from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Omnipotence.


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  • Omnivalence is the appreciation of nuance and the recognition that conflicting perspectives often add light and meaning. Where ambivalence is a state of indecision based on two opposed opinions, omnivalence embraces the paradox of the often all-too-real contradictions we experience in the world, and transcends the false dichotomies presented by inculcated dogmatic thinking.

    Contradictory feelings which we might be inclined to identify as conflictual ambivalence, are, on closer examination, something else. Such feelings seem to be experienced by creators not as ambivalent conflict, but as possibilities, potentials, mystery, openness. Omnivalence might be a better term, from the Latin omni, meaning "affects all things," and related to ops "wealth," plus valence or "strength." (Briggs & McCluskey, 1989). When omnivalence occurs there is an emotion-perception-cognition of a powerful, global wealth in the moment, a wealth in which there may be many different, even contrary, elements, each equally strong but all fundamentally indistinguishable from each other so that even the contrary elements are really a single effect eliciting an impression that somehow "all of it,"(omni) "the whole world," is in this moment. We might associate the creator's experience of omnivalence both with a feeling of multi-valence and omni-presence. It is similar in some ways to ambivalence but quite unlike it as well because in ambivalence the psyche is divided between two states of mind competing for dominance. In omnivalence there is only one encompassing state containing somehow many states overlapped and not in competition.

    Another facet of omnivalence, a window into its dynamics which I'd like to try to convey by introducing a somewhat fanciful, neologism: 'this*other-ness'. In the omnivalent state, whatever is happening now in "this" moment, with "this" object or "this" memory, etc. also seems simultaneously more or "other" than what it seems. However, on the other hand, the impression of other-ness is also grounded right here in the immediacy of "this" object or memory, etc. which is before me. The psyche in omnivalence is suspended or cycles within the dynamics of 'this*other-ness' and this gives strength, movement and an impression of unfolding presence to the omnivalent experience. (The "*" symbol is meant to indicate that "this" and "other" are continually cycling--i.e., folding back--into each other.) It is easy to see why literary metaphor and literary irony would be used so extensively by artists to evoke a sense of omnivalent 'this*other-ness' in an audience. By definition, the very structure of irony and metaphor are such that what you are confronting is both "this" and "more/other than this."

    taken from:

    "Nuance and Omnivalence in the Creative Mind"

    Published in the journal of creativity, Advanced Development, 1995

    By John Briggs

    Western Connecticut State University

    November 11, 2008