16 FALL 2015 PHI KAPPA PHI FORUM
modes of thought running simultaneously will
stimulate her unconscious, her intuition, her
emotions, her imagination, her intellect faster,
more deeply, more complexly than the present single-minded process. She will reach into
every conceivable area of human knowledge
because the myriad-mind is receptive to and
able to navigate among all realms of thinking.
She will be able to achieve not just a simple
solution, or a somewhat better general state of
mind, but a galaxy of possibilities that are at
once exciting and practical.
Beginning with the first completed stage —
achieving the ability of the mind to experience
two things simultaneously — myriad-minded-
ness may be applied in many ways. Problem
solving is, of course, the major goal, from the
individual realm to the realm of large group
endeavors. Myriad-mindedness enables the
problem solver to examine the full range of
possibilities, but in the act of exploration, one
deliberately brings into play possibilities that
seem to have no clear or direct application to
the problem. One of the most basic assump-
tions of myriad-mindedness is that traditional
approaches to problem solving, such as rele-
vance, simplification, focus and verification,
are less important at the outset than willing
and allowing the mind to explore at random
among the complexities of the seemingly cha-
otic and irrelevant.
Problem-solving in a myriad-minded way
would engage mind and body, all the senses,
all modes of experiences, including the mind
at play. Myriad-minded play may precede
myriad-minded problem-solving. To experience pure pleasure is one aim of applying
myriad-mindedness, and pleasure is an active
factor in all other applications, creative or utilitarian.
Among the practical benefits are:
■ The examination and possible solution of
■An understanding of self that promotes
better performance of one’s occupation or
■The identification and pursuit of new
realms of knowledge, new techniques of
learning for humankind.
■ The reconception and reorganization of institutions.
■Recreational benefits that have practical
Benefits to business:
■ Problem solving, including product development, refinement, reorganization.
Benefits to education:
■ The enrichment of necessary specializations and the dismantling of unnecessary
■ Faster and greater implementation of interdisciplinary studies.
■ New conceptions of the learning environment.
■ New approaches to and methods of learning.
Benefits to the military:
■ Early great advancement over other military
organizations through a restructuring of the
■ A greater understanding of and new conceptions of military strategy, tactics, and
Benefits to government:
■ An understanding of all governmental or-
ganization and functions throughout his-
tory, throughout the world, will enable the
government to operate more efficiently, per-
form services more immediately, raise and
collect taxes, propose and consider legisla-
tion, predict outcomes.
As for the benefits to the professions, each
profession will understand its own nature
and its not-yet-imagined possibilities more
deeply, how it interacts with other professions, how it functions in a complex cultural
The benefits are more obvious for the arts,
especially those that already achieve a measure of simultaneity, and others will expand
their range and make their potential reality
more readily and in ways not yet imagined.
The visual arts and fiction and poetry may
dramatize both concrete and visionary examples for non-artists.
Benefits to private individuals are that their
lives will become richer through the exercise
of myriad-mindedness; a deeper spirituality
will become possible. They may achieve a
sense of power, energy, self-realization and
The achievement of myriad-mindedness
will require a methodology, derived from all
disciplines — from the biologist’s understanding of the brain as an organ to the psychologist’s understanding of how the brain works
as it learns and thinks and what the brain’s
potential is with the aid of correlative changes in the functions of the computer. Those are
only a few ideal objectives of myriad-mindedness. Imagine Celeste’s great-great-grand-children achieving all of them.
Author’s note: In 1998, in the early stage of my
thinking, I discussed this project with Louisiana
State University’s cognitive scientist Robert C.
Mathews and computer scientist David Robins.
In 2008, I presented the idea, in a briefer, different
version, on a panel at a conference conducted by
Common Ground in Istanbul, Turkey, and made
David Madden (University of Tennessee)
has published many works in all
genres, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, plays,
literary criticism, Civil War history and
literary textbooks. His latest nonfiction,
The Tangled Web of the Civil War and
Reconstruction, appeared in August 2015;
his latest fiction is a book of stories,
The Last Bizarre Tale. His nine novels, each very different from
each other, include London Bridge in Plagues and Fire (UT Press,
2012), Abducted by Circumstance (UT Press, 2010), The Suicide’s
Wife (Bobbs-Merill, 1978), and Bijou (Brown, 1974). Well
underway is a memoir called My Intellectual Life in the Army.
He earned English degrees from UT (B.A.) and San Francisco
State University (M.A.), and attended Yale School of Drama
on a John Golden Fellowship. Founding Director of the United
States Civil War Center, he is Robert Penn Warren Professor of
Creative Writing Emeritus at Louisiana State University, where
he taught for 41 years. Go online to davidmadden.net or email
him at email@example.com.