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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Thursday, April 6, 2017


I gave one definition of the word "potentiality" in Part One, but I was unaware when I gave the term a Jungian-Fryean connotation that it also had jargonistic applications in the world of quantum mechanics.  Not being heavily into quantum mechanics, I hadn't encountered the datum stated in the Wikipedia article: that David Bohm and Basil Hiley defined "quantum potential/ potentiality" as "an information potential which acts upon a quantum particle." I did not have this in mind when I invoked the metaphor of the quantum particle in the essay THE QUANTUM THEORY OF DYNAMICITY, but the Bohm-Hiley statement provides a strong parallel to one of my long-stated statements about the relationship of literary archetypes to the information that they can be made to convey, as referenced in JUNG LOVE, FIRST LOVE. 

When I wrote QUANTUM THEORY, I was simply seeking to provide symmetry. I had established that I regarded mythicity as a discourse within the combinatory mode, and it eventually occurred to me that dynamicity could equally be defined as a discourse, but one within the corresponding mode of the dynamic mode. In THEORY I cited various ways in which I perceived "power" as taking different discursive forms within various works within the same genres: comparing, for instance, the "poor discourse" of the Shooter-Zeck SECRET WARS to the "good discourse" of the Lee-Kirby FANTASTIC FOUR. In essence, I represented the two modes principally with reference to Jung's two "irrational functions" when I stated:

Mythicity= the discourse of symbolic constructions
Dynamicity= the discourse of quantum constructions.

I did not draw any parallels in THEORY between the symbolizing nature of the "intuition function," nor to the sensory nature of the "sensation function." I used the term "quantum constructions" simply because in physics the word "quantum" is defined as "is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction." Since I was speaking of both mythicity and dynamicity as relationships between literary phenomena, I coined the term "quantum constructions" as short-hand for the ways in which different entities interact with one another on the plane of dynamicity, be it through direct violence, like that of a superhero, or through indirect influence, as per my example of Ibsen's HEDDA GABLER.

However, in the ensuing months I continued meditating on the subject of the four potentialites that I extrapolated from Jung's four functions. Many writers (not least Jung) had opined that the rational function of thinking developed out of the irrational function of intuition, but not as much had been written about a corresponding relationship between the rational function of feeling and the irrational function of sensation. Indeed, my initial statement of the potentialities from FOUR BY FOUR might have suggested too much distinction between the four:

The KINETIC is a potentiality that describes the relationships of sensations.
The DRAMATIC is a potentiality that describes the relationships of discrete personalities.
The DIDACTIC (formerly "thematic") is a potentiality that describes the relationships of abstract ideas.
The MYTHOPOEIC is a potentiality that describes the relationships of symbols.

Slowly the logical symmetry settled in. If "symbolic constructions" are at the root of "ideational constructions," then there must be a parallel between the other two functions. What I initially called "quantum constructions" originally implied simply the perceiving subject's experience of his own body and other bodies as giving the subject either pleasant or unpleasant sensations. "Discrete personalities" was a reference was based in my understanding of Jung's interpretation of feeling as a more rational meditation as to WHY one's own body or other bodies became a source of a variety of sensations, including those situations in which the pleasant and unpleasant might intertwine. At the time I choose not to delve into PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES to review Jung's position, given that my extrapolation of the potentialities is not strictly Jungian anyway.

My solution to the problem of philosophical symmetry, then, is to propose that all four of the potentialities can be viewed as means by which the perceiving subject-- whether a real person or a literary construct-- sorts out different *QUANTA* of information that the subject encounters in the world. But the solution comes with another problem: how are these quanta at once alike and yet different?

One cornerstone of my theory is the rethinking of Aristotle's "pity and terror" into what I consider a more pleasing terminology: that of "sympathetic affects" and "antipathetic affects," as explored in this 2013 essay.  Another Wikipedia essay states that the term "affect" has in psychology assorted connotations.

Many theorists (e.g., Lazarus, 1982) consider affect to be post-cognitive: elicited only after a certain amount of cognitive processing of information has been accomplished. In this view, such affective reactions as liking, disliking, evaluation, or the experience of pleasure or displeasure each result from a different prior cognitive process that makes a variety of content discriminations and identifies features, examines them to find value, and weighs them according to their contributions (Brewin, 1989). Some scholars (e.g., Lerner and Keltner 2000) argue that affect can be both pre- and post-cognitive: initial emotional responses produce thoughts, which produce affect. In a further iteration, some scholars argue that affect is necessary for enabling more rational modes of cognition (e.g., Damasio 1994).

Plainly the function of sensation as Jung and I conceive it is entirely "pre-cognitive," while that of feeling is "post-cognitive." It doesn't help me at all to use 'affect" in both senses, so from now on I will take the first-stated position: "affects" are *quanta* that belong to the post-cognitive function of feeling. In contrast, the function of sensation, being non-judgmental, is concerned rather with dynamicity in its purest state, as stimuli that either enhance or detract from the subject's life-quality. This brings me back to Kant's concept of dynamicity as "might" or "strength," and thus I reconfigure the earlier statement of the potentialities thusly:

The KINETIC is a potentiality that describes the relationships of strength-quanta.
The DRAMATIC is a potentiality that describes the relationships of affect-quanta.
The DIDACTIC (formerly "thematic") is a potentiality that describes the relationships of idea-quanta.
The MYTHOPOEIC is a potentiality that describes the relationships of symbol-quanta.

Within a fictional context, as stated before, all of these quanta are, unlike real energy-quanta, only real insofar as readers/audiences experience them as incarnations of the author's *WILL,* as stated in SEVEN WAYS FROM SCHOPENHAUER.  This "unified field theory" of the four potentialities will probably not inspire in critics the degree of enthusiasm quantum physicists experience as they cover a similar unification between the "four physical forces," but such a theory does make it somewhat easier to talk about the different forms of "will" which creators choose to emphasize.

As a closing note, I return to this statement from the first GOOD WILL QUANTUMS:

...I perceive a general principle: that density is the means by which the reader subconsciously rates one creator above another: because the reader believes that Creator A can better describe a set of relationships so "densely" that it takes on the quality of "lived experience."

But although "density/complexity" is the primary criterion of fictional excellence in any potentiality, there is a role for Raymond Durgnat's "aesthetic of simplicity." Simplicity is the mode or modes through whcih an author seeks to communicate complexity in a pleasing manner, so that the reader absorbs the complexity without the sense of having it forced down his throat. More on this point later.

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