1 August 2013
The other day I received a response from someone who thought they were being helpful. I appreciate the effort, the response missed me entirely.
This is understandable. Nearly our whole culture is focused entirely too much on the linearity of the left side of the brain. It seems to come naturally by way of our exposure to education, maturation, socialization and maybe a few too many other forms of -tions.
Consider this song by Supertramp;
Songwriters: R Davies, R Hodgson
When I was young
It seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees
Well they'd be singing so happily
Joyfully, playfully watching me
But then they send me away
To teach me how to be sensible
Logical, responsible, practical
And then they showed me a world
Where I could be so dependable
Clinical, intellectual, cynical
There are times when all the world's asleep
The questions run too deep for such a simple man
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned?
I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am I say, "Now what would you say for they calling you a radical
Liberal, fanatical, criminal?
" Won't you sign up your name?
We'd like to feel you're
Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable
Oh, ch-ch-check it out yeah
At night when all the world's asleep
The questions run so deep for such a simple man
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned?
I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am
Who I am, who I am, who I am
'Coz I'm feeling so illogica
l D-d-digital Oh, oh, oh, oh Unbelievable
This is not much of a foreign concept, most children are natively right brain oriented at birth, the linear, logical aspects usually must be learned. This what schools tend to focus on. As the song portends, as we become more indoctrinated in the ways of culture through the educational process we become more predictable, trustable, lesslikely to bear watching.
Notice in the song the words names used to encourage the individual to maintain to the new expected norm, radical Liberal, fanatical, criminal. Names meant to send shivers up the spine. No one wants to be one of those.
For some reason I never lost touch with that right brained sense of me as a child. Throughout grade school I was never a star pupil, I always found the material to be boring, the teacher to be stodgy and many of my peers in the classroom to be frankly, suck ups, who could be pedantic trying to curry the teacher's favor in return for a good grade.some of whom had gone over to the other side, bragging how their parents gave them a dollar for every A received in school. There was something about those “successful” ones, nobody wanted to be like them.
So the world outside the window always intrigued me. I was lucky, the school was sited in a woods. When the clock dragged its second sweep hand too slowly round the circumference, making me wonder if the gears weren't solidifying in the works, there was always a squirrel out side darting hither and yon as if unable to make up its mind, occasionally shaking its tail as if to inquire when was I coming out side.it was growing impatient to play. Mrs.
Euwell merged into one mindless blob of sameness, all bent on
following their mandate to teach us something or we were to sustain
their wrath if we didn't. I never understood the correlation between
corporeal punishment , or the threat of corporeal punishment and
learning. Mostly it seemed like bullying to me.
We were always told to stand up for ourselves on the playground. But somehow doing so with the teacher was forbidden, and those teachers knew it. One of the best teachers I had was Mrs. Sakamoto from the island of Oahu, the state of Hawaii. It was sixth grade, school had been moved to a new building sited in a treeless, open field. There were no squirrels for entertainment outside the window. That woman was engaging. We learned about Hawaii, the iron grip of education relaxed. In one year my reading level was beyond the grade reading book, so those few of us were given a pass to the library for reading hour, best thing that could ever be done for me. My measured reading level went beyond the twelfth grade. In math we outstripped the sixth grade math book so the math coordinator for the school district came in twice a week to instruct us in base two, base seven, hexadecimal, basic geometry, basic trigonometry, and whatever else we could glom onto.
Learning was fun, for the most part suffering the teachers was abysmal.
With that I leave you with an excerpt from my dissertation, written a few years ago, to demonstrate how these ideas stayed with me down through the years.
I have been aware that when I am in the creative form that there seems to be so much more of what I experience as myself than at other times. This is not to say that my physical dimensions change, rather that the fullness of my being, the essence of who I am, assumes larger dimensions. This larger sense of myself is palpable. There is a sense of watching a series of events unfold in a way that is just perfect. There is no thought of racing ahead to a preconceived expectation; there is a sense of knowing that everything is going to find its rightful conclusion.
I know that, when I set about to make photographs and pay attention to the image, I see in my mind that the adjusting of the variables that make photography work just seems to flow with ease. The speed of the film, its inherent characteristics at receiving an image, the factors that shutter speed and aperture influence the image are all familiar and do not get in the way or need to be pondered.
Some people view the creative process as difficult or strange. Often the methods the creative person uses to access the creative moment are very different from the behaviors that people most often use in the company of one another. Often the results are so different from what is expected that the product appears bizarre or out of the ordinary. The creative process is often very far from the usual activities of daily life that, in comparison with the mundane routine, it may appear to be quite strange. There are two forms of difficulty that arise related to being creative. One is to voluntarily step away from the commonly accepted behaviors that everyday life in a social system demands of its participants. This can be difficult as doing so one separates one’s self from affiliation with the group. This is often necessary as the group mindset is not very conducive to creative thought and expression. The second difficulty is that, if/when one chooses to step aside from that acculturated acceptable way of doing things, there are some internal awareness changes that have to happen for the creative process to become available.
Even though I have an idea as to the mechanics of what is going on with the inhibition that is being felt internally and from others, I am even more curious as to the nature of this creative urge. What is it? Why is the giving of one’s self over to the creative process so demanding? What is it about the creative process that is so appealing? There are so many questions. This study focuses on experiencing the movement of creativity from the point of view of persons reporting their internal awareness of being in the creative process.
As I have observed this situation over the years, I have noticed that much research is from the perspective of viewing creativity as an object, separate from the person. Yet from my experience creativity is an act, a verb, it is not a noun. Creativity is a way of being, a way of conducting oneself within the constantly unfolding present moment. For that reason I would like to study the experience of creatively being.
There is a quote from Franz Kafka in The Great Wall of China. It states:
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. (Kafka, 1968, p. 980)
I find that as a child I was able to accomplish this way of being with very little effort on my part. It seemed as if this was a natural way of existing in the world and with the world. With age and the expectations of school, I learned to think my way through my daily existence. I found that most people and certainly my teachers expected me to figure, name things, and make sense of, in a linear manner, everything with which I came into contact. While this may be acceptable for schooling, it precluded my being able to participate creatively in my engaging of the world. Often I would sit in a classroom, bored silly with the activities going on, yearning for an opportunity to be with the world and to participate with it, rather than learning how to dominate it and manipulate it.
I can remember those wonderful, glorious moments when as a child I was completely lost in some aspect of what I was doing. In these moments my individual sense of being a persona had drained away, there were no linear thoughts of causation, no naming of things and finding a dualistic set of understandings. I would become so involved in a project that I was turning my attention to, as to lose track of time, physicality, and my position in respect to other people.
I have often identified myself as being an art form. An art form can be both a verb and a noun. As a verb an art form is always evolving. It is never finished, but continually responding to its environment, usually at the hands of the artist. An art form can be static as well, stopped in a moment of time and for a brief moment to become a noun. The more dynamic, verb way of being an art form is constantly evolving, changing, shifting, taking on different dimensions and qualities as the artist continues to interact with the self. I often see myself as the more dynamic version, a series of changes that grow and develop out of what was previously present before.
What draws my attention is that the usual, standard way of knowing myself, the way that most of us do on a daily basis completely fades away during my experiences with the creative process. Not only are the usual markers not important, but the lack of need for them has a liberating feeling to it. There is no fear that I have lost my boundaries, or that I might disappear without the old ways of knowing myself. The sense of time falls away and I am timeless in a timeless world. Things move and evolve as each moment unfolds out of itself. Not that there are a discreet set of moments strung together like popcorn on a string, but that the moment exists right now and it is constantly changing, in a state of flux, like watching the image through a kaleidoscope. I am left with an awareness that is fixed on that which has me enthralled, whether it is visual, aural, or tactilely oriented.
I have found that when I participate with the world in a creative way, that I feel a sense of gratitude that works in both directions. I feel gratitude for the world and that I am in it. This has a sense of separation to it in that I am grateful over here for something over there. I also sense that I am grateful for the world that I see in the same way that I can look at a part of my body and be grateful for that as a part of myself. In that way I am being an essential part of the world when I appreciate it, I am that functioning part that notices and appreciates the whole as itself.
Many people have studied creativity as a thing, from the point of view of construing it as a noun. Some have even studied the attributes of those who are highly creative. I have not yet been able to find any studies of what the experience is from a subjective perspective of being within that act of expressing creativity as it moves through us. I want to know what the sense of creativity is as a verb being experienced. I have noticed this action moving through me and taking over my experience in those moments that I have experienced the creative impulse. I am interested in finding out if the experience I know is similar to that of others and if so in what manner?
There is a human awareness to being creative. These experiences, which I open up to allow, become real in both a felt sense and in the physical space around me. I am not so interested in the remains of that creative pulse left behind as in paintings, poems or even less lasting acts as performance art. I want to know what the experience is of being in that creative moment as it unfolds.
In summary, the term experience can be used both as a noun and a transitive verb. This study predominantly depends on the action-oriented version of the word. In seeking to understand what the individual undergoes and gains from being aware of participating in a creative event, the active understanding of the word experience is necessarily at the root of the study. Therefore, the use of the word experience is the transitive verb definition, which is process oriented, describes a personal knowledge, utilizes feeling and sensation, and examines the effect on the individual.
I also found that most teachers do not like creative individuals in their classrooms as they are considered too disruptive. These teachers put a heavier premium on maintaining control over the students than allowing them to go about learning in their own best way. In order to be creative the individual needs to have some familiarity with right brain functioning. Too much analysis and linearity is an anathama to creativity, it can augment the creative bloom but it can easily smoother it.
Back to my respondent the other day: of course I cannot expect everything to go as I would like, but most of the other residents here have similar concerns. Every meal I eat I have to remind myself that the food service contract was recently awarded to a lower bidder than the last holder of the contract. Cheaply as possible stands out in big terms every day. Those who forgot how wonderful life could be or who have not experienced it in a while might be forgiven. I never signed on for such treatment. I didn't buy into this form of minimal existance, I just got ill with a disabling disease. I have all of my mental acuity's I am not so easily lead as many others whom I have seen here. Just because one can pulla fast one on some people doesn't mean that al of us are so compliant. I know what good food is, I used to buy and cook it. I am only not able to stand and walk, which includes a lot of activities of daily living. So I askwhat about that means I have to live the rest of my life at the lowest common denominator? Is this the way we collectively want to treat everyone who can no longer take care of themselves? I am here by way of the National Health care policy, which insists that I own nothing or hold any financial instruments valued at more than $2000. Everything I have ever worked for has been taken from me. Is this how we as a people look after those who no fault of their own require help.
Through this all I see those who learned the lessons of their schooling verywell, reduce everything to dollars and cents before evaluating anything. Have no feelings, do not allowthat unruly part of your humanity muck up your decisions. The almighty dollar must be kept sacrosanct. That critical, reasonable , cynical world is at stake. Everything could come crashing down. It is so sad when one considers some of the studies that havefound that there is enough food to go around, the world over, the only thing that keeps the present world in play is scarcity, most of it man made (like say DeBeers and diamonds in South Africa, look into the recent diamond strike in the Canadian Northwest by a recent graduate with a geology degree) Those that have inhibit the gain of others using whatever forms available, we all pay the price, some more than others. The linear thinkers are running the world, and not to well either. The logical argument seduces with the linear simplicity of logic, which inhibits nature, excludes any right brained feeling, or “fuzzy”thinking. Come live with me for a few weeks under these conditions, I wouldn't be surprised if a change of thinking occurs. That is why I titled this blog “From Behind These Eyes”, to report the real experience of what it is like living under these conditions. By age accident or illness all of us end up here eventually. Once someone ends up here all of your abilities to effect a change have left. Now is the time for doing before its too late for you too.