Why Polarity Reversal?



I’m Japhet.  Welcome to Polarity Reversal Limited.

Polarity Reversal is the vehicle through which I create my own IP and provide editorial, creative and strategic counsel to others.  I love storytelling and connecting stories with audiences, and in particular I love trying out new ways of telling stories and making those connections.  Sometimes, that’s taken me to places in narrative where few have gone before – across genres, platforms, techniques, technologies and audiences. It’s quite an adventure!

Why Polarity Reversal?  As a kid, I was a fan of the original ‘Star Trek’ of James Kirk and Mister Spock.  Every time disaster really loomed for the Enterprise and it was clear the story was heading for a nasty ending, one of the crew, usually Scottie the intrepid engineer, would propose a solution of last resort: “What if we reverse the polarities?”

It was the standby deus ex machina narrative device for saving the day.  But to me, it stood for more than that.  It meant trying something daring, untested, scary mad science, but with huge potential reward.  It meant taking a creative leap of faith. 

As I’ve gained experience in storytelling, reversing the polarities has come to stand for something else too.  It means using all the tools at your disposal, planning how they can work for your project, while being humble enough to know that you might still fail.  And if you do, you can always reverse the polarities, throw away your assumptions, and find the kernels in failure, often new tools – that can seed success when you try again.

This skill set is more critical than ever before.  We build storyworlds now, not just stories, and we deliver content from our storyworld to endless touch points where audiences experience it.  But Context changes Content – look at Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup can, if you don’t believe me — and so does the Consumer, so you need to make your narrative choices within a matrix of forces that will change their meaning.  More of this matrix in another blog post!

Over almost 40 years of working across narratives, brands, genres, technologies and platforms, I have come to rely on reversing the polarities as a fundamental motto to live by.  Let’s try seeing things differently, turn our story on its head and ask a new set of questions.  Let’s risk for creative reward.  Let’s try something new.

So if you need help in looking at new possibilities, gaining a fresh perspective, engaging with new ways of telling stories – whether format or platform or technology driven – you’re in the right place.

It’s true that there is comfort and value in the familiar.  As they say, use what works.  So you need to use the lessons of narrative development and audience connection learned over centuries of human interaction.   But sometimes you need to reverse the polarities and take your characters, narrative and audience, to paraphrase Captain Kirk one more time, where no story has gone before….