“A model is a lie that helps you see the truth” – H. Skipper

“A model is a lie that helps you see the truth” is a quote by Howard Skipper, an American doctor.

Here I try to extend this pattern, replacing “model” by cousin ideas : “pattern”, “structure”, “map”, etc.

So what? A “model” is not the real world, it’s a construction made to help us to understand the real world.

A MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY, right? A map is a LIE, it doesn’t give you changes, colors, moods, light, temperature and life. But it’s a useful, thought, for a purpose…

You can be very serious while modeling things (in Science) and an architect will build models (in cardboard or on computers), but you can also be a little casual “just to see what you’ll see”.

For example you can see each of these things : a school, a couple, or a battle, as : a machine, a living creature, a computer, a kingdom or a business company. If you “apply” your model, you’ll rule out something, but you’ll find interesting things too. Then, trash the model. Because it’s a LIE, of course!

A model is a construction made to help us to understand the real world.

It can be using a structure and also “a way to explain how it works”, moves and evolves. Let’s use the model of “a business company” to study “a married couple”. Who’s the CEO, how does the money flow, what are the goals, etc…

It can be more like a skeleton, a complex map of “what it is”, or a single archetypal word :

  • Mauss studied suicide or gift and made entire books about these. A way to search for “what is common”, the “fundamental characteristics”.
  • Simmel studied the bridge : it links two territories, it is a territory itself, it “shows itself” as a bridge, and it is a “will of connection” (over a river, for example).

Yes, this leads to Archetypes (Jung)

a statement, pattern of behavior, or prototype (model) which other statements, patterns of behavior, and objects copy or emulate

To Forms in philosophy (Plato)

pure forms which embody the fundamental characteristics of a thing in Platonism

and to the most precious diamond : the Symbol.

a symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different concepts and experiences.

(All quotes from Wikipedia – I bolded some words)

Questions :

Who’s right? Skipper who uses the word “lie”, or Plato and Jung who seem to seek a “pure form”? Is all this a search for a link, common aspects in different things, or are these just tools to explore a concept , moving aside difficulties and details? Are you more interested in details, or structures? Why do we say that there are only a few ways to tell a story (Google : Seven Basic Plots)? What are the “order” games like MBTI, Zodiac or Enneagrams? Is a symbol the tiniest and more radioactive possible model?

Let’s say you’re introvert, fast, jealous, a father, a murderer or a valet. Is it a lie, because it’s true but way too simple (and a label on your face) – then you list the subtilities, the movements, the reasons, etc -, or is it a funny truth which could lead you to make decisions, or find other archetypes to think about?

You can also read : Ecceity

Yeahh, overthinking, I know…

Thanks for reading!





Arthur Rimbaud & Glenn Gould : The “Big Less” Temptation

Rimbaud was a French poet who had a huge influence on Arts and Literature, but stopped writing at 21. He became a merchant, mostly in Africa (in coffee trading, for example!), and died at 37.

Gould was a Canadian pianist who stopped giving concerts at the age of 31 and became an eccentric hermit in recording studios.

Different destinies, but a similar pattern : at one moment, they stopped completely something they succeeding in, they closed a door.

Rimbaud stopped writing. Many wondered why : The artist had said everything? He wanted to explore another face of his personality? He had a secret wound? Dead wordsourcespring?
Gould didn’t stop making music, but never came back playing in concert, and he explained himself about that.

I write this because I wonder if sometimes we should consider a similar flip. A combination of levers & dials, studying what’s good in our life, considering that insisting (even in different ways) could be, from now, a failure : it’s maybe time for a closure?…


The Big Less is about considering to close a part of you which… works. Why would you do that, like “I park it”? Why would you stop what works? You feel you miss something? It’s too easy? You reached a plateau? I works but the wrong way? You lost a goal? You need to experiment to enrich? Fresh air? You need to get smaller to go faster? A fresh start to go elsewhere? You’re afraid of some ticking-over routine? Is it a bad idea? Why?

And who knows what will happen after some years? Maybe you’ll realize you needed the big disturbance of it? Maybe a bigger room will open? A secret path will appear? Maybe you’ll make good Bach records, or trade coffee?

Have a nice day!


Ears & Belly Button : The Roots of STRESS

You are stressed, that’s awful, because of your job, your family, your manager, something you read, anything. Stress! Help!

One day you are so stressed out that you begin to search the entrance. I mean… If you are stressed, the stress probably enters, penetrates, comes INTO you, right?

By the ears? Nope. Your belly button, maybe? Nahhhh!…

How does it work?

Well… It works. Until you realize :

YOU make stress. Your own BRAIN builds, makes, produces, manufactures stress.

Bummer and crap!

Happily, the day you understand that you become a Master Zen.

A stressful phrase, guy, situtation or event appears in front of you, and, how magic! : you don’t secrete stress, you just DON’T.

(well, you can stress if the werewolf is chasing you in the night, Okey)

You could swallow this little quote from Krishnamurti, then :


This is a good secret.

Things appears, shit happens (or hits the fan, as you say, I like this joyful idiom), people around you are NOT steady, they are alive and surprising. Watch, don’t stress, be calm, dance. Amor Fati!

Thanks for reading!

PS : You know what a werewolf is, right? So, as a French ESL, can I invent other “weres”? Like a weresheep or a wereswan, a weregrasshopper or a wereguineapig?