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the style cube of
prototypic responses

My stylistic analysis results from resolving a puzzling assertion by Erich Fromm in Man for Himself (1947). His characterization of a Productive Character was clearly 'active', 'strong' and 'positive'. On the corners of a cube with variables of activity, strength and +/- valence, three of his character types differed on one dimension, i.e., an Investing one as passive, a Marketing one as weak and a Destructive one as negative. The other three character types were Productive's two-dimensional opposites, i.e., Hoarding as negative Investing, Gambling as negative Marketing and Receptive as passive, weak and positive. He omitted Productive's passive, weak and negative three-dimensional opposite -- that I will call Ineffectual. These eight, in their interrelationships, provided the model for my subsequent sets of prototypical styles. Its more elaborated version is shown as the Cube of Character in Figure 10 of Part Three.

( At the risk of adding confusion, I have found that it is imperative for understanding response variations in the style cubes, to maintain the same color schema that I have used for distinguishing among the eight archetypal problem-contexts. Here, of course the rationale is different. The white equivalent of Hedonism at the base, in this case Ineffectual, turns blue with strength, red with action and yellow with a change to positive valence. Green and orange are the positive versions of blue and red, while violet and black are the negative and positive versions of active and strong. Their dialectical three-dimensional oppositions simulate those of the archetypes)

Over the years, while trying to 'improve' every typology I met, I usually had to infer the three variables similar to activity, strength and valence and I almost always had to complete the set of eight styles. I have not found social scientific analyses that use variables similar to these three and then characterize the points where they meet. For example, in Dennis Wrong's Power: Its Forms, Bases and Uses (1979) there are only two formulations where variables like those of the trio are specified (Bertrand de Jouvenal, 1958, on 'authority' and Robert A Dahl, 1963, on 'economic systems'), but neither of them labeled the resulting corners. Thus it became increasingly clear that specifying the variables and corners of a 'syle cube' was a neglected conceptual tool. Our ancestors used it to describe bodily 'humors', as is still a current practice over much of the world. One problem is our difficulty in thinking of three abstract dimensions at the same time (as opposed to conceptualizing the length, width and height of a box or a building). The other difficulty is that focusing our attention simultaneously on the meeting points of the extremes of three variables, e. g., activity, strength and valence, is not easy. Since Psychological Structuralism a century ago, numerous theorists (cf. Charles E. Osgood, 1966) have employed similar variables.

Postures on a Cube's Corners
Consequently, the prototypic second central conception of this paradigm, a cube of styles, is most easily seen as reflecting our life's alternative postures - ones enshrined by actors - based on the emotional moods underlying our breathing. Alternately, we are 'open' (receptive) or 'blocked' (defensive) while our breathing is either rapid or slow and either deep or shallow. Although these, over time, will average out, at any given moment the points where they meet may well be seen as primordial. These eight corners may easily be characterized by human figures. Four of their bodies have convex profiles, their arms akimbo and heads thrown back to indicate receptivity. Four opposite ones with concave profiles, elbows drawn back and heads lowered indicate defensiveness. The four with deep breathing have filled-in bodies; empty bodied ones indicate shallow breathing. Rapid breathing is indicated by running, while kneeling is for slow breathing.

[The corner labels that I assign to their contrasting meeting points are:
  Laughing (open; deep; rapid) opposite Weeping (closed; shallow; slow),
Defiant (closed; deep; rapid) opposite Meditative (open; shallow; slow),
Whistling (open; shallow; rapid) opposite Brooding (closed; deep; slow) &
Yawning (open; deep; slow) opposite Agitated (closed; shallow; rapid).]

The Style Cube
Although these postures might seem to have little to do with the Paradigm, I maintain that, under other labels, they are alternate styles of response to the whole range of human problems. You may judge this assertion when you have seen them applied to the relevant Individual and Collective archetypes.

The terms I prefer for the variables' meeting-points (shown as opposites) are as follows...

Resilient  /  Collapsed   ( like Laughing / Weeping )
Tough  /  Yielding   ( like Defiant / Meditative )
Flexible  /  Rigid   ( like Whistling / Brooding )
Stable  /  Brittle   ( like Yawning / Agitated )

These are shown below in my basic Style Cube as:

active approach with strongly for

passive avoidance with weakly against

active avoidance with strongly against

passive approach with weakly for

active approach with weakly for

passive avoidance with strongly against

passive approach with strongly for

active avoidance with weakly against


[To be noted here is that Erickson (op. cit.) assigns both the valence oppositions and the attributes for active approach and strongly for to his Developmental Stages. If he had added ones for active avoidance, passive approach, passive avoidance, strongly against, weakly for and weakly against, he would have had the dimensions of my Individual archetypes.]

You may think of parts one and two as presenting what I consider to be the parameters of a fundamental crystalline form, or the rules of a puzzle. My suggestions as to its solution comprise the Semantic Space of part three. If you accept the rules, accept my challenge to improve upon it.

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