Why is linear problem solving an appreciation of space and holistic problem solving an appreciation of time?
I’m going back through the material on PS-Style (thank you, recent holistic questions thread ) and found the space/time reference in the Character Mental Sex: Male or Female? on the Storymind YouTube channel.
Imagine you are in a tiled room and want to know what all of the tiles look like together. You can’t see all of the tiles together, though, because you’re standing on one of them. The best you can do is to put your back in the corner and look at all but the one you are standing on. This gives you one observation. Then you can stand on a different tile, turn and look at the one you were just on. This gives you a second observation. Then your mind combines the two observations into a single synthesized image of what the tiles should look like all together.
This is like your mind. When you make an observation, you want to get the fullest image of it that you can. Mass, Energy, Space, and Time. But you can’t look at all four at once. So you have to put your back into one corner and look at the other three, then step into another corner, look again, and synthesize a full image.
Because of the way the mind works, you will either view Mass, Space, and Energy followed by Mass, Time, and Energy, or you will view them in the opposite order.
The final image will look different, though, depending on which corner you observe first. Think of it like as looking through colored lenses. If you look through a blue lens first and a red lens second, you see a bluish purple. Look through red first and then blue and you see a reddish purple. But with the mind, look through the Space set first and you will see a Spatial Time. Look through the Time set first and you will see a Temporal Space.
If you look at Space first, your world will be filtered through space and structure and linearity. Look at Time first and your world is filtered through process and dynamics and holism.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply, @Greg. Drilling down on space = linear and and time = holistic.
Why isn’t it that time = linear because time moves forward moment by moment and we can’t deviate from it? And space = holistic because stepping back and viewing the space that something occupies is viewing the whole picture?
Now, this is just a general mood word use. I’m no expert. I’ve been mulling over holistic mc movies I’ve seen. Auntie Mame is a holistic mc and she does do at the end with the nephew’s fiancee’s parents what she did with his earlier ‘training’ or years living with her, it seems. I was thinking over how to describe the muddling around mood vs the zipping along mood difference between the two. Muddling is not a negative just my brain’s search for visual expression. Maybe, holistics have different tools and linear has one. I’ll edit this if I am incorrect about something, always learning.
I feel like you sort of answered your own question, but backwards!
If you’re standing on time and can’t really see it, that’s when it seems like something you can’t do anything about, or use to problem solve. Like you said it moves forward moment by moment and we can’t control that, so we focus on what we can see – Space – to problem solve. We still know about time (ordering of steps linearly, A before B), but we follow its unbreakable laws without question.
Holistic on the other hand can see time as malleable, and knows that what the linear thinker sees as unbreakable laws are illusions. So they can make use of time to solve problems.
Unfortunately, my linear mind can’t seem to conceive why balancing forces is an appreciation of time as malleable, so hopefully someone else can explain that. Is it because the holistic thinker is stepping outside of cause and effect?
That actually makes a lot of sense! They’re each talking about the thing out of their control.
I’d guess men/linear thinkers don’t tend to ask for space in a relationship because they know how to carve out their own space if they need it. (sports channel, man cave, etc.)
I wonder if another distinguishing feature of linear vs. holistic is which item you tend to blame when your problem solving fails or gets stuck. I know as a linear thinker, when I have struggled with my writing in the past I would tend to blame it on “not having enough time to write”. It was only after much work examining the issue from different angles that I could see, “hmm maybe it’s more that I need to find (or nourish) the space to write”. That made the problem seem much more solvable.
For example, writing during my lunch hour might only net me 30-40 minutes by the time I get my food and eat. Not a lot. The real benefit is that evening, when it’s easier to get into the headspace of my story because I was just there.
Note that a holistic thinker may have solved this problem much more easily, arriving at the same or similar solution by balancing forces. I had to grind it into a linear if/then using an odd concept like “headspace” to get there.
But, I follow your thoughts, as I’d been doing something like that with some larger issues that I’ve finally decided to look at as more about an imbalance in life where intent reigns rather than something that I “don’t have time for” or some such non-sense. (These things are things that, honestly, don’t really have a start or end, but more like either they’re being nurtured or not.)
By the way, Greg. I love this explanation, as it marks the most clarity as to something interesting I’ve been seeing occur in some of things I’ve been doing this year in an attempt to think more holistically about my own life.
I would have to word it as I’ve started treating time less as factor, and more as denizen. Yet, that’s not quite right. What you’ve said here, though, really explains my intent in that wording.
P.S. Looking at Time is a scary world for a Linear thinker not used to the complexities of process and dynamics. Though, it’s also a very rich and interesting world.
Because time doesn’t move forward moment by moment. Rather, Space reconfigures moment by moment. Meanwhile, Time-a relationship between moments-moves toward numeric increase or decrease, stretches, extends, dilates, flies, shrinks, slows, etc. When we speak of Time moving in a linear manner, it’s because we’ve combined it with or are seeing it through the lens of Space.
Because the whole picture is not the whole story. It completely leaves out an order of exploration, a balance of the elements within the picture. If you take a car to the mechanic and tell him it something is wrong with it and he looks under the hood and says everything seems to be in order, all the places where they are supposed to go, are you going to feel like he has the whole picture? Or are you going to feel like maybe he should try to crank it to see how the car runs in order to get a more complete view?
I don’t know of a story, but there is an article out there that describes it very similar-though much better-to how I did.
Exactly. Funny how this seems to me to support one point of view and you the opposite. I hope it’s okay if I drill down on this further. I know I’m new here and don’t have all the terminology down pat, but I’ll give it my best shot.
Space is what is reconfiguring moment by moment. Agreed. But, to me, that makes space the “great is-ness.” Space is what is. Without explanation. Any one moment, or slice of is-ness, exists just because it does. Like a hunch. Like intuition. The chair in the corner of my room is just there because it exists. I don’t know why it is there, and cannot explain it without time. What occupies space is a hunch manifest, so to speak.
The logical if/then calculations between one slice of is-ness and the next belong in time. If I wanted to explain why the chair is logically in the corner of my room, I’d have to have the concept of the cause and effect that joins one slice of space to the next. It is pure logic. Time calculates the consequences of each slice of space and delivers the configuration for the next. Cause and effect. If/then. This then that. It’s all so logical, and the advancing from one is-ness moment to the next is where explanations live.
Does this make sense? Space has no motion without time. Time brings us consequence and logic.
Again, I look at this as supporting the opposite. The mechanic who looks under the hood gets a “space” hunch that all is good. He’s working intuitively. Everything seems where it is supposed to be.
The mechanic that uses time to start the car is using logic. He’s bringing in consequence. Turn the key and what happens? A rattle? A wheeze? Diagnostics cannot exist without time.
Thank you so much for answering @mlucas, and please forgive me if I am overstepping as a newbie by questioning you further. (I’m still finding my way here socially.)
I’m not quite satisfied with the answer that space is linear because it is more obvious and time is holistic because it is more mysterious.
I think that the following is what you are saying, right?
holistic = intuition = mysterious = time which is mysterious
linear = logic = reasonable = space which is obvious
Intuition, to me, is a deep sense of knowing. What is known by intuition doesn’t take evaluative thought to be known. A hunch exists because it exists, with no past or future to explain it. A hunch is more obvious than logic. It is known without examination or anxiety. It’s just there.
Logic is where the questions are. Is it this or is it that? Choices have to be made. Things evaluated. Logic is self-aware, and with that self-awareness comes uncertainty. Nothing is taken for granted. In that sense, it is much more complicated and even mysterious than intuition. Intuition asks no questions. Logic does.
See my answers above. That’s why I’m asking if time = linear problem solving because it is where cause and effect lives.
Thanks so much to everyone for answering my questions. I enjoy learning from you all.
Actually no – I think it came across that way because holistic thinking is mysterious to me as a linear thinker.
It was wrong of me to suggest that linear thinkers don’t use time – they use a linear (spatially filtered) appreciation of time. For example, linear Bob says he’ll first help Lisa with her homework, then next week buy her a cookie, then a bit later (if she seems receptive to his affections) he’ll ask her to the dance. He knows he has to take time and order into account, and his plan could read like a flowchart.
Holistic Bob wouldn’t be so focused on the goal of taking Lisa to the dance. Instead, he would recognize the imbalance of love and maybe balance that out with a song, or helping his friends with their love lives.
Also, although some of the elements do seem to fit more naturally with one or the other, keep in mind each PS Style can work with any of the elements. e.g. holistic use of Logic* or Theory, linear use of Feeling or Hunch.
All I mean to suggest is that the movement of time isn’t necessarily a linear thing, though we think of it and measure it as though it is. Our perception of time is that we are riding along a timeline passing consecutive numbers as we go…2020, 2021, 2022. And because we feel like we’re moving in a line and we label it with consecutive numbers, we think of time as being a line that we follow like a path. And that’s one way to look at it.
But at the same time, I can say there is one piece of time that connects “the present” with the beginning of year 1. In this instance, 2021 isn’t a point on a map or a line that tells us where in time we are, but rather a measurement that explains how much time has stretched. Once, there was no distance between 1 and “the present”, but now that time, the relationship between those two things, has stretched by a measure of 2021 units of a year.
So time isnt just a line and doesn’t just move along a line. It expands. Or, going the other way-such as a timer that counts down from 10 to 0-time shrinks. Or in the case of a runner who came in second place just one second behind first place, time will remain motionless. That one second will always be one second. And though time seems to move along at the rate of 1 second per second for everyone, get in a spaceship and accelerate to 90% of the speed of light for a while and then let’s compare watches. Chances are time moved a little different for you than it did for me. So time can act different based on the dynamics.
And so that’s why time moving forward moment by moment doesn’t make a time view a linear view.
Believe it or not, Space is not a fundamental. What IS fundamental are the relationships between Mass, Energy, Space, and Time. While this is a Dramatica concept, I’ve also come across articles outside of Dramatica that make the exact same claim.
What that means is that, given the proper context, what looks like Space now may look like Mass from another perspective, or Energy or Time from another. But whatever it is that you observe, if it sits in proper alignment with Mass, Energy, and Time, it will always look like Space because of the relationships.
Dividing space across time creates SpaceTime, which is not Time.
I feel like we’re kind of floating away from the topic. And I feel like maybe I could try to address the original question again and get closer to the kind of answer you’re looking for, but itll probably be tomorrow before I can circle back around to that.
I’ll give this a shot by paraphrasing the great Melanie Anne Phillips. “Linear thinkers see how things are arranged. Holistic thinkers see the processes at work.” Seeing a process at work requires Time to watch it move and change, while seeing how things are arranged requires Space to visualize/conceptualize it with the senses. There is no temporal movement to see how a thing is arranged (Space/Linear) at any given point in time, but to see a process at work you need that temporal movement (Time/Holistic). Both are Mindsets that work in tandem together, but in a story there is a focus on one or the other in order to solve or balance the inequity at the core of the story.