Quest for the Soul: 6
Van Gogh: Starry Night (flowing along quite remarkably)
Creatures previously encountered:
- Free Will – and its trusty assistant, Envisaging
- Discernment – and its debatable alias, Resonance
- Thinking – and its handy accessory, the Internal TV
- Pre-thoughts – and the great internal Reservoir
As we return to the jungles of human awareness, our quarry this time is ‘Creativity’, a creature of boundless energy and invention. Will it remain still long enough for us capture it on film or sound? Maybe we should begin with an easy approach, and the easiest for many might be writing. After all, writing uses words, as does this article, so there should be some compatibility.
Let’s say I’m writing a story then. I’ll need to enlist all the creatures we’ve found so far. First of all I envisage an idea, and if it’s got some life and hope to it, I’ll choose to go with it. (That’s the Free Will box ticked.) However, I’ll need to be sure I’m on the right lines, so I keep checking it resonates the right way. (That’s Discernment ticked.) At first I play with the concept, trying out bits on my internal television, watching the action, trying out the words. (So Thinking is under way.) And as I get more into it, scenes and expressions will arise under their own momentum. (Aha, I’m tapping Pre-Thoughts now.)
I’m ready to get physical by this stage – put pen to paper – and so transfer the story from the inner world to the outer. This involves a paradox: for the way to send it out is to send me in. I need to get into the story, visualise and empathise my way in, till I am transmitting it from the inside. I need to see, feel, taste and sense the situation. And if I do enough going within, the magic can start and the Flow get under way.
That’s because within is where the Pre-Thought Reservoir lives (a.k.a. Unconscious Mind). And that is truly immense. So powerful it knocks us unconscious several hours each day. So huge it contains all our memories – every image and word we have absorbed from people and places, from books and films, from who knows where and who knows when. So madly creative it spends each night chewing these memories and putting them into fresh combinations – stories of power and lust and romance and terror and altruism and violence and tenderness. This is the torrent we unleash in our writing.
What happens when we enter its Flow? It draws us from idea to idea, vision to vision, incident to incident. And, magically, it clothes them in words. It is as though the Flow contains a great adhesive soup of words – and as the ideas, visions and incidents pass through it they spontaneously pick up words. And the more intensely we visualise our story, the more precisely and powerfully the words adhere.
How do we handle all this? Are we tossed head over heels, emitting stories as mad as dreams and as uselessly baffling? Are we swept along helpless, producing stream-of-consciousness nonsense? Well yes and no. We try to control our visualisation by lifting our head from the water. We try to look about us, scan forward, steer our way along.
One sentence must flow into another, one paragraph into another. Chapter One must take us to Chapter Two, which must then flow further into the book. And of course the water splashes our eyes, and the surges submerge our heads, and our vision often fails. So then we need something like a gut feeling, or resonance, or instinct – in fact our old friend Discernment – to warn us we are flowing off course, and to help us back to the channel of our flow.
By this stage, with any luck, our wildlife cameraman has an image of the creature on film. And very odd it appears: a weird three-part entity – at the front is Visualisation, sending it forward; in the middle is the Flow, expelling words like a jet engine; and behind is Discernment, applying tweaks and redirections to keep it on course.
The camera captures something else too. Every now and then our composite swimming creature ends up gasping on the river bank, looking about it, wondering where to go next. It dives back in but eventually remains on the bank, exhausted, no longer able to handle that mighty surge. And so the Flow continues on its way, no longer controlled by vision, as baffling and alien as ever before.
Now, while poor gasping Creativity sits slumbering on the bank, let us ask how it would manage with other art forms. Music seems a parallel case, for that too must flow. But what exactly would flow? Not so much stories and images (unless you’re writing a Pastoral Symphony) – no, it would be more like those mysterious things, impressions. An impression of mighty conflict, say, followed by sinuous grace, then mysterious unease, and culminating in exuberant triumph. (A poor sketch of Beethoven’s Fifth, but it might suggest the general idea.)
And visual art? Well, it helps if the artist is Van Gogh because then we can see his brush strokes undulating across the canvas – another sort of flow, static in the time dimension but mobile enough in the spatial ones.
Meanwhile our wildlife film crew are feeling rather pleased with themselves. They’ve captured a major beast in action and even filmed it napping afterwards. However, they look a trifle hesitant. “That creature,” insists the Cameraman, “it spends lots of its time either with its head under water or lying on the bank panting for air. I’m not convinced it could create much of value.”
“Nor me,” adds the Sound Man. “The words I recorded were a mixture of genius and drivel.”
Ah indeed, there’s something missing. Something stronger even than the mighty magnificent Flow. And that must be our next quarry: Imagination...
May I invite you to make certain purchases? (I may? Why, thank you...)
(a) The Salamander Stone (by my most excellent and trusty pal, Mrs Me) from one of these outlets:
Direct from the publisher, Burst Books: click here
Amazon UK: click here
(b) The Two Worlds of Wellesley Tudor Pole (by Mrs Me’s most excellent and trusty pal, Me):
Amazon UK: click here
Amazon.com (US): click here
(You’ll be getting both of them? Well, that is an admirable choice, if I may say so...)