Seven days ago I was close to the centre. Was moving with power. I could trust my intutition, my mind was working in that zone where the gap between thought and action is almost non-existent. Tapped into that roiling mass of subconscious wordplay, synapses skipping with power of metonymy and metaphor. The power of logos. The left-brain creative function. There is somehting about this particular brain fuction, the one I guess responsible for crafting narrative, receiving sense data and making “sense” of it, making meaning from it. Ownership and mastery of this capacity seems to be the key to improvisation...to receive what is, accept, and ask the question “Why this?”“Why this here?” Not with a backward looking glance, not with a desire to look back for the reasons behind something but to initiate the creative incorporation of the thing into ones own narrative flow.
If there is anything I feel I have learnt this trip it is a greater understanding of self as a point of agency, as a centre of choice. My sense of self is directly related to my capacity to regcognise a decisional point and take action. Recognition and action. Awareness and...
When my mind is working at peak capacity it is answering the call of intuition at a phenomenal rate –recognising prompting of my intuition, and acting upon it without hesitation, delay or second-guessing. In this mode it feels like the whole universe is conspiring with me to co-author reality. I experience it as a melding of self-interest and the chaos of the universe, a collaboration between the order my mind would seek to impose on the chaos of the universe and and the chaos itself, such that the finished product bares the mark not only of my own personal will but also that of the universe’s. The finished product lies somewhere short of the preconceived ideal but is all the better for containing the random error or flaw with in it. It is is in the falling short of the ideal, that ingenuity enters into an act and transforms is from an act of reproduction into an act of creation. At its best it the act feels effortless, as if I was standing still to allow the Universe (capital‘U which is the word that we who once believed in capital ‘G’God use when that particular word is sticking in our craw) to flow through. The satisfaction derived from such an act and outcome is immense. It is the feeling of having been part, but not in control, of a process that is bigger than self – trancendence, in a word.
There should be something in here – that quote from Leonard Cohen- about the best songs being found at the moment of falling short of of a point of aspiration. The best bits are always in the coda.
The necessary precondition to receiving the call of intuition seems to be poise. In Blindness, Jose Saramago writes that “nerves were not of the devil, nerves were the devil". Nerves are the triumph of irrationality and fear over rationality and poise. Rationality is the child of poise. Rationality allows the human mind the possibility of both logos (reason) and metaphor – the twin fruits of the Word. Plato, fond as he was of reason, had about as much time for metaphor as he did for the poets who wielded it. Metaphor, with its ability to confound reason and tap the vein of divine madness from which profundity and pith fall freely from the cosmos, had no place in Plato’s world of calm rationality. Where reason as logos runs in a few set, pre-determined directions metaphor runs out along the synapses in all directions opening up vistas of imagination in a way that logos just cannot. I guess if one includes mathematical functions logos is given a wider repetoire but is still no match for the abundance of metaphor (association, connotation).
:/ Travel and the Word
To travel in Indonesia this time around has been distressing. More particularly, travelling as a backpacker. Moving quickly from place to place, quick transactions, the endless outflow of money, the unsatisfyingly inhuman economic transactions. The extended period of feeling beheld by those around you as a nothing more than a source of income, an economic resource to be exploited, while understandable, is nonetheless tiring. It takes a fair degree of presence and imagination to remain open to the universe and to fellow human beings when each beckoning gesture is followed shortly by a request for money of some sort. The economic pressure on Indo’s backpacker trail is hard on the soul. An unavoidable reality of being a fast moving traveller through a country full of people going slowly. In the battle of interests that is each economic negotiation, the position of traveller is a strange one of both (assumed, implied) privilege and precarioness. A kind macro level upper hand but micro level vulnerability – an unfamiliarity with the lay of the land, and imperfect access to channels of information. The hawkers, becak drivers, prostitutes, and the rest have poise, inside information and, most importanltly, time on their side.
The feeling of being gazed upon, sized up, has gotten to me this time around.
Also for some reason. The language of which my fluency used to be such a source of pleasure and pride has become a straight-jacket for a personality that has outgrown its capacity in recent years. New wine in old wine skins. The freedom of self-expression allowed by English only serving to heighten my sense of alienation from this society….Trying to fit back into a persona of tentativeness and deference that can stray into unchecked syncophancy…slave to the debilitating need to get the language right.