In the inspiration stage we defined the ignition spark; the fundamental essence or will of your idea. This stage (Contrast) and the next (Ideality) are devoted to mapping this inspiration spark into 2 dimensional space, so we have something more accessible and falsifiable to work with.
This stage we will be defining the idea's one dimensional presence, visualized as a line that originates with the ignition spark that was defined in the inspiration stage. This line from the point of origin to it's contrast will become the spectrum on which points can be defined as having a higher or lower relative value.
So the first step is to find the opposite of the original inspiration, so we can use this opposite reference as the point to which we draw out this one dimensional line which we will use as a spectrum. Then we need to label the spectrum so we can refer to it in later stages; this label will later become our X axis.
By the end of this stage we will have identified our ideas' one dimensional space or X axis , found a suitable label for it, and be able place other ideas on this spectrum to give us a better sense of the types of ideas that inhabit the desired one dimensional space. This will serve as inspiration for defining the next stage; the directionality which gives us 2 dimensional space.
Defining the opposite
We recommend using "the fool" path in the navigation model as an archetype for triggering thoughts about contrasts and opposites. Often in the wisdom of foolishness we find illumination on the opposite of our focus of attention.
The basic idea for defining the opposite is to think of the first principle of your idea, and then try to think of what its negation will be. There you have your opposite!
If only it were that simple. The negation needs to be a universal maxim, similar to how we arrived at the first principles of the inspiration, and it can't just be the absence of something - it needs to be a value. Can we reduce the opposite anymore? What's the assumption of the opposite? What's at the core of the opposite? What other opposites are there that could also be used? It might seem contradictory, but a thing has many different opposites each with slightly differing meanings. We want to arrive at the opposite that is most relevant to our inspiration. This in turn will help understand more about the inspiration first principles, and more about the intuitive direction we want to take it. Let's illustrate this with an example:
Using the example statement from stage 1 of "flying to go somewhere fast" we can define a few opposites at first glance:
1. Flying to not get somewhere fast
2. Not - flying to get somewhere fast
3. Flying to get nowhere fast
Each of these statements are flawed in that they are only the absence of something that exists in our original statement. They don't express an essence or elicit an easily understood phenomenon so it would be really difficult to work with these opposites. With dark and light we have a very accessible sense of darkness and a very accessible sense of lightness.
We need to create a sense of what it means to fly in the context of getting somewhere. If we break down our example statement, we actually have 2 propositions; flying and getting somewhere fast. In stage 1 Inspiration, flying was the base of the example inspiration in the dream, so we will work with that for defining the opposite. Now we can start labelling all of the opposite meanings of flying:
Think what it would mean if you were in a dream and you were flying, and you were no longer flying. If you are no longer flying you are...
We plot flying as our point 0, and now we draw out a line to create our 1 dimension with one of the three listed opposites at the other end. This line is going to be the X axis; it is now the spectrum that makes up the first dimension of this idea.
If one of the opposite examples could actually be plotted within the same spectrum of another opposite, then choose the opposite that is further away as your X axis and integrate the closer opposite value within the X axis. In this case falling is the furthest point out of the examples, so we will use this as our point of contrast and X axis. Floating can be conceived as a state somewhere between flying and falling, and motionless is more relevant to our second proposition of getting somewhere fast; so that can be used in the 3rd stage of defining a direction, we will explain that in the next stage (Ideality).
We've established that a useful opposite for flying to get somewhere fast should be considered as falling. Next, either attempt to name the axiom of your spectrum with a universal concept, if it's obvious, or place ideas on the spectrum to bring it alive and give you hints as to what is the most relevant universal label for it.
Enchanting our spectrum
Now it's time to bring the spectrum alive by populating it with other ideas. We now need to think of all the existing ideas that have some association with falling or flying and plot them on our axiom. Remember as this is only 1 dimensional spectrum, the upper and lower limits can only be defined relative to its contents; this is to say they are infinite and we could populate the spectrum with an infinite amount of things. We can only define our idea's flyingness or fallingness relative to other things that fall or fly. There is no hypothetical limit to how much something could theoretically fly or fall as its a relative scale, but the further something is away from the center of the spectrum the more energy would be required for it's existence.
The fact we've come to a spectrum which could be infinite at either end is also a good sign that we've reached a strong archetype; we know we have arrived at an archetype if it has an infinite quality about it. The more accessible and archetypical the labels, axioms, values etc the more "alive" the idea is, and the better we can interface with it.
Now that we've added some existing ideas onto the spectrum, we have started developing a phenomenological experience of the one dimension we are exploring. We can get a feeling for essence of the ideas here which will trigger our access to the collective unconscious. If you are stuck on labelling the axiom, or defining the next stage of which direction the idea is going in, try to keep populating the spectrum. The more you bring attention to this spectrum the more accessible it becomes and the more our imagination can start working with us.
Naming the axiom
What do all the ideas on the spectrum have in common? Where do we feel our idea is best placed on this spectrum relative to the other ideas? What do we experience when we think of things that fall, and things that fly?
Our axiom will need to be something which can have a positive and negative value, where the positive value would be associated with more flying, and the negative value will be associated with more falling. Depending how the spectrum is populated, the direction of the axiom will vary. Here are some examples of the different ways the spectrum of flying and falling could be logically expressed, depending on what the focus of attention was:
These could all work, as they are universally consistent. The meaning of these axioms have a consistent meaning through time, of course unless motions and some physical laws changed. We choose the axiom which best reflects the spirit or function of the idea we have already committed to. If you are stuck with choosing, then reference the inspiration - ask the questions again, why did I enjoy that flying dream - was it because I was floating, lifting, rising? What are you more drawn towards and what resonates better. The axiom can always change at a later stage, and you will get more ideas as you progress.
The contrast part does get a bit more complicated when it comes to non physical ideas, as axioms which use social concepts as their reference points, e.g. anarchism, have meanings which are liable to change over time. It depends on context to context, but the general rule in defining the contrast is defining the furthest logically consistent imaginal point as possible from the thesis - so if the thesis is anarchism, then it's opposite would accurately be described as ordered government - that is unless we could think of anything more structured than that.
If there are multiple propositions in the inspiration that need to be turned into a contrast, then we need to either reduce its scope or it hasn't been simplified enough via the first principles. Remember we are still creating the vision and essence of the idea in the first 3 stages of this model; so we are trying to keep it simple and accessible - the complexity can come at the latter stages.
Note that the more specific the axiom the more specific the output will be in the latter stages, and the more abstract the axiom the more opportunity for creativity - the scope of the axiom will define the scope of the vision. Multiple concepts further down the stages can be created within the same scope defined here. But once this scope is defined and the vision is created, if you want to create an idea outside of the scope you will need to go through the first 3 stages again, and it might not have synergies with the original idea.
Best practice is to realize that this stage is about defining the scope of the project - and err on the side of making it more abstract rather than more specific so that you keep your opportunities open and can create more specifics in the concept creation stages 4 - 6. On the other hand, if you already know you want to create a very specific idea, then the X axis can be defined very specifically, and focusing on making a universal axiom isn’t as necessary.
If you need help determining the opposite of your idea, or if you aren't sure that your axiom is universally consistent, or if you want to define a contrast to create better narratives, then don’t hesitate to contact us. Even if you simply just want to share your thoughts and get in touch we are more than happy to open dialogue.
Our vision at Ideatry is to bring about a more meaningful future, by synthesizing materialism with idealism - so we are more than happy to share our ideal methods, to co-create a better future.
"The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites" - Carl Jung
Contrast provides context. Without sadness we don't have happiness, without darkness we don't have light and without yin we don't have yang. Without reference to the opposite of what you are trying to achieve, you won't be able to create a consistent definition of failure, or leverage contrasts to create a more powerful effect, i.e. contrast effect, or understand the idea within a universal dialectical framework.
Inputs: First principles, inspiration statement
Outcomes: First dialectic axiom (or x label), list of ideas on the same spectrum
Archetypes in focus:
The Fool for identifying the contrast
The Mediator to balance the contrast with the ideality
The Director to anchor the contrast as the north star of concept development
The Philosopher to explore the meaning of the contrast