Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Retrospective: The Wreck of "The River of Stars" (INTJ)

From the notes compiled for The Wreck of "The River of Stars" lo these many years hence.  All were copied from various M/B sources with "Gorgas" replacing "INTJ." 

The Rationals (NTs):

Also on the introspective side, Myers had NTs as tough-minded in figuring out what sort of technology might be useful to solve a given problem. To this end, NTs require themselves to be persistently and consistently rational in their actions. Though they may differ in their preference for judging schedules (J) or probing for options (P) as they tackle problems, and though they can seem expressive (E) or reserved (I) around others, all NTs insist that they have a rationale for everything they do, that whatever they do and say makes sense.

So Myers described the NTs as "analytical" and "systematic" -- as "abstract," "theoretical," and "intellectual" -- as "complex," "competent" and "inventive" -- as "efficient," "exacting" and "independent" -- as "logical" and "technical" -- and as "curious," "scientific," and "research-oriented." Here again is a unique and easily recognizable configuration of character traits, the NTs a breed apart, starkly different from SPs, SJs, and NFs.

The Portrait of the Mastermind (Stepan Gorgas)

Of the four aspects of strategic analysis and definition it is the contingency planning or entailment organizing role that reaches the highest development in STEPAN GORGAS. Entailing or contingency planning is not an informative activity, rather it is a directive one in which the planner tells others what to do and in what order to do it. As the organizing capabilities of INTJs increase so does their inclination to take charge of whatever is going on.

It is in his abilities that Gorgas differs from the other NTs, while in most of their attitudes they are just like the others. However there is one attitude that sets him apart from other NTs: he tends to be much more self-confident than they, having, for obscure reasons, developed a very strong will. People like Gorgas are rare, no more than, say, one percent of the population.  Being very judicious, decisions come naturally to him; indeed, he can hardly rest until he has things settled, decided, and set. He is able to formulate coherent and comprehensive contingency plans, hence contingency organizers or "entailers."
Gorgas will adopt ideas only if they are useful, which is to say if they work efficiently toward accomplishing his well-defined goals. A natural leader, Gorgas is not at all eager to take command of projects or groups, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead.  Once in charge, however, Gorgas is the supreme pragmatist, seeing reality as a crucible for refining his strategies for goal-directed action.  In a sense, Gorgas approaches reality as he would a giant chess board, always seeking strategies that have a high payoff, and always devising contingency plans in case of error or adversity. To Gorgas, organizational structure and operational procedures are never arbitrary, never set in concrete, but are quite malleable and can be changed, improved, streamlined. In his drive for efficient action, Gorgas is the most open-minded of all the crew.  No idea is too far-fetched to be entertained -- if it is useful.  Gorgas is a natural brainstormer, always open to new concepts and, in fact, aggressively seeking them.  He is also alert to the consequences of applying new ideas or positions.  He quickly discards theories which cannot be made to work.  On the other hand, he can be quite ruthless in implementing effective ideas, seldom counting personal cost in terms of time and energy.



Gorgas has an original mind and great drive for his own ideas and purposes. 
  • Forms long range visions
  • Finds meaningful patterns in external events (in fields that appeal). 
  • Skeptical, critical, independent, determined. 
  • Has a high standard of competence and compliance.  
  • He likes to work alone. 
  • Thinks a lot before acting; and sometimes without acting!
Calm, decisive, assured.  Social conversation is difficult.  Private, reserved, hard to know; aloof.  Does not give praise. 

How Others see him   

Gorgas is clear and concise; objectively critical, but because he does not express his inner self, he translates his creative insights into logical plans and decisions.  Since others don’t see what he is thinking (his creative insight), they think Gorgas is inflexible.  In reality, he would gladly change a plan if new evidence emerges.     

Weak points

 Because he can overlook details that don’t fit his vision Gorgas can make poor decisions based on partial data .  Gorgas becomes aloof and abrupt and critical of those who don’t see what he feels is obvious.  Becomes single-minded and unyielding in pursuing his vision and does not consider the impact on others. Gorgas engages in intellectual games, quibbling over abstractions and semantics.     

Under severe stress

Gorgas will become overly focused on specific details he would not normally notice or would see as unimportant.  He starts nitpicking on trivia, such as the precise number of previous captains of the River or the numbering of the cages on the hull. 
He also begins to overindulge in SENSING activities: playing computer games over and over, playing cards, overeating. 


  1. ***spoilers***

    When we get late in the novel, it was a big surprise to me that he could cook. I wasn't surprised he cooked by himself, but kinda surprised he could cook at all & chose ethnic comfort food---which none of his table companions note as a sentimental (?) choice. Seems like he would be a definite use-the-recipe, use-a-meat-thermometer guy in the kitchen, someone to take pleasure in all his bagels being the same weight.

    1. That's because the M/B types are loci in a four dimensional continuum, not separate and discrete buckets in which a person is imprisoned. Meyers contended that when an INTJ type is "under stress," he will break type and 'overindulge in SENSING activities.'

    2. 'Surprise' isn't a euphemism for 'I think it should be different' & I'm sorry if it sounded that way. I meant a surprise among all the other revelations we get toward the end, not surprise that he does something sensory under stress. Learning something he can do is different than learning what he did. Being able to cook implies practice & discipline, whether it's by-the-book or an exercise in spontaneity, and it produces something--which is a big departure from his computer games. I thought it was quite poignant that he has an unexpected creative/productive skill from his past & it made me more sympathetic to him late in the novel. It looks perfectly spot-on iNtroverted that even when he cooks for others, his standard is the recollection of his wife's cooking, not if he pleases them.

  2. I read the book about the time Eifelheim was published. My memory of the characters is very vague, with the notable exceptions of Gorgas, the Lotus Jewel, and the young engineer type who can build anything. I test as INTP or ENFP, depending on my mood, and I have long noticed sympathizing with INTJs to an extent that often approaches pity.

    The Lotus Jewel, I wanted to nuke from orbit. You posted a gloss of all the characters on livejournal years ago, and though I forget what she was, I remember thinking, "Ah, yes."


Wonder and Anticipation, the Likes of Which We Have Never Seen

  Hello family, friends and fans of Michael F. Flynn.   It is with sorrow and regret that I inform you that my father passed away yesterday,...