Thought: For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a book entitled “Abandoning the Logic” about the fact that while half of what we are is driven by reason, the other equally important half embodies our purpose and meaning. There is as much understanding and as many conclusions to be gained by one as the other, but of different flavors and varieties.
In our Dramatica theory of story we often say, “You can’t become the same as someone else just by being as they are are; you also have to “not be” as they aren’t.” But our mind’s don’t easily focus on the negative space, and so we strive harder and harder to achieve by adding to the mix, never considering that the recipe may not be achievable that way because it has an ingredient that must not be there.
In Dramatica, we see characters who change by “starting” something new – adding a new trait they previously did not express. We also see characters who change by “stopping” something old – shedding an old trait they previously expressed.
This shows up in stories as characters who could solve their problem if only they would just…. Or, characters whose problem would be solved if only they just wouldn’t…. In the first case, the character needs a catalyst to get going. In the second, it needs an inhibitor to hold it back.
This same dynamic is harmonically reflected in the plot with two Dramatica story points called, not surprisingly, “Catalyst” and “Inhibitor.” The first acts like a gas pedal, accelerating the progress of the story forward. The second acts like a brake pedal, slowing the progress of the story down.
We see these dynamics everywhere in life, and yet, because ours is a culture based on observation, definition and reason, we focus on only one half of this dynamic couple – we explore, map, build our understandings and make our decisions on what we see, never considering that half the time our answers can only be found in what lies between the elements of the delineated world.
Have you ever seen that picture of a vase that turns out to be an optical illusion in which the “negative space” carved out on either side of the shape of the vase presents the silhouettes of two men facing each other? So what is the picture really of, the vase or the faces? Naturally, the answer is “both.”
And herein lies the problem. We look outward and see things – situations and activities (external states and processes) – then we look inside and see the in-betweens – attitudes and cogitations (internal states and processes), BUT we seldom look outward for the in-betweens and inward for the elements.
Dramatica broke new ground in seeking to apply logic to our feelings, to map the mind’s processes in a “Table of Story Elements” by casting each process as an object – a building block of the mental/emotional flow – so that mental equations might be written to describe the manner in which each process is called in a particular order to create the DNA code of each individual consideration.
Of course, this is well hidden under the skirt of story structure since our market was writers not psychologists. But it is there. In fact, we codified it aside from the story use and called it Mental Relativity, for it describes the relationships among Knowledge, Thought, Ability and Desire (the four essential “bases” from which all mental processes are built) the same way physics describes the relationships among Mass, Energy, Space and Time.
Knowledge is the Mass of the mind. Thought is the Energy. (This is conceptual of course – describing the ways in which they relate, not intended to equate them in substance).
An example of this relationship can be seen in the following… Mass and Energy can relate in two primary ways. First, Energy can be attached to Mass. We see this in the kinetic energy associated with a billiard ball in motion, for example. But, Mass can also be transmuted into energy, as in thermonuclear explosions.
Similarly, Knowledge can be moved around and assembled into large constructs by the expenditure of Thought. In other words, Thought can be attached to Knowledge to put it in motion. But, Knowledge and Thought can also be transmuted one into the other. But, as with E=MC2, it takes a lot of Thought to create a solid piece of Knowledge and, conversely, a single bit of Knowledge can generate an awful lot of Thought. Hence, the reason we named the psychology behind Dramatica “Mental Relativity.”
But having turned the same definitive techniques we employ in the external world upon our own minds, we have still left one final realm of our existence unexplored – to map out our external world in terms of the in-betweens – to see substance as process and time as an object, to document external processes as feelings and external situations as moods.
Now I realize this sounds pretty far out there. And it is. It it in the last place our logic would look – the last place it has looked. In fact, I’m not entirely convinced that logic can work in that world. It may be outside the realm of the set of real numbers and into the realm of the imaginary ones, such as the square root of -1.
Yet that, in and of itself, does not invalidate its importance. Rather, it elevates the value of seeking to understand (or, perhaps that is the wrong word) to “resonate” with the digital in terms of the analog.
This, I believe, is the last frontier of our efforts to understand ourselves and our world. And, quite frankly, I’d love to put some footprints in it in an area where no one has tread before.
Having spent a career employing the logical method, I’ve yearned to explore the passionate and to document it in a language not yet invented. But, time being what it is, and there being precious little of it, I figured I’d just give y’all the title and the concept for now so it will not be an idea wholly unexpressed. And if I ever do get both the time and the motivation, I’ll tackle the book itself.