The Integral Storycreator: Using Integral Methodological Pluralism to Create Fictional, Narrative Prose

Michael OrnstAesthetic, Art & Creativity, Cognitive, Creative, Integrative Metatheory, Journal of Integral Theory & Practice

The intention of this paper is to explore using Integral Methodological Pluralism (IMP) to construct a fictional, narrative story as part of a greater consideration into using the distinctions of Integral Theory in creating any kind of story or character driven work of art. The key component is using the mixed method information, especially the developmental knowledge, in combination with one’s own experience to make up the personality content of the characters and the moments of decision, discovery, and tension of the story; making sure to touch all the dimensions of the character’s life and the story’s world. The paper begins by discussing how and why IMP works for story creation, moving into a story I wrote using it. The second half of the paper is an in depth look at the process of locating and utilizing information and knowledge to craft the story, the characters and the relationships.

Summary of Integral Methodological Pluralism

Integral Methodological Pluralism (IMP) is the name of a set of social practices that correspond to the AQAL model, as set forth by Ken Wilber. IMP takes the practice of using the AQAL framework to a deeper and more complete level by creating a “respectful compilation, without judgment, of the major methodologies for enacting, illuminating, and bringing forth various worldspaces or ways of being-in-the-world.” AQAL is short for “all-quadrants, all-levels” and is a metatheory that attempts to unite the most time honored methodologies and their experiences into a concise and practical framework. “All-quadrants” refer to the four aspects in which reality or any one thing or holon (a whole/part) happens. The four quadrants correspond to the interior and exterior of the individual and the collective and encompass perspectives such as first person, second person, and third-person, or “I,” “You/We,” and “It/s,” respectively. “All-levels” refer to the levels, stages, or structures of development any one thing or holon evolves through. Moreover, each quadrant is a realm made up of two zones of perspectives, the inside and outside, totaling eight zones. Within this eight-zone framework are modes of inquiry that illuminate the inside, first-person, experienced perspectives of the quadrant as well as the outside, third-person, structural perspectives of the quadrant, generally speaking. In considering and thus honoring the most number of perspectives possible, the methods and experiences of each zone manifest a more complete and less partial view of a situation, event, or being.

Integral Methodological Pluralism is also guided by three principles: nonexclusion, unfoldment, and enactment. These principles are based on the belief that “‘Everybody is right,’ which generates a meta-practice of honoring, including, and integrating the fundamental paradigms and methodologies of the major forms of human inquiry.” In other words, an analysis employing IMP as a method of discovering truth works to not exclude (nonexclusion) any valid practice, mode of inquiry, or zone while then including into its fabric the resulting worldspaces, phenomena, or information in order to offer deeper and wider truths (unfoldment). This involves an analysis that directly understands and “brings forth” each worldspace perspective (enactment).

A storycreator informed by the methodologies or modes of inquiry found by IMP and following the principles of nonexclusion, unfoldment, and enactment can create characters, events, and relationships containing the most “truth to life.” These stories can be a powerful tool in understanding and connecting the endless sea of perspectives and therefore be deeply significant to the reader or viewer.

Purpose of the Story and Why IMP Works for It

“Stories are equipment for living” and living is an evolving transcension and inclusion of perspectives.4 As writers or storycreators pushing into Second Tier, we owe it to ourselves, our characters, and our readers to discover the most complete and true equipment we can. Second Tier is different from First Tier in that one has grown into a mind that can see more, hold more, and connect more aspects, insight, and perspectives (i.e., more complexity). In this awareness of growth lies a desire to continue transcending and including and a motivation to include the translative health and transformative potential of our fellow beings. By being aware of widening networks of connection between perspectives, a Second-Tier storycreator is in the unique position of nudging the reader into translative changes towards health or a legitimation crisis. Integral Theory and IMP provide the most complete framework and process that maximize success to those ends. Reconstructive science presented by the methodologies of the eight perspectives provides the constructive story elements that inform the natures, behaviors, tensions, and social backdrops of the characters and relationships. Located within those story elements are various worldspaces, levels of development, pathologies, and truths connecting the reader directly to the realities of daily life. Making sure to use nonexclusion, unfoldment, and enactment in the mechanics of constructing story offers the least judgmental and most palatable way of increasing the likelihood that the reader will find a sense of themselves in the work.

Storycreators must accept that all perspectives from every character or entity in the story are at least partially right or not completely wrong. While the need for conflict in the story most definitely can come from the intrusion of judgment from one practice or paradigm or –ism on another, the storycreator must reserve judgment and remember how right each practice is for that level or worldspace. Awareness is key to ensure the fair nonexclusion of all perspectives. Yet the storycreator has to be aware of and comfortable with where healthy worldviews end and pathological worldviews begin so as to manifest genuine authentic and inauthentic relationships between a character and their own self as well as between characters. This intersection is where the depth of a character or relationship is revealed and is one of the most fascinating aspects of a story. A storycreator informed by research located in each zone can construct events, characters, and relationships based on actual human issues and traumas and make them visible to the reader by remembering nonexclusion and unfoldment.

The process of enactment gives the storycreator a way to look inside themselves and create a story, character, and relationships that draw on their own experience and increase the “truth to life” that affects the reader in cognitive, emotional, and spiritual ways. When a writer sees phenomena illuminated by a mode of inquiry and strives to understand that perspective, the writer can work the phenomena into the fabric of the story in an effective way. When storycreators deeply understand phenomena, they connect with their selves and learn something about their experience, which gives writers a unique and illuminating look at their own life. It is from here that a writer can create a story that is illuminating to the reader in the way it presents both objective truth and subjective feeling about humans and relationships, thereby creating authentic story tension and the ability to affect.

Moreover, writers want their readers to feel safe to see themselves or aspects of their own perspectives represented in the experiences portrayed. By understanding the major modes of discovering truth, a writer can include a representation of inquiry, research, and discovery into a character’s own self, relationships, and world. Proper enactment on the part of the storycreator ensures the audience recognizes their subject and sees themselves as an object with a sacred place in the scheme of life and development. Thus the readers may be inspired by the story- created lessons available to them.


About Michael Ornst

MICHAEL ORNST specializes in assisting CEOs and media-makers in developing and producing integral content that appeals across levels. He sits on the Board of Directors for Lick the Lid Institute. As a visiting guest lecturer to film schools he teaches his lecture series “The Integral Filmmaker.” He is currently in script development for film and integral episodic TV. Michael lives in Boulder, Colorado with his long time partner and their son.