Tag Archives: heraclitus

Thinking of Heraclitus and Writing

Introduction
I admit that I don’t know as much about Heraclitus as I should. And that is true for many others as well. His thoughts are simplified too often into meme-ready messages about the “only constant is change” and “no one steps into the same river twice.” But as an author of many of rules as life now accepted as common wisdom, there is much more to explore herein. Particularly as a source for inspiration for writers.

Writing Opportunity #1: Static and Dynamics
Each entity have components that do not change, change slowly, or change quickly. Stories and character transitions go together hand in hand. Events weave in and out with flash forwards and flashbacks, intentions and impulsive reactions. Or providing a look at a stagnant past, present. or future to define a character and further a plot.

Changes may include variations and cycles of gain and loss. These are covered in the Seven Basic Plots which cover supposedly all possible stories.

Showing these changes too quickly or a non-sequential order may confuse things. So you need a bridge of the static, unchanging aspects to reassure the reader before contrasting and evolving into the new normal, the ever-changing dynamic scenario. And Heraclitus observed the static and dynamic components co-existing together in a river. And that leads to the next Logos or Universal Law of his.

Writing Opportunity #2: Change Fueled by Contradiction.
Each object contains two opposing versions. One that changes over time and one does not. These may contradict and attempt to overtake each other.

Each day, we see contradictions and opposites all around us. One family may experience a new family member while another mourns a loss in silence. A factory may have a company picnic one week and layoffs the next. And on it goes. A country, a continent, a world, a galaxy, is a collective whole filled with opposing events, feelings, and thoughts.

Contradictions and opposing viewpoints make for great plot devices. Especially between or more characters within sociological, political`, or societal frameworks. Ken Wilbur talks about Integral Theory into which humans are multi-dimensional which are just filled with nothing but different levels of developments. So, you can be righteous in most areas but evil in another. This hiding and revealing of our multiple selves can add tension to a tale.

In the end
As an exercise, please consider exploring the ideas of old and new philosophical greats for writing inspiration. The podcast Philosophize This! can be a great help in understanding key points of these thinkers in a short period of time. As well as being great entertainment.

thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the image.