An Exploration of Extroverted Intuition

There are two versions of this post. This one mainly focuses on aspects of the nature of extrovert intuition which is a function of ENFP, INFP, ENTP and INTP according to the Myers-Briggs Types Index. The other post is more functional and says many of the same things, but is looked at in conjunction with an exploration of introverted intuition. This post is more fun and will explore extroverted intuition via a detour into Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film Solaris, and the first season of Hannibal (2013) which I’ve recently started rewatching.

Time is a perception, a way of organizing and understanding through units that divide and compile the universe into sometimes arbitrary formations. Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky explored temporality in a manner not unlike Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark who, just moments after seeing his father’s ghost and realizing the earthly and spatial planes are not aligned, observed, “time is out of joint”. Given the perceptive nature of time and its relation to space in cinema, more than merely time is out of joint in film; the spatiotemporal form remains displaced, illusory, assembled through the filmmaking process of image-making and editing.

Hannibal is a fascinating TV show and other than borrowing the names of characters and some tropes, it bares far less practical resemblance to much of the subject it borrows from than you might expect. I am happy with this. I can’t actually think of anything worse than trying to redo ‘classics.’ Bryan Fuller decides to inhabit the space Hannibal exists in, and tell a completely different story with different characterisations, even if most the names within this space stay the same. Curiously this isn’t something he does with American Gods which would also be interesting to look at, but I’m happy to assume for the purposes of this that American Gods by Neil Gaiman (INFP) is told through the lens of Shadow Moon (INFP) so for Fuller, he has an easier relationship with the original text and therefore doesn’t have to take as many liberties with the source material to relate it to himself and subsequently tell the story he wants to tell. I’d go as far as postulating that, although I have never read a single Thomas Harris interview, (but a few books amounting to a few hundred thousand words which to varying degrees outline your interests, preferences, desires, hopes, dreams and what makes you tick is the next best thing) other than being aware that he is a novelist who has wrote a grand total of four novels in the past 37 years, and the last two appear to have came out of nothing more than pure pragmatism because they were going to make new Hannibal Lecter movies post Silence of the Lambs whether he’d wrote the source material or not, and due to the fact that his novels are vaguely surreal, deal in symbolism and intellectual games, it makes him by my reckoning, almost certainly an INTJ.

Fuller as an INFP (dominant function: introverted feeling, auxiliary function: extroverted intuition) opts to tell this story through Will Graham who appears at once doubly opposed to Hannibal (Just for those keeping score, Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is an INFJ whereas Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal in keeping with Harris’ source material is a cunning INTJ).  So from the outset, we have on one level, Hannibal as the creator in that he commits art murders, whereas Will, is the detective interpreting those murders and is therefore the critic. On the other hand, it is Will who is presented as the imaginative figure, whereas Hannibal is reduced to a responsive role, reinterpreting other people’s murders. Will Graham is a classic INFP. It doesn’t really come as much of surprise as characters in fiction will often be reflections of their creators. (As an aside,  for quite a while, I’ve wanted to do a blog with meta-readings on movies that people think are bad, as often the meta-readings will provide a really fascinating contextualisation to the movie. The Godfather Part 3 and its correlation with Francis Ford Coppola’s career being probably the ultimate example. Also going back to the previous proposition about the correlation between creators and their characters. Although Mario Puzo created The Godfather, Michael Corleone especially in The Godfather Part 3 is very much a reflection of Coppola. Literally to the point Michael Corleone’s daughter and sister are Francis Ford Coppola’s actual daughter Sofia Coppola and his sister Talia Shire.  I know little of Puzo. There is a parallel with Thomas Harris in that his involvement in the screenplay for The Godfather Part 3 came about out of pragmatism as the movie was being made, with or without him. Frankly however, there is a number of ways you could read into that.)

Fuller makes an interesting choice to position Will as on the autism spectrum. This is an interesting move with regards to his stated skill of empathy. In practice the show plays more than a little fast and loose with what exactly it is that Will does. As an INFP what Will obviously has is what most would call: extroverted intuition, so it’s interesting how Fuller chooses to frame this within the narrative. To serve the narrative however, it doesn’t actually serve much purpose to call it this, and we also have the conceit that: neuroatypical people are good at understanding other neuroatypical people, just as neurotypical people are good at understanding other neurotypical people, so we will go with empathy.

There is however an interesting oscillation between framing it as empathy and imagination. On the surface these are two very different things: empathy is perceptual, imagination creative. The division is readily healed by looking to William Blake on the subject of imagination. For William Blake, imagination is a faculty to be added to perception. It is the fact of man’s imagination that creates abstraction and order over the dead-eyed, vegetative world of nature. Imagination is thus more real than mere perception. It a higher order of the cosmos.

Or, to highlight James Joyce’s Ulysses and Stephen Dedalus’ theory of Hamlet, which I have also linked at the beginning of this blog:

Stephen mysticises the process of fatherhood and, as was commonly done by Renaissance writers, apparently makes the maternal link the only certainty:

Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession […] .Amor matris, subjective and objective genitive, may be the only true thing in life. (p.266)

The artist, however, has the power to ‘weave and unweave his image’. Artistic creativity/paternity is here presented as a kind of potential auto genesis:

When Rutlandbaconsouthamptonshakespeare or another poet of the same name in the comedy of errors wrote Hamlet he was not the father of his own son merely but, being no more a son, he was and felt himself the father of all his race… (p.267)

This is not the traditional kind of bardolatry but there is a belief in a somewhat transubstantiating power behind artistic creation. Here is a fantasy of redemption and freedom from both biological and metaphorical parental authority. Stephen makes Shakespeare ‘Himself his own father’ (p.267); by aligning himself with Shakespeare he reveals to us his own desire, and by implication Joyce’s, to be free of the fetters of origin. Stephen in Portrait declares: ‘When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.’ Ellmann highlights how focused Ulysses is on confronting issues of origin and paternity:

A theme of Ulysses, Joyce intimates, is reconciliation with the father…Insofar as the movement of the book is to bring Stephen, the young Joyce, into rapport with Bloom, the mature Joyce, the author becomes, it may be said, his own father.[27]

The crux of Stephen’s theory is that all art is autobiographical.

Within the context of Hannibal, this adds an unsettling light to what Will does. If the empathy that he brings to crime scenes is an act of imagination then the resulting sense of design must belong to Will, not the killers themselves. Will creates a higher structure out of the victims before him, and this structure proves more real and more powerful than the killing on its own. Going back to the nature of the show that Fuller has created, and Will and Hannibal’s relationship, on a basic level this can be read as a crude and obvious comment about the relationship between art and audiences, but it has many other implications that are both more interesting and more disturbing.

There is another interesting thing happening at the same time from not just an aesthetic standpoint. Hannibal has extremely distinctive establishing shots. These are as important as the richly saturated colour palette in creating its distinctive atmosphere. The time lapse establishing shots, with clouds whizzing overhead, frame what happens as taking place outside of time, in a fractured dreamscape. Fractured time is a recurring motif in the show, where it serves to indicate the blurring of internal and external landscapes.

Further to this, when you combine the particularly outlandish murders of the first season in conjunction with the gothic dreamscapes, it only serves to solidify the total unreality of the show. Simply put, this clearly isn’t happening in the real world. This will be something interesting to explore as the show progresses, Will’s empathy is stretched to breaking point and Will’s internal world begins to collapse.

Many of Tarkovsky’s characters and settings inhabit time, but they do so in dreamlike or even imagined landscapes that have no precise orientation within logical space, what for Deleuze might be represented by a “chronic non-chronological order”. Tarkovsky often wrote about the philosophies of Heraclitus or Arthur Schopenhauer in relation to time, though he did not adhere to a consistent time-philosophy for himself. What remains consistent in every Tarkovsky film is not a philosophy about time, but rather the profound treatment of time as a factor in both his formal and narrative approach, and his visual treatment of time in slow movements and pensive, unhurried shots. Tarkovsky also wrote extensively about time in texts like Sculpting in Time and Time Within Time, where he links, albeit without a steady application of his ideas, the notion of time and space “out of joint” but having a shared pattern or togetherness, associating such ideas through what has been described as “meaning-laden images whose meanings are elusive”. Whether he successfully or clearly communicates the potential metaphoric or symbolic meanings of his images remains the responsibility of the viewer to determine.

What did Schopenhauer say about dreams? I recently watched a show on Netflix called ‘The Power of Myth’ which is a series of discussions with the acclaimed mythologist Joseph Campbell. To quote Campbell:

“When you reach a certain age,” and he (Schopenhauer) wrote this when he was in his 60s or so, “and look back over your life, it seems to have had an order. It seems to have had been composed by someone. And those events that when they occurred seemed merely accidental and occasional and just something that happened, turn out to be the main elements in a consistent plot.” So he says, “Who composed this plot?” And he said, “And just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself, of which your consciousness is unaware, so your whole life has been composed by the will within you.” Then he says, “Just as those people whom you met by chance became effective agents in the structuring of your life, so you have been an agent in the structuring of other lives, and the whole thing gears together like one big symphony,” he says, “everything influencing and structuring everything else.” And he said, “It’s as though our lives were the dream of a single dreamer, in which all the dream characters are dreaming too, and so everything links to everything else, moved out of the will in nature.”

That’s a beautiful idea. It’s an idea that occurs in India, in the image of what’s called the “Nee of Indra” or the net of gems. Where it’s a net of gems where every gem reflects all the other ones. And they also have the idea of a spontaneous and simultaneous arising. Everything arises in relation to everything else, and so you can’t blame anybody for anything; it’s all working around. It’s a marvelous idea. It’s as though there were an intention behind it, and yet it all is by chance. None of us has lived the life that he intended.”

To take another detour, I can frequently become completely disconnected from my body, I’ve missed flights, I constantly day-dream, an ability to make order out of chaos doesn’t mean I’m organised. My friends are for the most part other n types. Genuinely, I much prefer other intuitive types for the unconscious sense of comfort, instant recognition and mutual understanding. There is something of an instant click. This may be sometimes the case for other intuitive types too. I recall an INFP friend who had been off work for some time actually insist that she be not separated from me at work on the basis I was the only one who got her. I basically spent most of my twenties pondering the dynamics of social interaction, yet still, any friendship or relationship I might have is determined by any one of three factors: I stumble across another n type and there’s an instant click and sense of mutual recognition. A determined ENFP folllows me around long enough that I effectively give in and accept we’re in a relationship. This is effectively what happened with my ex, this was a person who despite the incessant red flags would ring me constantly and literally invent drama as a means for having a conversation. This included claims prior to us even meeting such as ‘I’ve been arrested.’ It doesn’t exactly take a genius to figure out this was absolutely fucking flagrant bullshit, and you wouldn’t be ringing someone off a mobile if you were under police custody, followed around half-an-hour later by, ‘The Garda have released me.’ I mean, anyone in their sound mind would have distanced themselves from someone like this, but that rather discounts that an intuitive such as my ex could basically have me smitten by giving me a constant stream of problems to solve (even though we both knew most of these were actually fucking fictitious) along with a predilection for having lots of sex. I’m a person who generally speaking solves the proverbial rubix cube pretty quickly, so there’s something both depressing and intriguing that my own ‘rubix cube’ was, ‘make up problems for this person to thrive on solving’ and ‘he really likes sex.’ There’s something of a generalisation about ENFP’s  that they’re air-heads. Personally, I’ve found on multiple occasions that this is generalising, while on one level true, really does them a grave injustice. I’ve often found myself in relationships with this type where I would actually consider myself vastly more intelligent than they are. What this discounts is that this type has a powerful extroverted intuition and you’re left with the sense that while on paper you might be more intelligent, this is a type that at their best seems to innately and instinctively know all of the important things in life. At their most turbulent, although they possess extroverted intuition as their primary function, their are similarities with Jung’s description.

Stephen says bitterly, “It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked lookingglass of a servant.”

Sometimes through the cracked lookingglass you see reflections of yourself. Through the cracks there is a mutual recognition. Here was a person who would muddle through life, who was absolutely terrible with money and possessed little to no sense of organisation, with only what appeared to be miraculous good fortune protecting her life from becoming absolute chaos at every turn. Possibly the most acute depiction I’ve seen of this is in the Netflix show based on Douglas Adams’ ‘Dirk Gently‘ (in keeping with earlier in the blog, click the link just for fun) about a “holistic detective” (ENTP in the book although in the show, Samuel Barnett’s actual portrayal is actually far closer to being a re-enactment of Matt Smith’s varicoloured version of Doctor Who (ENFP) than being reverential to the source material) who makes use of “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things” to solve the whole crime, and find the whole person. The characters are imbued with such a sense of randomness, that for a show that at its core is a mock up of a detective show, you’re less concerned with the nature of the ‘crime’ as you are just bewildered that the characters actually somehow manage to not die (I mean I should clarify here that there is a fundamental difference between ENTP’s and ENFP’s of whom we are in the midst of addressing. They are similar enough as to be in the same neighbourhood, but different enough as to be two contrasting architectural styles. Douglas Adams was an ENTP as were his characters: Dirk Gently and Zaphod from HHGTTG, and there’s something to be said for the fact that a big theme through Douglas Adams’ work is that his idea of hell is petty bureaucracy. So yes, there is a big difference between an ENTP and an ENFP). Undoubtedly every flag indicated this would be a deeply unhealthy relationship. Every single aspect of this woman’s life was dictated by what most people would observe to be complete randomness of chance. I first saw her on a dating website. Having been on this particular website for a number of years and having observed the kinds of people who gravitate to this particular dating website, or at least through my own bias the people I mostly notice, this woman is not the kind of person I would have expected to find on it, let alone send a message to. The only reason I actually did was because I thought her eyes had quite a startling resemblance to another woman I had previously dated. This is generally speaking not remotely how I choose potential mates. Of all the dating websites in the world, like all things in her life, there is no reason I can possibly discern as to why she would have been on this particular one, other than absolute chance. I often pondered how she had actually found that website. In the entire time I knew her, I can scarcely recall a time she even looked at the internet. Her haunts onto eBay and other websites I do recall were like almost everything else in her life. Chaotic, haphazard and usually ending up in some kind of unusual drama. Buying a template to make a dress instead of the dress she actually thought she was buying. Or buying things that she could barely afford which would turn out not to work, or where the novelty value would quickly wear off. I recall her spending months trying to claim a refund for a broken violin that turned to have been imported from China. Hers was an all consuming passion. She was a nurse. She would ring me when she woke up. She would go to work. She would ring me on her break. She would go back to work. She would ring me on her lunch. She would go back to work. She would go home and ring me again. She would go and sit with her family. Or visit her aunt or cousins or her friends. Her whole waking life was consumed by constant interaction with people. She wasn’t the type of person who would actually stop and think. I could never imagine how she had ever found it. She wasn’t someone who looked for the answers to her life’s questions in Google: How do I get out of debt? How do I use eBay properly? How do I stop getting pulled into disciplinary meetings at work? Or, how do I find a boyfriend? Where do I find a boyfriend? First you’d actually have to stop to actually ask yourself something akin to these kinds of questions. She never did. She was a person who was oddly compelling. From a rational perspective the most remarkable aspect was that she somehow managed to maintain anything vaguely resembling a functioning life at all. Jung said:

This attitude has immense dangers — all too easily the intuitive may squander his life. He spends himself animating men and things, spreading around him an abundance of life — a life, however, which others live, not he. Were he able to rest with the actual thing, he would gather the fruit of his labours; yet all too soon must he be running after some fresh possibility, quitting his newly planted field, while others reap the harvest. In the end he goes empty away. But when the intuitive lets things reach such a pitch, he also has the unconscious against him. The unconscious of the intuitive has a certain similarity with that of the sensation-type. Thinking and feeling, being relatively repressed, produce infantile and archaic thoughts and feelings in the unconscious, which may be compared with those of the countertype. They likewise come to the surface in the form of intensive projections, and are just as absurd as those of the sensation-type, only to my mind they lack the other’s mystical character; they are chiefly concerned with quasi-actual things, in the nature of sexual, financial, and other hazards, as, for instance, suspicions of approaching illness. This difference appears to be due to a repression of the sensations of actual things. These latter usually command attention in the shape of a sudden entanglement with a most unsuitable woman, or, in the case of a woman, with a thoroughly unsuitable man; and this is simply the result of their unwitting contact with the sphere of archaic sensations. But its consequence is an unconsciously compelling tie to an object of incontestable futility. Such an event is already a compulsive symptom, which is also thoroughly characteristic of this type. In common with the sensation-type, he claims a similar freedom and exemption from all restraint, since he suffers no submission of his decisions to rational judgment, relying entirely upon the perception of chance, possibilities. He rids himself of the restrictions of reason, only to fall a victim to unconscious neurotic compulsions in the form of oversubtle, negative reasoning, hair-splitting dialectics, and a compulsive tie to the sensation of the object. His conscious attitude, both to the sensation and the sensed object, is one of sovereign superiority and disregard. Not that he means to be inconsiderate or superior — he simply does not see the object that everyone else sees; his oblivion is similar to that of the sensation-type — only, with the latter, the soul of the object is missed. For this oblivion the object sooner or later takes revenge in the form of hypochondriacal, compulsive ideas, phobias, and every imaginable kind of absurd bodily sensation.

The last time I saw her was not long after she’d returned to Ireland she was admitted to the CUH in Cork. She asked me to come see her. I did because it seemed the right thing to do. I took a flight over to Dublin and got the night bus up-to Cork from the airport. I arrived in the early hours and stayed the night with her. In the morning her cousin – the only member of her family to actually visit her – turned up and berated me. I left and went to check into the hotel. She phoned me and said to come to the hotel and stay with her again that night. I did. We walked from the ward to the chapel. I said to her that I didn’t think churches or chapels were necessary. If God is everywhere, why then do people confine God to lone, insular spaces and then act as if God doesn’t exist once they have left those spaces? She said this was a wise outlook but there is still a comfort to be found amongst other people, in these small spaces, secluded from the rest of the world. I stayed until morning and never saw her again.

Solaris exists on several spatial, temporal, and fantastic levels at once and, as Bould notes, while watching the film, it becomes “less important (or possible) to distinguish reality from imagination than to manage the various levels of memory or fantasy.” Tarkovsky uses images to transcend space and time, to render the elusive connection between the human mind and an alien planet whose consciousness invades the film’s characters. 

Deleuze believes that only lesser films contain time-images set only in the present; superior films employ time-images that exist on multiple planes at once, representing a convergence of past, present, and future in a single shot. From Kelvin’s memories to the manifestations of the alien planet, much of Solaris dwells in the boundless, unconscious, and otherworldly spaces that Deleuze yearns to see, often representing them in both formal and metaphorical terms that enable equally boundless contemplation.

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