The Holistic Approach to Working Through Conflict
Justifying as a means of solving problems.
Our minds take one of two paths when faced with an inequity: the way of problem-solving or the path of justification. Problem-solving seeks to resolve the inequity. Justification aims to hide the inequity from the mind. The trick with the Holistic mind's approach to inequity is that its version of problem-solving is actually just another form of justification.
The Steadfast Resolve Story
A complete and functioning narrative consists of several vital dynamics. One of those dynamics, the Main Character Resolve, sets the nature of the story itself. A Changed Main Character Resolve, one where the Main Character adopts an entirely new point-of-view, signifies a Dilemma story.
The Steadfast Main Character Resolve story, one where the Main Character retains their world perspective, differs from the Changed Resolve in that the focus lies in the Work to be done, not the Dilemma. In fact, in these stories, a Dilemma never truly exists—the emphasis instead lies in maintaining that justification to carry on despite difficulties.
A No-Win Situation for the Holistic
With the shift away from outcome incurred by a Dilemma, the Holistic narrative rests its meaning on the growth of self throughout the story. What is the process that draws one closer to an outcome?
Here we see the Holistic's preference for justification as a method for conflict resolution. As conflict increases, the Steadfast Resolve must continually build up reasons, or justifications, for their approach.
The Linear mind problem-solves by problem-solving and justifies by justifying. The Holistic mind problem-solves by justifying and justifies by justifying.
The Holistic mind) never wins in the eyes of a Linear thinker—they're always justifying, always making "excuses" for their behavior.
Moving Away from the Linear Approach
The Linear approach to Steadfastness advocates a point of focus or a direction to take. Steadfast stories with a Main Character Growth of Stop draw attention to that point of focus. Those with a Main Character Growth of Start highlight the direction the work takes within the story.
A Linear-minded approach to the Premise of Juno would read:
PremiseKeep having faith and you can ensure a bright future for a newborn.
Do this, and you get that.
Clear and simple.
As the Holistic is always concerned with self first, and that relationship between self and the outside world, their process of Steadfastness involves something much more complicated than simply flipping a switch.
Distortion and Harmony
With s mental operating sustem enginnered for relationships, the Holistic mind constantly measures subjective with objective, Seeing both as a whole, the Holistic intuits a vibration beyween the two that ranges from Distortion to Harmony.
When aligned, subjective snd objective account for both aspects of observation (internal and external) When distorted, both objective and subjective observations focus on one area to the exclusion of the other (internal over exterbal, or external over internal). The result of the former is a distorted view of the entire picture.
In Dramatica theory, this Distortion appears as a Main Character Growth of Stop: Objective Story Throughline and Main Character Throughline Domains are either both Universe and Physics (external) or Psychology and Mind (internal).
The Domains of the Storymind
Harmony appears as a Main Character Growth of Start: both Domains are either Universe and Psychology (external and internal) or Physics and Mind (external and internal).
Knowing this is important as it sets the relative relationship between time and space in both the objective and subjective points-of-view.
Stop/Good - Present, Yet Distorted
Adjusting the Linear interpretation of a Steadfast Premise to account for this need to measure objective against subjective, the Holistic Premise for Juno now reads:
PremiseHaving limiting beliefs keeps you present, but distorts your openness with others.
As with previous Holistic incarnations of the Premise, the Objective Premise Element, or key Plot Element, moves away from Goal and Consequence to rest its eyes upon the more dynamic Objective Story Issue. In Juno, that Issue is an Element of Openness. The Subjective Premise Element, or key Character Element remains in the Main Character Crucial Element space--in this case, Faith—limiting beliefs that hold you back.
Those limiting beliefs (Juno's skeptical nature) clash with the openness issues surrounding a teenage preganacy and subsequent adoption to create a sense of distortion within the mind of the story. Conversationally speaking, the film illustrates this distorition through comes the snarky and cynical Juno. The fact that this snark fails to pull her (and the story) out of the present moment grants a light-hearted "Good" feeling to the entire narrative.
The same Present, Yet Distorted Premise appears in the Jimmy Stewart classic, Harvey. A Linear thinker would interpret the meaning of that film as:
PremiseKeep ignoring reality and you can change the people around you.
Close, but not quite the essence of the film.
A Holistic interpretation, on the other hand, would see:
PremiseIgnoring the reality around you keeps you present, but distorts your commitments with others.
Again, that element of "keeping present" signals to the Holistic mind a positive direction of growth (a Story Judgment of Good). The distortion makes it known that the journey will be a bit of a struggle.
Start/Good - Harmony while Present
When objective and subjective co-exist, each accounting for either external or internal observations, Harmony settles in. This, combined with the Power of staying in the Present moment affords us a Premise more in-line with a Holistic/Steadfast/Start/Good dynamic.
A Bronx Tale carries this particular set of Dynamics:
PremiseBeing in harmony with curiosity keeps you in the present moment, allowing your respectful nature to deepen relationships.
sounds more like the essence of A Bronx Tale, especially when compared what the Linear mind sees:
PremiseKeep being curious, and you can evolve with the times.
Again, the Linear version is close to the meaning of the film--but the Holistic is even closer. And with Subtxt, we want to get as close as we can to the intension of the work in question.
Consider the Premise for Roma:
PremiseBeing in harmony with your own perceptions keeps you in the present moment, allowing your juggling of predicaments to deepen relationships.
Some dislike this film, suggesting it was a mistake to give Alfonso Cuaron the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. 9 times out of 10, this disgruntled nature is the result of a predominantly Linear mind struggling with the impracticality of the above statement.
How does "being in harmony with reading things" keep you in the present moment? You read things the way you read things, end of discussion. And even so, how does the way I see things possibly help me fix a difficult situation?
It doesn't. One doesn't lead to the other in a typical cause-and-effect manner. Which is why the particular set of conflicts encountered in Roma long for a Holistic mind to counter them. You can't "fix" social and cultural revolution—but you can manage it. And Roma offers up one possible direction to address that kind of crisis.
Stop/Bad - Distortion, and Not Growing
If staying in the present moment signals a positive direction, then "not growing" alerts us to someone stuck, and headed in the wrong direction.
Consider the Holistic Premise for Moulin Rouge!:
PremiseBeing free keeps you from growing, distorting your relationships with being overly possessive
By remaining in that justified and disorganized state, Christian (Ewen McGregor) keeps himself distorted and unavailable to grow beyond his wild and freeing behavior. This distortion clouds his relationships (and the relationships of others) with this drive of being overly possesive.
A Linear mind might try and write the same story with this Premise:
PremiseEveryone suffers the tragic consequences of losing everything when you keep living free.
And now you know why Moulin Rouge! is a Holistic narrative and not a Linear one. Not quite the same impact. Not quite the same meaning.
Moulin Rouge! is unique to this current discussion in that the Story Outcome, or Story Intention, ends in Failure. The mind of story becomes Overwhelmed with notions of Obtaining. We see this play out in the Premise with the Objective Story Element, or key Plot Element, shifting to the Story Consequence of Obtaining, rather than the Objective Story Issue of Responsibility.
The drama, 45 Years aligns itself more closely to the previous examples with a Story Outcome of Success. The Intention of remembering and recognizing the anniversary (an Objective Story Goal of Memory) ends in Success (Story Outcome of Success). Unfortunately, for the Main Character, things turn sour:
PremiseWanting to be wanted keeps you from growing, distorting your relationships with finding evidence to support an idea.
Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) creates more and more distortion in that film as she contends with her husband's illicit affair and a subsequent aversion to her. Finding evidence to support the idea that she isn't wanted only distorts the very relationship she sought to memoralize.
Years later, I can't remember the plot of the film, but I do remember this sense of emotional blockage that infused the entire experience. That is the experience of the Holistic narrative—relationships over plot.
Start/Bad - Harmony without Growing
If the Holistic/Stop/Bad illustrates a failure to grow through distortion, then the Holistic/Start/Bad dynamic illustrates inertia while in the presence of harmony--equally as disturbing for the Holistic mindset.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) allows confusion from every corner to seep into the narrative with its central Premise:
PremiseStaying in harmony with being unpredictable keeps you from growing, allowing confusing situations with others to persist.
What a strange and alien notion, yet one that makes complete emotional sense. The Holistic thrives on being open and receptive. When in a state of inertia (not gorwing), this justified state only confuses the mind with an inability to know which end is up. And whether or not what you're inviting it will increase or decrease that sense of disassociation.
With The Manchurian Candidate, that inertia attracts unpredictability and in turn allows the mind to fall into a state of confusion over who is who and what is what. There is no solution, no goal to be achieved, no stakes to overcome. Just a pure experience of deep emotions and chaos as a mind navigates its place in the world.
Interestingly enough, this is not a popular set of narrative Dynamics to explore. Scanning through Subtxt's collection of hundreds and hundreds of Storyforms, only four fit into this emotional state: The Glass Menagerie, The Manchurian Candidate, Eve's Bayou, and Mrs. Miniver.
Does this make this narrative any less of a story because the central character is not the driving force or that the "stakes" aren't big enough? No. Because a story is an analogy to our mind's approach to inequity and sometimes, that process of inequity resolution is more about the state of mind rather than solving a particular problem.
Breaking Down the Steadfast Holistic
As with previous instances of a Holistic Premise, the Subjective Premise Element references the Main Character Crucial Element, and the Objective Premise Element taps the Objective Story Issue.^[failure]
^[failure]: Except in cases where the Story Outcome ends in Failure and the Story Judgment is Bad, as in the above example with Moulin Rouge! Those stories gravitate towards the Story Consequence, or Overwhelm, of Obtaining.
In stories where the Main Character's Resolve is Steadfast, the Work becomes more critical than the Dilemma. The focus of the narrative lies on the point of attention and the response towards that perception of inequity. In Changed stories, the Main Character Crucial Element refers to either the Problem or Solution shared between the objective and subjective views of the narrative. Steadfast stories look to either the Focus or Direction element shared between these two perspectives.
Holistic stories adjust the dial even further in terms of understanding. To the Holistic, the Focus is a reference to Resistance, the Direction an indication of flow, or Allowance. Placing them alongside their Linear counterparts in the Dramatica model, we begin to appreciate the differences between the two mindsets and the quality of narrative structure present in both:
- Problem (Linear) seen as Inequity (Holistic)
- Solution (Linear) seen as Equity (Holistic)
- Focus (Linear) seen as Resistance (Holistic)
- Direction (Linear) seen as Allowance (Holistic)
Focus and Direction almost walk the line between the two mindsets, not wholly Linear and not entirely Holistic. Recent versions of Dramatica cemented the Linear approach by converting Focus into Symptom and Direction to Response.
Holistics do not deal in Focus, and their responses are rarely a reaction to what they think is a "problem." When it comes to inequities, they appreciate resistance and allowance in relation to that irritant.
Stop stories find the Holistic Storymind appreciating this Resistance through Distortion. Start stories draw Flow through Harmony.
Stories of Resistance
Reduced down to its base elements, the Premise for Juno, a Holistic/Stop/Good story, reads:
PremiseFAITH keeps you present, but distorts your OPENNESS with others.
Faith is the shared Focus/Resistance Element creating Distortion, and Openness is the Objective Story Issue.
Moulin Rouge!, a Holistic/Stop/Bad story, takes a different path:
PremiseFREE keeps you from growing, distorting your relationships with OBTAINING
Both narratives describe an experience of Distortion in the Holistic mind. One builds up resistance by refusing to grow (a Bad Judgment), while the other manages the resistance by staying present (a Good judgment).
Stories of Allowance
Peeling away the layers of storytelling wrapped up in A Bronx Tale reveals these key Elements:
PremiseBeing in harmony with UNENDING keeps you in the present moment, allowing you to address the WORTH you receive from others.
Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie is another instance of Holistic Allowance, but one where that flow reamins static:
PremiseStaying in harmony with SUPPORT keeps you from growing, allowing DELAY with others to persist.
Both narratives focus on Flow or allowance. One allows that flow through staying present (a Good Judgment), the other finds that flow keeping one from growing (a Bad Judgment).
The Power of the Present Moment
This appreciation of the Power of the Prsent moment in the Holistic mind stems from a recognition of the flow of energy through a dramatic quad. The purpose of a Linear approach to problem-solving seeks an Outcome through a spatial understanding of individual components:
The Components of a Linear Sequence
Moving in a "Z-pattern" through the quad, the Linear mind sequences Potential, Resistance, Current, and then Outcome.
The Holistic mind takes the same set of Elements and works its way around the quad as it justifies an inequity. This progression prefers a temporal arrangement over spatial:
The Waves of a Holistic Sequence
Moving from Potential to Resistance to Power to Flow, the Holistic mind spirals in on itself as it maintains that infinite loop of justification.
The purpose of a Linear progression is an Outcome. The "purpose" of a Holistic progression is Power--the power to maintain that flow of justification.
Overlay the Concerns of the Universe onto this quad to find the reason why a Holistic mindset measures staying in the Present, a pwoerful and "Good" approach to justifying an inequity.
The Flow of Holistic Justification
A refusial to grow, or Progress, only keeps one locked in Resistance--a decidedly "Bad" approach to justifying an inequity.
A Complete Understanding
With this final set of narrative arguments, we complete our exploration of the Premise. The "Greed leads to self-destruction" approach is no longer sufficient enough to describe the thematic intent of a story. A Premise needs to combine both objective and subjective concerns together, and it needs to address the Holistic or Linear mind of the narrative itself.
A complete story is a total mind—one that explores conflict from several different points-of-view, and one that approaches the underlying inequity conflict through either problem-solving or justification. With the Holistic approach to the latter now explained, writers of every mindset can now find a Premise that supports and helps foster their unique view of the world.