This article is the third in the series introducing the various Elements of Consciousness (or problem-solving mindsets, for the less dramatically inclined). It deals with four Elements that are more powerful and nuanced, known as the Great Elements.
The Great Elements are combinations of opposing Primary or Secondary Elements. They each deal with a single aspect of reality (in this case concepts, navigation, paths, and interactions), but balance the opposing processes of their source Elements in order to wield their aspect with tremendous effectiveness. To be able to use a Great Element implies being able to use either of the Primary or Secondary Elements that make it up, as well as the related Tempered Elements by logical extension. Each of those Elements is an aspect of the power of the Great Element, but being able to use them all results in a gestalt power, which is greater and more versatile than the sum of its parts (as usual for the Elements).
Although the case could be made that the Great Elements have two opposing pairs like the Primary Elements, in the interests of respecting their nuances and avoiding the creation of an infinite series of ever more complex Elements, there are no opposing pairs in the Great Elements. On a similar note, the Great Elements are all on the same level, despite two being composed of Primary Elements and two being composed of Secondary Elements, same as the Tempered Elements. We’ll see what happens when the Great Elements are combined in the article dealing with Cosmic Elements (coming soon).
Blood Element (combination of Ice and Fire) is the Element of perception, and it combines analysis and synthesis in order to assess how well concepts fit together or whether they accurately reflect reality, and generate new concepts to test against the world. With these two processes working together, perception allows you to see both that which is and that which can be, and evolve conceptual models to accurately describe the world and how it can be altered. The contributing mindsets of science and design allow you to better get a much better idea of how a system works, and to imagine ideas for devices or systems that take advantage of that knowledge.
The major strength of perception is that by both examining reality and generating new ideas, it is the strongest source of paradigm shifts out of all the mindsets. The major weakness of perception is that shifting paradigms is all it does. Unless a problem can be addressed by increasing your understanding of a problem and devising some solution (and only devising it; logistics and implementation aren’t part of this mindset), then perception is not sufficient. In other words, although perception is a huge game-changer, it does not automatically confer the ability to actually play the proverbial game. Each time it changes the game, the other great mindsets soon master the new version and outpace perception.
Typically, a perception user who lacks other mindsets will evolve their paradigms into a unique understanding of the world—accurate or not—based on their own experiences, until they become estranged and alienated from mainstream society to some degree. Without action, they have no force with which to move things. Without communication, they appear eccentric or mad and cannot engage with others. Without facilitation, their decisions are ineffective and often even counterproductive. The only real power granted by perception alone is the power to make sense of one’s experiences, constructing a coherent model based on them. For many perception users, their only way to cope with the world is to understand it and themselves as best they can, figure out their apparent role in existence, and alter their own thought patterns to adapt to it as best they can. Unless they can learn the other mindsets, though, or successfully share their ideas with someone who has, their ability to make a difference in the world is severely limited.
Examples of perception mindset include the fields of philosophy, psychology, and science and design (obviously, since they’re the tempered mindsets that go into perception). Revolutionaries, ideologues, visionaries, and satirists use perception to figure out where things stand and where to go from here. It should be noted that perception mindset is the one that was used to come up with the theory of all of these mindsets.
Blaire is a perception user. She studies human psychology and culture. In her spare time, she writes humorous science-fiction stories that show how the world could be different with technological advances, while highlighting the current foibles of society that seem to be leading humanity down a path that people may not want to travel. Her stories raise important ethical questions and make the reader think introspectively about what they really want from the future and from their own life.
Perception mindset has a blood theme because blood is a good representation of a dynamic system, and perception’s role is to learn the workings of systems and use that understanding to be able to change them. Blood also has connotations of “identity” through its historical association with heredity, and thus serves as a dramatic-sounding stand-in for genetic material (even though red blood cells don’t contain DNA). As a representation of genetic material, blood represents the inner blueprints of systems and their capacity to evolve and adapt to their surroundings, or to be altered artificially. Effectively, it can be said that perception mindset allows you to perceive, understand, and redesign any system, due to its mastery of concepts.
Blood Element is represented by the color magenta.
Gravity Element (combination of Electricity and Water) is the Element of action, and it combines organization and operation to both optimize and internalize a person’s navigation of the world. With the ability to make and implement decisions at both the logistical and the immediate level, action is incredibly powerful at setting things in motion and keeping them moving. Furthermore, with the tempered aspects of orchestration and thoroughness, action mindset allows you to keep many different things moving together in a harmonious manner as well as getting the most use out of your resources.
Examples of action mindset include maintaining an active and productive schedule, keeping your life balanced while managing many tasks and events, running your own business, and in general getting more done than most people think is possible. Effectively handling many obligations and goals ranging from basic to complex is the hallmark of action. Self-driven people who are constantly working towards success in their chosen career or field are using action mindset to make the most of their time and energy. They put forth consistent effort to advance the items on their schedule and pace themselves to avoid burnout. Your own energy is, after all, a resource you can learn to skillfully manage and apply.
Graham is a high-level action mindset user. He is a high-powered project management consultant. He wakes up early, goes to work at his fast-paced and high-stakes job, works out after work, goes to other countries on vacations, does investing, and plays on an amateur ultimate Frisbee team. He is seldom idle.
Action mindset has a gravity theme because gravity remains reliable even as it influences the movements of innumerable objects. Like electricity (technically electromagnetism), gravity is a fundamental force of the universe. Like both electricity and water, gravity can produce gradients of force which can even fluctuate over time in the form of waves. Also, water is associated with gravity due to famously flowing downhill and being drawn into tides. Another aspect of the theme is illustrated by a common verb used to describe the use of action mindset: “juggling”, as in juggling priorities, evokes the image of a person successfully opposing the effects of real gravity on a collection of objects by applying force to each one at the appropriate time. Additionally, one might also say that the tasks and projects surrounding an action user are metaphorically “orbiting” them, though the process for sustaining the orbits is the same as same as the one for “juggling”. On a different note, if a person’s action mindset is brought to bear on a single goal, it creates a tremendous force that is difficult to resist. A person can move a large obstacle, or simply propel themselves, if they apply enough effort and resources.
Gravity Element is represented by the color cyan.
Sand Element (combination of Earth and Wind) is the Element of facilitation, combining strategy and tactics to close and open possibilities by fortifying or repurposing paths through the thoughtful application of resources. With its power of combined opposites, facilitation can come up with a clever but risky tactic and then fortify it, or take a robust but obsolete structure and put it to a new use. By alternating between clever ploys and solid contingency plans (or using both at once), you can make extremely effective use of your resources and environment. With the contributing mindsets of salvage and overhaul, you can succeed despite having ill-suited resources and poor environmental conditions, and even remodel both over time to better suit your goals. One of the key words for facilitation is “leverage”. A lever is a tool for accomplishing more with less, allowing you to do things you couldn’t do with mere management of resources. The word facilitate itself means “to make easy”. If you want to accomplish a difficult goal in a difficult environment, facilitation mindset can likely furnish you with the plans you need.
Examples of facilitation mindset include military planning (which prominently features tactics and strategy specifically, although under different definitions), as well as less serious conflicts like games and sports (which also use operation mindset for intuition and smooth navigation). Facilitation is not just for conflict, though; it is used to plan purely constructive projects and investments of resources such as business ventures, revivals of towns and neighborhoods, or responses to disasters and epidemics. Any engineering project that has limitations on resources or environmental constraints (which means more or less all of them) will fare better by including facilitation mindset in the design process as well.
Shen is in charge of planning business ventures for an electronics vendor. She identifies applications and potential markets for new technologies. Because the market environment is always changing, she cuts losses (salvage) and helps the company move into new markets and fields (overhaul). A disciplined executive, Shen avoids investments that rely on too many contingencies and makes sure the company invests in advancement. Her hobbies include board games and video games that involve military command. When she goes out with friends, Shen prefers planned events and outings, but is ready to change her plans if options open up or disappear.
Facilitation mindset has a sand theme because of sand’s association with both earth and wind, as well as its qualities of being a non-Newtonian solid. Grains of sand are light enough to be blown by the wind, yet a bag of sand is still very heavy. Sand can sink under you or support you relatively solidly. It can erode things, or turn to stone; worsen a windstorm or construct a child’s castle. Although sand is not as exotic a theme as the other Great Elements, don’t let its mundane form fool you. Sand is a changing landscape, and whosoever can take advantage of its movements can shape it into the land of their choice.
Sand Element is represented by the color brown.
Script Element (combination of Light and Darkness) is the Element of communication, combining semantics and empathy to change how you interact with your environment to more easily engage with and influence it. Interactions deal with both information (semantics) and impressions (empathy)—in other words, content and delivery. Although pure communication cannot create paradigms from scratch and evolve them independently, as perception can, it can still enter the paradigms of other entities by individualizing interactions, and move within them fluently by simplifying the interactions. Its tempered aspects of translation and background allow information to be more effectively conveyed across paradigm differences, and impressions to be easily and reliably projected within familiar paradigms.
Examples of communication mindset include acting, disguising, endearing oneself to people from a variety of cultures, learning to intuitively read signs in nature, and mastering operation of systems, including but not limited to mechanical, computational, personal, animal, vegetable, and mineral. This mastery is limited by your understanding of the principles involved: if you lack the right concepts, you may have some trouble forming an accurate picture of who or what you are dealing with until you update your paradigms with knowledge derived from perception mindset. The interface between you and the rest of the world can be altered to let you move more easily through it, which often entails appearing and acting differently depending on the environment and the situation.
Scipio is a communication mindset user. He travels the world, immersing himself in different cultures and learning how to fit in. Through his travels he has become fluent in the languages and etiquette of six different cultures and can engage passably with cultures related to any of those. Anyone who has met him will describe him as charming and pleasant, through his specific demeanor varies from formal and subdued to boisterous and rowdy depending on who he is with. Not limiting himself to human interactions, wherever he travels Scipio spends time observing animals, plants, the land, sea, and weather, and learns how to read them, often helped by the local people he meets.
Communication mindset is themed after script (that is, written language) because it is the logical conclusion of combining the mindsets themed on ink and paper. Beyond the literal sense, translation mindset (Ink Element) deals with understanding and conveying information across paradigms, while background mindset (Paper Element) deals with understanding and conveying impressions within paradigms. Incorporating both, communication mindset deals with understanding and conveying both facts and feelings alike, within and between paradigms. People communicate meaning and reach understanding using the content, style, and context of their writing, speech, or other medium of communication. Written language just happens to be the easiest medium to represent as an “Element”. Furthermore, the word “script” also alludes to the instructions used by actors, who convey information and impressions such that they “transform” themselves from a person into a character with different qualities. Because communication users can play various roles in order to interact with their environment, Script Element has a secondary theme of changing one’s appearance. The major limitation to this ability is that a person does not have all the knowledge or skills of the character they are playing, though they may be able to quickly learn it or improvise explanations to fill in the blanks.
Script Element is represented by the color gray.
The Great Elements strike a balance between opposing forces in order to achieve more powerful results. There will of course be situations in which one Element is more useful than its opposite, but in general having both to call on allows you to use them to support each other and do many things with them that neither Element could do alone. This creative gestalt of incomplete opposites, combining yin and yang, is the phenomenon that inspired the Ginnungagap Foundation’s name.