“As being is to becoming, so is truth to belief.” Plato, Timaeus
If we understand that the Hero’s journey (transformational) model in storytelling is actually collective consciousness in motion that is showing us a precisely defined order woven into our psyche, and since the psyche is governed by natural forces that cannot be seen, but are nevertheless real and also universal, maybe the principles of storytelling are not just universal but also connected to the principles that are woven into the universe of the unseen.
In other words, since the Intuitive Screenwriting Wheel is an archetypal model of the psyche and nowadays people are using physics, which describes nature at the smallest scale of energy levels of atoms and subatomic particles, to better understand the human psyche, can we use a similar method to better understand storytelling?
Can we put the “chaos” of storytelling into some kind of “order”?
Is quantum storytelling actually real, if we believe that:
“Everything we call real is made of things which cannot be regarded as real.” Niels Bohr
Or to put it more simply: Can quantum mechanics describe storytelling?
Let me remind you what we understood about the wheel from the previous exploration and where those conclusions are pointing to next:
1. The same way an archetype is both a symbol and predisposition for transformation of a character – the journey itself – the Intuitive Screenwriting wheel is also not static, on the contrary, it is dynamic, live system.
2. The Intuitive Screenwriting wheel is a structural and genre system built on the relationship between opposing archetypes. Oppositions are therefore enormously important for understanding how this wheel works.
3. It is also a journey – a transformational wheel.
In the feature film structure, archetypes progress from one to another in a counterclockwise direction. One cycle finishes at the point of the new or “higher” beginning/ like in a spiral, which this wheel actually is, (and honestly, the proper name that would suggest the mechanics of it would actually be the Intuitive Screenwriting Spiral).
Therefore, the architecture of the wheel is not liner or circular, it is spiral, which actually tells me that it is also fractal (further explanation is coming soon).
4. Also, a very important part of the language of the wheel is that it seems that every step or transformational stage on the wheel is also dual/oppositional. One archetype exists only in communication with its opposing archetype.
For example: if I want to explain why the exposition of the movie is actually Warrior on the wheel, I would not be able to do it without considering the existence of the Fool archetype or consciousness at the same time/stage. It seems that not only does the Positive/Shadow duality work in opposition, but also oppositions on the wheel are embedded into the very nature of every archetype and it seems that this same notion works on many levels. (Many future posts are going to be based on this rule).
But to use this as a rule while explaining the whole wheel in depth, we need yet another piece of proof. Something that would explain WHY EXACTLY THOSE OPPOSITIONS? And if we can prove that, then we would be able to say that we know the language of the wheel.
Even though we already said that the wheel “works” because communicating archetypes are sextiles in astrology, for me that was not enough. I sensed it had to be something more than that. I started connecting the dots on the zodiacal wheel in 2D, like I would do when writing a story in 3D.
And this is what I got:
"Geometry is the archetype of the beauty of the world." – Johannes Kepler
What you are looking at here took my breath away.
You can see archetypes as planets on the zodiacal wheel and I am using the zodiac because this is how archetypes would appear in the real sky.
You can also see that archetypes belonging to the same element are connected by a
We have four triangles, as we have four elements, as we have four acts:
FIRE TRIANGLE ACT 1: Warrior, Creator, Explorer
EARTH TRIANGLE ACT 2: Lover, Sage, Ruler
AIR TRIANGLE ACT 3: Fool, Orphan, Magician
WATER TRIANGLE ACT 4: Caregiver, Destroyer, Innocent
And remember the archetypal wheel progression? From Warrior you go to Creator and then to Explorer, then to Lover, and then to Sage, and Ruler, … Fool, Orphan, Magician, Caregiver, Destroyer, Innocent.
When you take this 12-pointed star that you see and when you stretch all four triangles, one by one and make one consecutive circle out of it you get the Intuitive Screenwriting Wheel,
which just mean that the Intuitive Screenwriting Wheel has the properties of 12-pointed star!
The 12-pointed star (not the circle, but the star) is THE GEOMETRY OF THE STORY, actually just a blueprint of it. If you want the “live expression” of it, then it would be more accurate to see it in 3D reality, and that would be a DODECAGON, which, in geometry, is any twelve-sided polygon.
IT IS THE SACRED GEOMETRY OF THE HERO’S JOURNEY where every act is a closed system and yet intertwined with the rest of the wheel. This is really important for understanding the four act structure!
While you progress from one archetype to another this is the image that you are drawing into the collective conscious sky – one of the Platonic solids, actually the most important one.
The Platonic solids are prominent in the philosophy of Plato and he wrote about them in the dialogue Timaeus. Out of the five regular or Platonic solids: Earth was associated with the cube, air with the octahedron, water with the icosahedron, and fire with the tetrahedron,
As for the dodecahedron, the fifth regular solid, Timaeus said: “...the god used [it] for arranging the constellations on the whole heaven".
“God placed water and air in the mean between fire and earth, and made them to have the same proportion so far as was possible (as fire is to air so is air to water, and as air is to water so is water to earth); and thus he bound and put together a visible and tangible heaven. And for these reasons, and out of such elements which are in number four, the body of the world was created, and it was harmonized by proportion, making up out of all the four elements each separate body, and fastening the courses of the immortal soul in a body which was in a state of perpetual influx and efflux.”
From what Plato is suggesting, my conclusion is: The shape of the story is the shape of the universe.
Our experience of time and space in the solar system is governed by the number 12: 12 months (Sun), two times 12 hours (Moon) – day and night. The rest of the planets are organized in triads of earth, water, air, and fire which give meaning to the whole. And the whole is actually a map of consciousness projected into the three-dimensional world.
And let me tell you that Plato’s ideas are not just ideas, some physicists today are asking themselves:
“Is the universe a dodecahedron?”
“In an infinite flat space, waves from the Big Bang would fill the universe on all length scales. The observed lack of temperature correlations on scales beyond 60∘ means the broadest waves are missing, perhaps because space itself is not big enough to support them.
Here we present a simple geometrical model of a finite, positively curved space -- the Poincaré dodecahedral space …” You can read more here.
Now when we know that the Intuitive Storytelling Wheel is not just any archetypal wheel but it is supported by geometry filled with ancient meaning, I feel I’m allowed to start to play with the “quantum physics storytelling” term.
“Truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.” ― Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
“Wave-particle duality is the concept in quantum mechanics that every particle or quantum entity may be partly described in terms not only of particles but also of waves.”
This means that everything that can be seen as an object can also be felt as a frequency.
Today we know that this is true not just for the invisible world (microcosm), but also for the visible (macrocosm): planets are also considered both objects/particles and frequencies/waves. When we look at them, they are particles, but when we don’t, they behave like waves. The moon has 13 cycles every year (Caregiver: every month you can conceive of). Saturn has three cycles a century (Ruler: approximately every 33,3 years you enter into a new phase of maturity). In our personal lives, on a smaller scale, we live the collective consciousness rhythm.
So – are archetypes waves or particles?
We can say that when we observe archetypes they have concrete qualities, they look and behave in a certain manner – but when we are not observing them, and particularly when they cannot be seen, when they are part of our subconsciousness, they carry a certain specific frequency that can still influence us.
According to the Copenhagen interpretation, physical systems generally do not have definite properties prior to being measured. While spinning, an electron itself is everywhere at once. For an electron to “decide what is it,” someone has to observe it experimentally. Only by looking at reality, reality exists. Before that, there is just the potential for reality.
Does an archetype exist before we observe it?
Is what will come at the end defined in advance?
The answer is that we define what is going to be for us – since we are altering the meaning of the archetype through our observation; you know that to be true for every story you have ever read or seen. The story is actually happening within us; before, it was just the potential for a story.
Quantum entanglement is a special close relationship between a pair of quantum particles whose fates are intertwined if they are created at the same event. Their properties are linked no matter where they are, and as soon as we measure them, we know they would be opposite.
Physicists explain this with a pair of gloves. They say: “If you found a right glove alone in your drawer, you can be certain the missing glove would fit your left hand. The two gloves could be described as entangled, as knowing something about one would tell you something important about the other.”
“For example, if a pair of particles is generated in such a way that their total spin is known to be zero, and one particle is found to have clockwise spin on a certain axis, the spin of the other particle, measured on the same axis, will be found to be counterclockwise, as is to be expected due to their entanglement.” Albert Einstein called this phenomenon “spooky action at a distance.”
When two opposing archetypes on the wheel are communicating with each other, they are behaving as if they were created at the same event!
Who would say that the Warrior archetype is the right glove and the Fool is the left?
But this is exactly what the language of the wheel suggests, both geometrically and archetypally.
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
“The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely (effective) the momentum is known in this instant and vice versa.” Werner Heisenberg, 1927
In psychology and storytelling, I would say that can be translated into:
The more precisely the PAIN or PLEASURE is determined, the less precisely (effective) the TRANSFORMATION is known in this instant, and vice versa.
Or, as much as you concentrate on suffering/pain/fear, you cannot see the transformation/love that comes out of it.
You can even translate it to the very nature of the storytelling process,: the more you are in the now, the less you see the whole picture, and vice versa. Or, the less you are in the situation, the more you are going to be able to see the character arc.
The more you are using your logical left brain, the less imagination is going to come from the right side of your brain.
And this is exactly the reason why this blog exists, being intuitive while working with the system (which every structure is) is a challenge for screenwriters, but to find a unique and even poetic and truthful way of connecting the two is pure joy.
I will conclude this with an anecdote connected to Niels Bohr. Allegedly one of his friends was surprised to find a horseshoe above his front doorway. And even today, it is believed that horseshoes bring luck when placed over a door. But Niels Bohr was a prominent physicist, so a visitor asked him, “how come you of all people believe in it?” And this is what he replied:
“Of course I don’t believe in it, but I understand that it brings you luck, whether you believe in it or not.”
Next time I will compare the Intuitive Screenwriting Wheel with the Hero’s journey and Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet.