Tag Archives: John

Thinking inside the box…

John Lambert and I continue to have conversations based around the suspended in a leap of creative faith concept and were discussing, recently, why structure in poetry, why form is important to learn.
His response email is lesson worthy of exposure.  —
J, we had discussed the question of 
‘why create in villanelle?’
and answered that with ‘because employing forms
teaches you to be more creative within a structure’.
 
i wished to add this found thought:
 
…structure exists because
we expect cohesion from thoughts,
and structure is the framework for reason to exist
functioning as unseen as bones and beams
but necessary, unless you want to live in mud huts
as floopy things.
 
any sort of structure will do, from the pre-packaged
to the found art creation.  invent, restore, whatever.
but if, as a creator, you ignore the need for structure
good luck to you keeping a roof on the shape of your art.

 

Advertisements

Suspended in a Leap of Creative Faith… Part 3.

John Lambert says, “more specific,” he tells me, “remember that shaman? I relate to this dandelion as a carpenter; how can I remove the carpenter from the poem? How would the shaman then, in this light, relate to this seed?”

John read this poem to me at Molly’s At the Market in New Orleans last week when we were discussing the prompt of placing ourselves as someone, or something, else into the perspective and writing how the experience would play out through that belief system as we understood it.

His primary poem was one of a shaman seeing a dandelion seed float in front of his face – to which John wrote the following piece.

The Suzerain Speck

the shaman recognized his aura
in the star of a weightless seed
riding the wind

that pilgrim curiously paused before him
as if taking-in this stranger
and mirror of itself

as one infuses what another
reflects
by one’s expression

the seed bestowed on him
the thrill of being buoyant
blown from the womb

the shaman gave the seed his feet
on the earth, bearing weight

his encumbrance of thought
traveling many roads at once

and felt its mind
devoted to one knowing current

Suspended in a Leap of Creative Faith… Part 1.

What is it, then, that I’ll know is worth writing about?

Image

October 12th, 2013, roughly 1 month into the past, I was sitting in the nook of my attic’s north facing window alcove with notebook, pen and beer. Suspended in a   leap of creative faith…

I could not commit to a word without reason…

The wind, through the window, was easier than I expect October winds to be.

Always,” I thought, “all ways, the same – October bolsters the worst of me.

My dog barking downstairs, the skeleton of the tree next store was showing, fall is here, the ouroboros was swallowing its tail and it felt like, in a stallion fear of creativity, it finally realized it will have to shit itself back into his own mouth.

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 1.27.31 PM

I was met with the same, cliché, crisis of creative faith as all artists have, presumably met or will meet, at some crosshair of their life.

Why should I write? Is this just some form of approval seeking behavior? Is it just for, “that slap on the back? And the gold watch? Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy? Shine on you crazy diamond?” And will anything I write be of any value? What is the worth of a poem?

I couldn’t have answered these questions alone and I knew that others have had to have met this same situation.

I was gifted a grand reliquary of ideas from a variety of places and each of which illuminated a path worth drawing a map for here.

Perhaps I am posting this so that I may have a reference I, myself, may have access to when needed but since this seems to be a common insecurity among artists, in this post I am going to share the collection of answers I came across and, naturally, ask for your answers in the comments…

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more about this as it has helped me begin writing again and from a place within that matters to me.

I polled the Twitterariat

(Joe Navarro is an ex-FBI agent who specializes in the area of nonverbal communication and is the author of 6 books on the subject… Most importantly though – he is patient and kind enough to answer my endless inquiries on  the subject.)

(Jessica Fenlon is an ex-Pittsburgh film artist and fellow poet)

Polling the Vox Facebook Populi I found a varied set of answers as well –

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 2.32.44 PM Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 2.33.08 PM

Doing a simple Google search for why artists create gave me access to this fantastic article from which the quote most memorable…

“So back to the question why I make art. In my case, the projects that I do allow me to meet people I wouldn’t ordinarily meet, travel to places I wouldn’t normally go to, learn about subjects that I didn’t know I would be interested in, and sometimes even help people out in small ways that make me feel good. I like to say that what I’m after is to have an interesting life, and doing the work that I do as an artist helps me achieve that.” – Harrell Fletcher

Naturally I discussed this with my mentor John who gave a more precise explanation to why we create and share –

Because in creating resides joy.  We mimic god-work, unite with our next rung on the ladder toward source, which propagates health in us.  It’s the ne plus ultra of meditation when you document a new experience in something you’ve made. […] Also, it keeps you young.  Trust my anecdotal certainty on this. You need something to communicate to create, meaning one has to be feeling something, some- thing you’re willing to look at–and have seen. If you don’t like the content of your heart, you will not create. why confess what you can not address to a resolution? The advice of those I read is to acknowledge the ‘life’s lessons’, the ‘contracts’ we’ve accepted, the facts about ourselves and the lives we may have. Then drop them and walk on instead. we can choose at any time to release our contracts–we have to want to release the pain to which we cling, that feeds us like a mother. you must believe pain, like any old thing, can be thrown in the river, and you can walk away knowing right where it is, and will stay.

My greatest understanding of creating was when film maker Rachael Deacon collared me by asking, “why can’t it just be magic?” 

What she was labeling as magic was something I’ve long since understood as, and seemingly have forgotten about, the psychology of Flow as put forward by Mihaly Csikszentmiha –

Of course! It was precisely as Pirsig said when he was asked why he wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He responded by saying that, “writing it just seemed to have higher quality than not writing it – that was all.”

What every one of us strive to achieve is our highest-excitement and the way in which we do this lands us, whether consciously or not, in what Csikszentmiha labeled as Flow. When the challenge before us meets our skills for this challenge in very precise ways – we find ourselves within this diagram –

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 2.58.46 PM

That magic that Rachael reminded me of is the Flow Channel – and it appears as though when we do create from those lessons learned and then share with others – we are met with the feeling of magic and excitement that is so ingrained as a need in us as humans.

All of this together… All of these opinions and insights… I am left in a loop of trying to paraphrase and condense this information for myself and for others.

What is it that you are finding through all of this? Why do you create? What and where is your flow channel? What is your highest-excitement when it comes to your art?

The Essential Guerrilla Therapist’s Toolbox Part I… Fuzzy Rabbit Holes.

Kitty Durgin and I have, recently, been discussing specific tools that I keep in my Guerrilla Therapy Toolbox regarding problem solving techniques, prioritizing techniques, creativity, finding pathways to the flow channel (see graph), how, and why, all these things are esemplastic &c.

I realized that it this would make for an excellent post! A descriptive tool box of sorts.

Yes! The Essential Guerrilla Therapist’s Toolbox!

And it’s a large tool box, so we’ll consider this one, Part 1.

Or, “what Jason carries around in his head to make the world more interesting…”

So here is Tool #1: Build Yourself a Fuzzy Rabbit Hole and Dive in without Reserve.

In other words; this is how I found Edward De Bono.

Edward De Bono, the Maltese physician, author, inventor, consultant and originator of the term, “Lateral Thinking.”

(If you are interested in the background of De Bono you can simply click his picture. However, I am not interested in explaining that here. Rather I am interested in delving into some of his methodologies and how they can be practically applied, therapeutically, artistically, creatively.)

I can’t build the entire network of connections that led me to this man without expounded through, I’m afraid, a torrential hoard of information so I will attempt to make it short.

(And a little preceding bit of informing context–John Lambert, the mentor behind the curtain, always draws his initials, “JL,” as the contradiction sign from symbolic logic. And that symbol is simply ⊥. There is an ironic beauty in this.)

“It is never good to leave yourself ignorant about anything.” – ⊥

I took ⊥’s words very heavily and while spending my time reading, watching a television show, talking with someone, learning anything; I would willingly lead myself down a fuzzy rabbit hole crafted by Daedalus. To put it less metaphorically, I did just what he suggested; if I didn’t know, or didn’t understand, something – I looked it up. With this, I was constantly acquiring new knowledge… Newledge…

While watching the episode of House called, “Insensitive,” I found that that they had used a term that I had never come across before.

The term was the disease known as Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA).

I remember it very clearly. A girl named Hannah Morgenthal played by actress Mika Boorem had experienced a car crash with her mother. Skip ahead and they’re both, obviously, in the ER. When House enters the room one of his employees, Foreman, was dressing the wounds of Hannah.

What’s your name?” House asks, as Foreman, bewildered, is baffled that House seems to actually care what a patient’s name is.

Hannah Morgenthal,” she replies.

You have CIPA, Miss Morgenthal.

“No I don’t.”

Foreman stops, “Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis? There’s only been, what, 4 documented cases?”

House replies, “I can give you… 7 reasons… why I believe she has CIPA.”

That single line in the episode was the vestige for many of my current tools

If ever I am to watch something that has any educational value to it viz, a medical show, a TED.Com talk, a movie then I will always watch it on my computer for the sole purpose of having Google be a click away and, accordingly, have all the research available for me.

(When I was young I can remember this same concept only we did it with a thing called The Encyclopedia Britannica and since searching the alphabetized pages didn’t come with an autofill option it took a little bit longer to find things in those days. Hence in between reading we went to a place called the outdoors and sometimes we went to a land called the woods.)

I began to read about CIPA and came across a website, that I do not recall, nor can I find again, that discussed this episode and stated that the, “7 reasons,” that House says he is going to give is an important point to recognize. Why? Because he only gives 5 and replies with something to the effect of, “7, 5, what’s the difference?”

The thing is – when it comes to our cognitive abilities, there really isn’t much of a difference.

The writers of the show, in this case David Shore and Matthew V. Lewis, have been fairly decent, and at times genius, over the 8 year run. And this, this, was one of their shining moments.

In 1956 the cognitive psychologist George A. Miller wrote a paper entitled, “The Magical Number 7. Plus, or Minus, 2: Some Limits on Our Abilities for Processing Information.” Essentially the human mind can process via working memory 7 ± 2 stimuli at a time.

From reading this article and navigating my way through other random web pages regarding its content I came across a RadioLab broadcast from November of 2008 titled, not surprisingly, “How Much Is Too Much?”

In this broadcast one of the featured speakers was Dr. Oliver Sacks. And, accordingly, since he was a man that I knew nothing about I proceeding to read about him.

I spent years reading as much of Oliver Sacks’ material, and watching as many lectures, as I could come across from, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” to, “Seeing Voices,” to driving to New York City to visit Emily Kaufman who had had tickets to a lecture that Oliver Sacks was giving.

I even had the opportunity to meet the curmudgeon in person!

I grabbed my copy of, “Seeing Voices,” and ran up to him after his lecture,

“Dr. Sacks! Huge fan. I brought my copy of, ‘Seeing Voices,’ you see, ha, I teach in a school for the Deaf and I was hoping I could get this copy signed so we can have it in our library.”

He looked up at me, put his baseball cap on his head and said, “Deaf schools. Ha. I didn’t even know they still made those.”

And as he turned away from me I couldn’t help but laugh and enjoy the moment…

From my studying I found mention of Dr. Sacks in a book called, “Brain Training: Boost Memory, Maximize Mental Agility & Awaken your Inner Genius,” by Tony Buzan. Buzan, I learned, then was a pioneer of, among other things, Mind Mapping. Mind Mapping! A wonderful tool to have come across! A way for me to formally map out my connectomes and neuronetworks and actually see them in front of me and in our current time period we have mind mapping software and apps that make it even easier to plot out your route.

And in the far back of this book I came across a small section that had something stick out at me…

Hats… That think…

What a strange idea. The six thinking hats? What could this be about?

I turned back to my old friend Google and began to search the tubes for Edward De Bono and his hats that think and I came across a book entitled, “Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas.”

When I first saw the book cover and title I, quite literally, judged it by its cover. I figured that I would be reading just another book telling me to take a long walk through the woods, meditate by a babbling brook, imitate your favorite artist etc. All of tidbits of creative unwisdom that never worked for me.

Instead I learned what Lateral Thinking really was.

De Bono had a huge gripe with creative thinking that, I believe, makes sense. Essentially his gripe is– what the hell happened? We had all these revolutions and developments of man that seemed to have been telescopic! The timescales between them have been becoming brilliantly smaller and smaller.

So what did happen? And why is De Bono so pissed off? Because we haven’t had any good or noteworthy cognitive revolutions, that’s why.
Creativity is still at a Greek checkmate in most peoples minds. We think Aristotelian, we think Platonic, we think Socratic. Why have we stopped at, what De Bono calls, the, “G3?”

I’m uncertain. But De Bono knew there was room, and requirement, for change when it came to thinking and creativity and we needed a new revolution and, so, by degrees, De Bono got down to making some Serious Creativity happen.

De Bono came up with a multitude of ways to create new ideas simply by, for lack of better terms, hacking the brain through, what he calls, “Provocative Operations,” and so as to not muddy the brain waters, “Provocative Operation,” is often abbreviated to, and spoken and written as, simply, “PO.” A provocative operation on the brain treats the brain for what it is; a vast myriad little electrical networks that are all connected to each other and in addition uses the brain’s natural framework in order to force new ideas.

One such tool is the tool is the Random Input tool and it works so effectively and is done with such a simple trick on the brain that it is astonishing to me that it produces the ideas that it does.

It works essentially as follows…

Imagine I were to blindfold you and drive you to a random place in your home town. A completely random location in the town that you know so well. Would you, after the blindfold has been removed, be able to find your way back home?

Almost certainly you would.

The thing is, De Bono figured that the brain works in this same exact fashion.

If I were to “blindfold,” let’s say, Focus A and drop it off in a completely random part in the brain, say Synapse B, and have Focus A find its way back “home” by route of the neuronetwork it is in while utilizing not only Synapse B but also each connection along the way in order to define itself then we can create new ideas simply by playing with said focus.

To simplify the explanation further I will just give an example now.

Say I am feverishly amidst the writing of a new poem and need to concoct a metaphor for, say, how beautiful the weather is when I sit in my garden…

We now have Focus A (how beautiful the weather is when I sit in my garden) to arrest and take to Synapse B and have him find his way home again. Accordingly we would be doing a Provocative Operation of Random Input in order to generate a new idea.

And so as to not tarnish the flavor of the thought train the entire sentence is slimmed down, the fat chewed and trimmed off, until we are possessed only by the thought, “Focus A PO Synapse B.”

From where I sit on my porch there are an endless supply of random stimuli that I may place into the footholds of Synapse B. Now, remember, it is this simple – you have your focus and you drop it off in a random place in the brain and have it find its way home.

Focus A PO Coffee Mug – The weather is every cup of coffee that had me sink into winter chairs wrapped in a sigh of solace.

Focus A PO Motorcycle – The weather is shifting to fifth on a 1977 Harley-Davidson XLCR Café racer down Route 66 on a Pirsig pilgrimage.

Focus A PO CatThe weather is all fur and whiskers and coming home to no conditions, no needs but to love and be held.

Focus A PO Hula Hoop – The weather is childhood toys in June with grass in my toes and hips choreographed by the wind.

Now these are all, of course, just random examples of how this one particular tool works.

But now that the tool is, exhaustingly, explained you can understand that Focus A need not be something that has only to do with art and creativity.

It can be a conundrum at your job and a need for a new idea to deal with it.

It can be the way you are fixing your bicycle.

It can be needing to decorate your living room.

It can be how to store the food in your fridge.

It can be how to approach a friend who is having a difficulty.

It can be how to improve upon a specific ability that you fear you have exhausted options for.

As you can see – you can be your own rabbit chasing your own tail to eventually swallow all the knowledge you have found along the way.

So there are a few Essential Guerrilla Therapy tools from the toolbox, tools that rattle like hail on my bedroom windows in Pittsburgh winters.

One… It is never good to allow yourself to be ignorant about anything; be a consumer of information for you will find fountains and gardens that would make the Hersperides be bathed in awe.

Two… Think laterally my friends, learn De Bono’s methodology and understand the feel of a hyperfocus where ideas pour forth in torrents of creativity.

Three… Mind map your neuronetworks, mind map your thoughts, mind map your ideas. This organization will allow you to have incredible focus and access to what your brain connects to and from.

And lastly… Watch your word count… Because mine has, now, gotten way too high.

To Frau Kelly

An email, from Kelly, dated Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 6:01 PM.

It has been 10 days (typing now) from my last update regarding codependency and suicide,my response is this blog post.

Jason,
“[…]My continued wondering about being present in the moment, and ego[…].”

[…] On ego: could you […] please tell me what you mean when you talk about ‘ego’. I got the freshmen psychology Jung ego-superego-id lessons, although struggled then to truly grasp. Thinking your meaning differs and will give me deeper insight […]

[…] made some notes on Frau Gertrude (spelling). Will send from iPad. Yep, finally took time to properly read! Made some notes about ego as I was reading[…]

– Kelly

Kelly,

Regarding my ego and I, it has been as if Cain and Abel are trapped in a single body. A Janus personality not letting me feel comfortable traversing 3-dimensions. Why?

(I’m, at present, little concerned with Freud’s, “Id, Ego and Superego” ideas and more about the ego itself only.)

What is the ego?

20120131-160421.jpg
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego_and_super-ego

I am left to pick out two ideas from the above–

  • First is the idea of rationalizations. These are, definitionally, lies we tell to make ourselves feel better…
  • Second is the idea that the Ego makes decisions that are better for it’s personality in the long run rather than bringing and furthering anguish.

But– the ego is responsible for all the anguish there ever was; there is no external enemy. This I feel and know to be true. I cannot expound enough on the methodology of Byron Katie; its effect, and affect, have been cathedrals of therapeutically opened doors for countless people.

And then there are connections… Katie’s methodology exposes the truth beneath, behind, above, between, below what our perceived anguish is. And where does the anguish come from?

According to Katie it comes from our story, our neural network, our connectome.

In other words; the world is a projection of our story. And it is all connected up there…

Thoughts that fire together, wire together.

Now let’s have a personal example…

Take something simple… Remembering that, “thoughts that fire together, wire together.

A combat boot rests next to me on my bedroom floor, I’m sitting, legs up, staring at my chalkboard.

20120131-171135.jpg

I immediately think of my late brother Ben Bloom. Why? He always wore combat boots and I, miss him often and terribly. There is thus a connection and we begin the neural network of Jason’s thoughts fired and galvanized together.

20120202-103432.jpg

Furthermore, combat boots remind me of Heather… A black clad and mascara sullen goth girl in high school, we shared an infatuation with each other, sometimes in was rough, others beautiful.

It is orientation I want her attention badly enough to hike up my shorts and put my boots on the desk.

It is May, 2001– high school graduation, my Mother refuses to attend.

Ben is my teenage years like drunk parallel lines arm around neck and stumbling into, careening against, the other. My teenage years are linked with heart ache, with love. My mother is abandonment as are many ex girlfriends.

So from a single boot we have the following…

20120131-173510.jpg

And what’s more is that each of these things now are connected to each other…

20120131-173857.jpg

And while this is base example, 11 thoughts wired still and chalk outlined together; it is not nearly complete. The story is hundreds of thousands of these connections… Dynamic and unmappable.

[Tangential theory… I remember once having a random thought interrupt my current thinking. Like a tree lain down on the tracks ahead my train derailed into thinking something else. This happens to me a lot. Like an unconscious Edward De Bono-ian thought exercise of random word mind hacking. Acknowledging this behavior I grew annoyed with my own mind. But I quickly learned that this happens with all people. What if, like a bus right, a flight with layovers, a grocery store with many things to buy; our brain, when leaving a single thought must traverse, pass and give at least an inkling of contemplation to each thought passed? What if these are our “random interruptions? Just the brain passing all the stops it sees as necessary to acknowledge before it’s destination?]

We each have our schemas, our a priori, our judgements. And where do all of these come from?

Well, it’s simple really. Our Connectome, our neural network is a construct of all our schemas, a priori and value judgments.

And where have we garnered these? From our own subjective history.

I talked a bit about all the things I find beautiful that you may not- these are projections from our story.

Ok, now is where the snake swallows its tail, where the ouroboros can only begin to defecate itself back into its own mouth. Not quite unlike the ego does to us.

And so we are back again where we’ve began…

Our Connectome, our neural network is a construct of all our schemas, a priori and value judgments. And where have we garnered these? From our own subjective history.

So, then, who is our spokesman? Which Lorax speaks for the trees we have planted at birth?

I am the Ego, I speak for the story of this individual.

Why then, I wonder, does Freud suggest our ego attempts to make better in the long run what may become anguish? Were does anguish come from?

Who says these lines?

  • I can’t do it.
  • I might fail.
  • I am simply not good enough.
  • I have been here before, this is a mistake.
  • My mother never loved me.
  • All of this is my fault.
  • People don’t like me.

It is our spokesman talking. The head back voice, the every whisper that makes us believe that we’ve said it. Every voice you hear in your head is your ego thinking it knows what’s best for you. But the ego isn’t us. Not when we become conscious of it.

And I am not alone on this…

(Insert slew of relatable quotes…)

“The greatest con, that he ever pulled was making you believe that he was you.”
Guy Ritchie

“The ego is the worst confidence trickster we could ever figure… That we could ever imagine. Because… You don’t see it.”
Dr. Yoav Dattilo

“Wear your ego like a loose fitting garment.” – Siddhārtha Gautama

“And the single biggest con is– I am you.” – Dr. Steve C Hayes.

“The problem is that the ego hides in the last place you will ever look; within itself.” – Dr. Peter Fonagy.

“It disguises its thoughts as your thoughts, your feelings as your feelings, you thinks it’s you.” – Leonard Jacobson.

“Peoples needs to protect their own ego knows know bounds. They will lie, cheat, steal, kill. Do whatever it takes to maintain, what we call ego boundaries.” – Andrew Samuels P.H.D

“In religion, the ego manifests itself as the devil and, of course, no one realizes how smart the ego is because it created the devil so you can blame someone else […] there is no such thing as an external enemy. All perception of an enemy is a projection of the ego as the enemy.” – Deepak Chopra

“Your greatest enemy is your own inner perception, your ignorance, your own ego.” – Obadiah S Harris

And now, how do we live in the now? I always default to a Byron Katie quote here when I say that, “nothing before, or after, this moment is any of my business.”

Simply, don’t argue with reality.

This is all the fundamental basis for The Work really. Byron Katie uses what she calls a “Judge Your Neighbor” worksheet. It allows you to access all the ego is hiding from you. All the problems it is projecting.

On my bedroom wall, I am reminded, through the Judge Your Neighbor work sheet to…

20120131-193251.jpg

And the only enemy, that I can tell, ever existed; is our own egos.

The last time I was in New Orleans, John and I spoke about this. I was convinced that the ego was my enemy, the only enemy there was!

20120131-164248.jpg

I’m uncertain, yet, if enemizing the ego is the way to go though. Or even correct. As of now, however, it makes sense.

John said it is, “simply a voice providing you with information you may learn from.”

But I’ll be damned if I don’t feel like Jake in the elevator scene in Guy Ritchie‘s movie…

20120131-193852.jpg

A scene, from which, I shall leave this note with…

In Nola, Pittsburgh and Oz. Sincerely yours,

Jason.

Ps. My first reaction to “enemizing” my ego came in the form of a warning to it.

A Caveat…

Before I crucify them,
bloodied, to lintels, and
agonizing, I drill
pilot holes in my beliefs.

A curtesy only, they are
least deserving of my
kindness. They stand less
a sacrifice than my own omen.

If ever, the savage, ego
were to pass by my home,
he’d take heed lest
he be perched among them.