Quotius: A Hand-held Eureka

Today I’m doing something a little different. I’m introducing a whole new feature on this blog. I confess I’m not entirely sure what this will become but it has the makings of an interesting experiment so let’s see what happens.

Here’s the deal.

Ever hear or see something that is presented to you one way and then, later on, you discover that it makes just as much sense when read the other way? In the English language words and phrases that can be read forward or backward like that are called “palindromes”.

For example “Madam, I’m Adam” is a well known palindrome. True palindromes are quite rare though so for my purposes I’ll taking a fair bit of  license with it by merely using statements that are palindrome-like. In other words, they won’t be actual palindromes at all in most cases so don’t rag on me if you notice the violation of the laws of palindroming. Please don’t get in a knot about my taking yardage here. No need to call the palindrome hot- line nor file a report with the palindrome police. Okay?

Great. Thank you.

Of course there is an underground lesson here. Let me reveal it for you.

What I’ve done here is created something that uses my favorite metaphor for duality: the mobius strip. I’ve re-purposed it making it into something that it’s never been before.

I call it the “quotius”. It’s a catchy mashup of the words “quote” and “mobius”. The idea here is to dream-up or find some interesting two-part statements that could be split into two sections that can each be read as stand-alone statements. Then I’ll print them on each side of a strip of paper two inches wide (maximum width) and up to fourteen inches long. First half on side one and the other half on side two.

When the paper is joined together at each end forming a circular shape only the words of the first half of the statement on the outside of the band are read easily. They make sense but they are not quite complete. Meanwhile the ones on the inside of the band are, from this vantage point, appearing upside down.

Looking at this construct is intended to be like looking at a problem before the moment of insight. An answer just doesn’t “come to us”. It’s a bit like hearing a part of joke then not being given the punch line. It creates a bit of stress because it leaves us missing something we have a need for: closure.

Anyone would feel at least a little frustrated by that.

Escape that shape!

The next configuration is different though as you’ll see in the video. When the band is taken apart and re-assembled, this time with that little twist in it,  the classic mobius strip is formed. We can now go ahead and read the whole message in its entirety by continuing to scroll the band around until the place where the end becomes the beginning.

Now we see that the entire statement is on the same side of the strip! This plays on the fact that a mobius strip is a strange construct because it only has one side. (Only has one edge too but who’s keeping track of all this weirdness?)

I use this bit of strangeness to act as a three-dimensional  model for what a “eureka-moment” might look like if you could hold it in your hand. It represents seeing the moment of enlightenment at close range.

We “get” the joke or the sarcasm or whatever. We hear ourselves say “Now I get it!” The problem that once stumped us is now solved and it’s all because our perception of the whole thing has changed from a circular system to a reciprocal system.

The Takeaway:

The takeaway here is to create a unique learning experience with a bit of fascination thrown in. I’m a visual guy. As a designer I made things that had a particular shape and form to them. Years ago, when I started to look at personal development, I wondered if thinking and believing also had a particular shape to it.

Eventually I realized that it’s the system of  “alternative self-believership”  that has a shape to it not the belief itself. Beliefs, as we all know, can become part our thinking if presented with the power of a well stated argument. But these are not authentically ours. They are only surfacey belief systems and can be eroded away by another competing argument.

Not good.

To make self-belief real we need hard factual evidence.  Forming the quotius into a band the shape of a doughnut indicates a thinking system that is limiting. We aren’t able to get past a certain point because the information comes to us but then ends. It’s a lot like having a self-belief that recognizes limits and then settles for less.

Yikes! Who wants that?

When formed properly (into a mobius) by twisting one end 180 degrees before joining it we now get the entire story. We get an endlessly expanded self-belief because now the information is  – not just coming to us – but is coming through us.

In this quote by Henri Bergson the first part… “Act like a man of thought,” is clearly seen and understood. But not until we make a critical change in the structure of the band do we get the whole message presented to us on a single plane…

“think like a man of action.”

There is “education” which typically is very head-based and linear. Then there is “experience” which requires action-orientated from-the-gut decision making. We need both but they must be naturally integrated.

The quotius demos this dual reality beautifully wouldn’t you say?

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Do you have any good quotes that will fit this type of application? Please leave me your comments in the space below. I’ll give you a shout-out if I use it.

Would you like to make one of these for yourself? Go ahead. Download the instruction sheet and the master repro art in either letter size or legal size. It’s yours free. If you can’t be bothered messing around with trying to print out this strange two-sided sheet I’ll send you a pre-printed version right to your door. Learn more here.

More power to you.

David's signature in look-like handwriting

PS: I intend to put together a new version every Friday. If you’d like to be alerted to the next posting you can subscribe here. (In fact, I’d love you to do that!)

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