Chinese philosophers believe that everything in the universe is Yang and Yin. These polar opposites stand for everything: male-female, sun-moon, Self-Other, white-black, boom-bust, good-bad, rich-poor and so forth. These opposites come in infinite degrees and combinations, but while they are opposites, they are parts of the same whole, just as males and females form a couple or a family. They bear fruit or children, and over time, their relationships become increasingly complex, yet they are all still elements of the same whole.
This universal physical reality includes, of course, literature. All literature is basically just Yang (Self versus Other) or Yin (Self versus Self). Every facet of literature is just a derivative of the two. It can be divided further into three, four, five and so forth, simply describing more details as it is divided more precisely. Still, they are all integrated or interconnected as proven by human psychology, astrophysics and literature. The study of schizophrenia has proven this to be a reality. In Rodney St.
Michael’s book, Sync My World, the author describes how he came to the conclusion, through the experience of schizophrenia, that everything is related to each other. St. Michael, describes in his first book, Little Voices: A True Paranoid Schizophrenic Adventure, how he suffered from the experience of hearing five different voices with various personalities, continuously speaking to him, mysteriously from no where, just like Biblical prophets in the past, or just like Greek heroes like Odysseus talking to the “gods” and “goddesses” as “hallucinations,” which are in reality, elements of his own Self.
In ancient times, it would have been considered as divine or supernatural, and during the Middle-Ages, it would have been called “demon possession. ” But in today’s modern, scientific society, it is called schizophrenia, a psychiatric mental illness derived from the words “split mind. ” As the author tried to find the cure to his “split mind,” he documented his journey to enlightenment or his divine comedy, as fans of Dante’s Inferno might suggest. What he originally thought of as the voice of “Others,” were actually, as he discovered later, elemental voices of his own “Self.
” And that’s not all. The elements of his Self were a reflection of Others; in other words, the Self and Other are interconnected, integrated, dynamic and impermanent. The Individual Self, just like the Universal Self, which includes the Self and Others, keeps changing as time and circumstance change. Rodney St. Michael then describes how leading psychiatrists such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung agree with him. Freud believes that the Self or the mind is composed of three elements—the ego, the superego and the id. The id is the animalistic side of people.
The superego is their pride or their esteem needs, and the ego is the neutral referee or government that mediates between the two extreme sides. As St. Michael asserts, this is also reflected in ancient Hindu or Indian literature as Siva the “Destroyer,” Brahma the “Creator” and Vishnu the “Preserver. ” These are the archetypes for the “Bad,” the “Good” and the “Neutral,” which are continuously in conflict with each other, whether in the Self or Other, pausing only for a while, eventually finding fault with each other and resuming the fight.
Rodney St. Michael then describes these three as the voices of the Five Elements—Wood (or Air), Water, Earth, Fire and Metal (or Ether). From the dual components, Yang and Yin, the Whole can be further divided into three abstract entities—Vishnu, Brahma and Siva. And again, it can be further subdivided into the Five Elements, which are like five voices in literature speaking from five angles, forms or perspectives, but having the “same” content. Wood can stand for males, scholars, Yellows, ego needs or self-actualization needs and so forth.
Water symbolizes females, shamans, Small Browns, superego needs, etc. Earth portrays lesbians, the social business class, Blacks, belongingness needs and so forth. Fire depicts gays, the military, Whites, the militant business class, security needs, etc. And Metal symbolizes bisexuals, the bi military, Big Browns, the working class, physiological needs and so on. St. Michael then shows that the Five Elements form a conflict-harmony hierarchy and relationship structure within the Self and Others that speak through mediums like literature.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs illustrates a five-level Asian pyramid, where the Wood element is at the apex and Metal is at the base. Thus basic physiological needs such as food, water and sex form the base, and it is an integral part of books about passion, lust and violence. Above it is Fire or security needs, an essential aspect of literature dealing with money, finances or imperial conquests. Higher in the hierarchy is Earth or belongingness needs, the element that voices literature about the family, social networks, organizations, African Ubuntu (People are who they are because of Others) and so forth.
Above it is Water or esteem needs, the part of the Self that creates books about spirituality, harmony, peace, motherly love and so forth. Then at the top is Wood or self-actualization needs, the component of people that strives to maximize potential and is seen through literature about learning, education, government and so forth. St. Michael also points out that the structure is also portrayed in the Wu Xing or the Pentacle of Confucius. Imagine a five-pointed star where the lines between all apex points are visible and overlap each other.
Then visualize each of the Five Elements at the tip of each star point, where Wood and Metal are on opposite ends, while Wood and Earth are simultaneously at opposite ends of another line. Then the remaining points are filled by Water and Fire, with Water simultaneously connected with Water and Earth. The lines that form a star are the “conflict” lines between the Elements. But if one forms a circle around the star, just like the Texaco logo or a sheriff’s badge, then the circle outlines the “harmony” relationships among the Elements.
However, “conflict” and “harmony” are continuously dynamic, meaning it shifts and changes constantly like two lovers who love and hate each other perpetually, sometimes confusing another about the status of their relationship. This is evident not just within the Self but also within the Other; not just within the characters of a story, but also within the various genres of literature, continuously supporting and attacking each other in schizophrenic confusion, but in the end, coming up with the same conclusion, that they all need each other to survive; they are all one family.
This can be seen through the Five-Element ecological model. Wood or Trees need Water for nourishment, just as men need women, but flooding will rot Wood. In this case, Earth needs to absorb the excess Water, just as lesbians court females. The Fiery sun can also dry up soaked Wood. Mild sunshine is also healthful for trees or Wood but a wildfire will destroy it, just as gay admiration for young men may be humorously entertaining, like Narcissus looking at himself on the mirror, but sodomy and molestation is harmful.
Indeed, this was portrayed in Thomas Mann’s gay novella, Death in Venice, where Aschenbach, a German aristocrat, falls in love from a distance and dies in Venice at the sight of a young boy who walks to his corner after becoming upset with the boy’s own. The conflict between Selves is also often intermingled with Others. This is the case in works such as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, or Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
In the end, balance is needed among the Elements to develop harmony from a beginning full of conflict, either from the Self, Others or both. Rodney St. Michael also discovered that his own books where each angled from the perspective of each of the Five Elements. His first book, Little Voices: A True Paranoid Schizophrenic Adventure is Earth. The second book, Illuminati: Healing and Developing the Mind, is Fire. His third work, Sync My World: A SEA & Nautical Map to Relative Peace, is Water. And his fourth title, Sync My World: Thief’s Honor GA SK, is Wood.
His fifth and last book, Sync My World: The Middle Man and the Middle Way SKSK, is Metal and is still pending. The formation was unintentional, and its classification was only discovered by the author later, proving that this phenomenon is part of nature and the physical laws of the universe. This is also evident in Asian religious literature, where books are classified according to their Element, such as Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings. St. Michael theorizes that astrophysical laws are the reason why everything is connected and organized in this way.
Over the millennia, astrophysicists have been studying forces such as gravity, space and time. These forces somehow create polarities among everything in various degrees just as batteries or magnets have positive and negative poles. Quantum components such as electron, protons, neutrons, up quarks or down quarks in an atom, the stuff that stars are made of, indicate that this law is universal. This is also the same stuff that humans and everything else is made of. Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle also support this universal law.
Even ideas, such as astrology, which were once thought to be supersticious by scientific astrophysicists, are now being studied by well-educated astrophysicists like Percy Seymour. For instance, there is now a well-established physical connection between the 29-day female menstrual cycle, the 29-day lunar cycle, the Earth’s magnetic field, the Sun’s magnetic field and planetary influence of the Sun’s field through tidal forces. Thus, subdivisions of personality or the Elements, such as the twelve signs of the zodiac, from Aquarius to Pisces, are useful in understanding the Elements and in creating harmony.
Aquarius, Libra and Gemini, for example, are all Air Elements. On the other hand, Virgo, Taurus and Capricorn are Earth Elements. In literature, this is also evident in story and plot archetypes; they also form irregular cycles or repetition just like the cycles of the zodiac. Basically, every type of story has already been written hundreds, if not thousands, of times. The same story is just repeated over and over again from different perspectives which may come from various cultures, languages, genders, races, classes and so forth.
The Internet Public Library (IPL) and the Librarians’ Internet Index (LII) have compiled plot archetypes that are classified according to the level of detail, from one type to 3, 7, 20 and 36 plot types. In a single word, Foster-Harris, in The Basic Patterns of Plot, asserts that all plots can be simply described as “conflict. ” The conflict simply rises and falls within the plot. Viewing it with more detail, there are three types of plots: (1) the happy ending or “Type A,” (2) the unhappy ending or “Type B,” and the literary plot or “Type C” (Foster-Harris 66).
From second-grade English, the seven plots include man or woman versus the Self, other men or women, nature, the environment, technology or machines, the supernatural, and God or religion. Then Ronald Tobias details 20 plot types in his book, 20 Master Plots: Ascension, Adventure, Descension, Forbidden Love, Discovery, Escape, Love, Maturation, Metamorphosis, Pursuit, Quest, Sacrifice, Rescue, Revenge, The Riddle, Rivalry, Temptation, Transformation, Underdog and Wretched Excess.
Finally, Georges Polti in his book, The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations lists 36 plot types: Abduction, Adultery, All Sacrificed for Passion, Ambition, An Enemy Loved, Conflict with a God, Crimes of Love, Crime Pursued by Vengeance, Daring Enterprise, Deliverance, Disaster, Erroneous Judgment, Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One, The Enigma, Enmity of Kinsmen, Falling Prey to Cruelty of Misfortune, Fatal Imprudence, Involuntary Crimes of Love Slaying of a Kinsman Unrecognized, Loss of Loved Ones, Madness, Mistaken Jealousy, Murderous Adultery, Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones, Obstacles to Love, Obtaining, Pursuit, Recovery of a Lost One, Supplication, Remorse, Revolt, Rivalry of Kinsmen, Rivalry of Superior and Inferior, Self-Sacrificing for an Ideal, Self-Sacrifice for Kindred, and Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred.
These are all just variations or combinations of the Five Elements. Genres of literature are also just forms of the Five Elements. Literature can be written either as poetry (Yin) or prose (Yang). It can then be composed into novels, epics, short stories, comedies and tragedies (including plays) or other creative non-fictional work. Again these forms are just combinations of Yin and Yang or the Five Elements—Elements that are all components of one whole or family. The similarity between literatures among different cultures, sometimes mistaken for plagiarism, may have actually been independently thought of due to the universality of archetypes.
For instance, Greek Biblical literature describes Jesus as being visited by Magi, converting water into wine, performing miracles, dying on a cross, resurrecting after three days, and then ascending to heaven. These are similar acts performed by earlier deities in the area, including Greece, Rome, Persia and the Middle East. Bacchus also converted water into wine. Dionysus was hung on a tree. Mithras died and resurrected after three days. And many gods in the ancient world, of course, ascend to heaven after mingling with mortals. Joseph Campbell, in his book, The Power of Myth, sees similarities among world myths and hero motifs, and while some of them do borrow material from each other, other similarities are probably due to the universality of archetypes.
In the end, all the literature in the world is connected through a great universal web. They are all elements or forms that are components of one great whole; they speak of the same thing—that we all need each other to survive. Conflict leads to suffering, but harmony brings forth peace, prosperity and happiness. People are all children of the stars, dreaming, hoping and praying that all their wishes come true. Works Cited Campbell, Joseph and Bill D. Moyers (interviewer). The Power of Myth. New York: Anchor Books, 1991. Foster-Harris. The Basic Patterns of Plot. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959. Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice. New York: Ecco, 2004. Polti, Georges.
The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations. Minneapolis: Filiquarian Publishing, 1916. Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Bantam Classics, 1984. Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York, Scribner, 1886. St. Michael, Rodney. Illuminati: Healing and Developing the Mind. Lincoln: iUniverse, 2003. St. Michael, Rodney. Little Voices: A True Paranoid Schizophrenic Adventure. Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2000. St. Michael, Rodney. Sync My World: A Sea & Nautical Map to Relative Peace. Raleigh: Lulu, 2003. St. Michael, Rodney. Sync My World: Thief’s Honor GA SK. Raleigh: Lulu, 2009. Tobias, Ronald B. 20 Master Plots. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 1993.