Of Men, Women, and Narrative

Not to be cryptic, but perhaps the answer you seek cannot be found from the wisest man because the answer is just beyond what men can see. It is also just beyond what women can see, but then it is a different answer. What men seek is the special knowledge that women possess and women seek the special knowledge that men possess.

In the early days of developing the Dramatica theory of narrative, hidden in the dynamics that drive story, we discovered a difference between the way men and women think – like the difference between Windows and Mac operating systems. Each gets the same jobs done, each is better suited to some things than the other, and not suited to other things as well. Programs designed for one will not run in native mode on the other, and must be translated through running a “virtual” version of the other OS as an environment within the native OS.

In fact, of the eight essential dynamic questions, the one currently called Problem Solving Method (Linear or Holistic) was originally called Mental Sex (Male or Female) and applied to the Main Characters mental orientation. It was this way for many years until confusion among writers who failed to read our explanations led Write Brothers to change the name (without my input) in order to make it more “accessible” to writers so the software would appear easier to use. In the end, I am not sure it helped or hurt, but it did obfuscate and essential aspect of the psychology of a story mind, be it an individual or a group.

Essentially, we have eight dimensions open to us: Mass, Energy, Space, Time when observing externally, and Knowledge, Thought, Ability, Desire when observing ourselves. The four external and four internal dimensions relate to one another the same way, relativistically, as in E=MC2. In fact, we call the name of the science of the psychology behind the Dramatica model, Mental Relativity.

As it turns out, though we all have the same dimensions, the order in which we explore them differs between males and females.

If life was static, and if our minds were static, this would have no affect – we would each eventually view all eight and determine the meaning of any given situation. But, the observer changes the observation, and therefore by the time we get to the last of the eight, it is no longer the situation internally as it was when we began our exploration. We cannot hold our minds constant while we explore them. So, since men and women are forced by the biology of the brain itself to take different paths through this exploration, the two sexes always see the first part of the exploration more accurately (clearly) than the end, but that first part is comprised of different dimensions between the sexes.

It amounts to about 3/4 of a quad that we can see to some degree of direct clarity and the final 1/4 of the quad is almost fully “calculated” from the other three items as hardly any of it can be seen for what it originally was when you started.

Therefore, a man can only lead another man 3/4 of the way to wisdom and then tell him what his experience have “calculated” that last leg might be. And for women, it is the same. And, alas, a man cannot tell a woman what he sees directly, because she is incapable of seeing it directly, and vice versa. So, as they say in a famous movie, “No one can tell you what the Matrix is – you have to see it for yourself.”

And this is why men and women take their journeys of discovery, both external and internal, to see the 3/4 they can directly observe is so many contexts that they can better approximate the 1/4 they cannot directly see. And, if you gain enough experience and truly achieve “enlightenment,” then you will have sufficient information to suddenly “grok” the truth of that final 1/4 all at once in an epiphany that you then find impossible to communicate to anyone else.

So, enlightenment is what one truly seeks for oneself, but “wisdom” is to know you cannot share enlightenment but merely help others find the path to their own.

There is much more to this part of the theory – the biological brain differences that create this, how it led to cultures that reflect male thinking, how there are four levels of the mind and Mental Sex is the only one cast in biology and not available to the other half of the population.

In the end, there are two alien species living on the planet, each in possession of the secret the other seeks, but that they do not know they have and could not communicate if they did.

Melanie Anne Phillips