declares, “is alwavs paradoxical. It is not mere chaos andrnnonlincaritv but the paradoxical coexistence of chaos and order,rnnonlinear discontinuity with linear flow and predictablernrepetition.” Turner cites as examples of this definition of beautyrnsuch diverse phenomena as the Mandelbrot set, “Jacquardrnpaisleys, the feathers of peacocks, the body-paint of tattoo designsrnof Maoris or Melanesians, the complexitv of a great wine,rnthe curlicues of Hiroshige seafoam or Haida ornamentation orrnseahorses or Mcizart melodies.” Echoing Keats’ famous formulation.rnTurner states, “If truth is conformit to fact, and fact isrnthe product of a feedback process that we intuitively perceive asrnbcaut”, then bcautv is the way we perceive and intuit truth.”rnTruth and bcautv: formidable, unfashionable words. Tornground these abstractions, let us turn for a moment to what isrnperhaps the oldest human art form—storytelling—and its mostrnancient literary embodiment, epic poetry, a form Turner listsrnamong what he calls the natural classical genres. Grounded inrnoral traditions and appearing in a variety of human cultures,rnepic is a grand narrative, peopled by gods and heroes, which fixesrnin memorable form the stories and myths a people tell themselvesrnto explain the world. In the branchings of its plot, thernepic maps out time; in the relationship of its subplots and detailsrnto its larger narrative movements, it allows that mixture ofrnlinear and nonlinear, orderly and chaotic, elements necessaryrnfor the creation and perception of beauty. In addition, epic poemsrnarc recited aloud, not read in solitude, and are thereforernperformative acts. Epic poetry is generally composed in somerntype of meter, in part to make it more memorable. Turner citesrnstudies of Homeric and Yugoslavian epic that demonstrate thatrn”the formulaic structure of oral epic poetry is precisely designedrnto fit the limitations and capacities of human memory storage.”rnAs in Homer, an epic often includes primitive forms of theology,rnhistory, and philosophy, but all are subordinated to story;rnto plot. Modern theories of fiction tend to denigrate plot, butrnrecent studies in psychology suggest that narrative is more thanrnsimply a pleasant way to pass the time, an entertainment in thernmost superficial sense: it is a universal human phenomenon essentialrnto the creation of human identity, as important to an individualrnas to a culture. Storytelling is an essential element ofrnour training in ethics, psychology, and interpersonal relations.rnThat is why the epic poetry of I lomer, for instance, was consideredrnthe foundation of Greek society, the cornerstone of everyrncitizen’s moral and intellectual training, and why epic poetry isrnnearly universal throughout the world. If we do not exercisernthis inbuilt narrative capacity, we cannot act as moral agents;rnbut like the Pierrots and clowns of absurdist literature, we arcrncondemned to live in a world without order, coherence, orrnmeaning. Postmodern art, by abandoning narrative, has left itrnto the popular arts to give us pictures of ourselves and ourrnworld. ()ne might even go further and regard the modernist attemptrnto abandon narrative as an assault on our ability to formrna coherent self; and in fact much poststructuralist theory deconstructsrnhumanistic conceptions of personal identity. Thernchief result of the abandonment of narrative—as with the systematicrndestruction of all the natural classical genres—has beenrnto leave us in doubt as to who and what we arc; to make usrndoubt the existence of human nature, morality, or objectiverntruth.rnOf course, one possibilitv is that such theorists are right andrnthere is no such thing as human nature, moralitv’, or objectiverntruth—though the way most of us conduct our lives wouldrnseem evidence to the contrary. Indeed, part of our culturalrnschizophrenia is manifested in the way we separate art from thernpractical conduct of our lives. Modern social sciences havernalso unwittingly contributed to our era’s moral and socialrnrelativism. Turner points out that one unfortunate result of thernstudy of other cultures has been to foster the notion that allrnvalues are relative; that all definitions of truth, art, and beautyrnare relative and culture-bound.rnAnd here is precisely where Turner’s thought becomes mostrndaring. After surveying an impressive range of scientificrndisciplines. Turner proposes the idea that there reallv is such arnthing as human nature, and he identifies a number of humanrnactivities whieh appear in cultures throughout the world. InrnChapter Four of Beauty, he lists 17 “neurocharms”—a wordrnidentifying these panhuman capabilities—and shows howrnobsolescent scientific ideas have impeded our recognition ofrntheir universal nature and resulted in much confused thinking.rnIn Chapter Fi e, he states:rnModernist theoreticians attempted to separate languagernand its attendant classification systems from its shamefulrnncurobiological basis, so that the moral and aestheticrnjudgmental categories they contained would be culturall’rnrclatix’c and so defused of normative force. They thusrnseized on what came to known as the Sapir-W’horfrnhypothesis, which was an interesting theorv, of limitedrnvalidity, to the effect that differences between languagesrnreflected fundamental variations in cultural worldview.rnFurther anthropological-linguistic research (for instance,rnby the anthropologist Donald Brown) has shown thatrnanything that can be said or thought in one language canrnbe said or thought in another, though some paraphrasernlUNE 1995/23rnrnrn