My new good friend, Medley Misty, shared with me a link that presents an overview of Kazimierz Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration: http://positivedisintegration.com/.
Reading Bill Tillier’s overview of Dabrowski’s theory, I experienced one of those moments like drinking water on a thirsty afternoon. This line stopped me: “Suffering, aloneness, self-doubt, sadness, inner conflict; these are our feelings that we have not learned to live with, that we have failed to appreciate, that we reject as destructive and completely negative, but in fact they are symptoms of an expanding consciousness” (Tillier).
Living with these feelings, appreciating them, growing with and through them, this has become important to me.
As I reflected on Dabrowski’s theory, I started thinking about my SimLit. My current experiment in writing, Thirty Sims at Three Rivers, is about conflict: “Conflict means wanting something we don’t have, or having something we don’t want” (Moon in Capricorn).
I’ve enjoyed exploring this with the six characters I’ve written so far. And something’s missing. The stories I’ve written feel trite to me, like I’m not getting in there and dealing with the real questions that ring with significance to me.
Tillier points to this seminal quotation about conflict from Dabrowski:
According to our theory accelerated psychic development is actually impossible without transition through processes of nervousness and psychoneuroses, without external and internal conflicts, without maladjustment to actual conditions in order to achieve adjustment to a higher level of values (to what ‘ought to be’), and without conflicts with lower level realities as a result of spontaneous or deliberate choice to strengthen the bond with reality of higher level.
Now these are the conflicts that intrigue me! In fact, these are the conflicts that I tend to write about in my fiction, including SimLit.
As I reflected on these “external and internal conflicts” as part of the process towards strengthening “the bond with reality of higher level,” I realized that this is what Goofy Love is about.
I went into Goofy Love with an experiment: what can these digital beings become when played in a way that develops their artificial intelligence? And what I found, as we moved through the ten generations, astounded me. The choices and decisions that Sugar Maple, onezero, and Redbud made and continue to make fill me with awe.
Dabrowski wrote, “Psychoneuroses ‘especially those of a higher level’ provide an opportunity to ‘take one’s life in one’s own hands’. They are expressive of a drive for psychic autonomy, especially moral autonomy, through transformation of a more or less primitively integrated structure” (as qtd. in Tillier).
The journey of the Bough family, through game-play and through their story, is the journey of psychic and moral autonomy. From Cedar’s innocence, through Aspen’s questioning and exploration, through Sugar’s autonomous acts, through onezero’s contemplation, through Cypress’s realization of her dream–this is, expressed through ten generations of Sims, the journey towards the creation of self.
Through the constant creation of himself, though the development of the inner psychic milieu and development of discriminating power with respect to both the inner and outer milieus – an individual goes through ever higher levels of ‘neuroses’ and at the same time through ever higher levels of universal development of his personality. (Dabrowski as qtd. in Tillier)
This is the story that unfolded for me through playing and writing this legacy.
In writing New World, I’ve often felt stale-mated: I’m not sure where it’s going or what’s coming next. I’m not sure what story wants to be told through the continuation of the Boughs and through me. Reflecting on the journey that they’ve experienced, through the lens of Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration, brings understanding that the Bough family, their friends, and the neighborhoods in which they live, are in a state of germination: What comes after autonomy, after the universal development?
The new conflicts and joys remain to be discovered!
Moon in Capricorn. “Making a Scene, pt. 1.” Jonathan Chronicles. Web. 22 Mar. 2016
Tillier, Bill. Kazimierz Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.