Tag Archives: archetypes

… story – art – quest for the cypher – symbol …

As painters or sculptors do, I frequently step back from my writing projects, searching for the core, a half imagined essence to shine through and re-animate the creative flow. Skills alone don’t do it, techniques alone don’t do it, nor style. As long as the essence of what I try to express floats in the unconscious, my efforts will baffle and tease me.

Having listened to thousand and one stories during my 30 years of working as a transpersonal psychotherapist, I conclude that when we tell our story to ourselves, or others who watch and listen, we trace a rhythm, a sound, the distant bubbling of a spring – a theme. While sourcing and shaping words we ideally become aware of how we translate experiences, string up memories and weave a pattern that gives meaning, purpose and direction to our story. We may re-weave the past and change how we perceive life. Even a single image, too evanescent to fit ordinary reality, can assume significance. An ideal may sharpen – and with it a vision of what not yet exists, revealed by the imagination.

Sensual impression, dreams, primary images and the love/hate of relationships, present a puzzle we try to arrange in some kind of order, waiting for a theme to become intelligible, and therefore transmittable. Finding a structure to express our experiences through words, images, movements, sounds, music, or numbers is insufficient. We must play with the fragments – take out bits, or add bits, until a satisfying narrative suggests itself.

World objects from my sand tray

Fairy tales, heroes and villains of myth, historical figures, cartoon characters or pop stars may do the magic by evoking a psychic resonance and providing a metaphor, or a precious symbol to ease the pressure of the archetypal demand lurking in the unconscious.

Not only those we call artists, but all creative people respond to what holds sensual and cognitive fascination for them. I include trades, crafts, makers, men and women with affinities to certain elements, who explore the quality and beauty of materials, like weavers, potters, wood workers, printers, plumbers, electricians … I include technicians, engineers, inventors, scientists and mystics. Curiosity and passion for a subject deepen knowledge and intuition as to how things connect outside, and, vitally, how they connect inside us.

Ashen – directing a film in the woods.

My fascination with creating stories was revived while doing a film degree (as career brake) during the late 1990s. I’m curious about consciousness, relative perception of time, and the interplay of characters for which I invent pasts and futures, where ideals are the means to a goal, while as soon as the goal is reached, a new ideal looms over the horizon. If this were not so, evolution, our whole story would stop. Ursula Le Guin once wrote –

‘In eternity there is nothing novel, and there are no novels.’

My ongoing writing project, a trilogy of stories, involves three soul sisters, Ana, Cara and Mesa. The first (already published) book of the trilogy, ‘Course of Mirrors,’ (see book page) narrates the quest of Ana, which is really the myth of the story teller, Cara, whose theme is seeking a balance for the enigma of clashing feminine and masculine principles. The sequel, ‘Shapers,’ (not yet published) introduces Cara in the twentieth century as she follows the characters of Ana’s myth into a far future society where emotional expressions are outlawed until the experiment breaks down under its duplicity.

In a third book, ‘Mesa,’ a work in progress, same characters move to a realm where time has slowed down to such extend that ‘novelty’ has to be rescued for life to continue. This story calls for a deep dive into the heart of my imagination.

I’m once more held in the cocoon stage. Given the ideological power games around the globe, I feel foolish about these musings, since I’ve been sharing the ups and downs of my quest here for the last seven years.

Do you, my reader, recognise the pressure to bring something into existence? How do you search for the cypher (the wild uniqueness in the soul) that informs your creative process?

*    *    *

A definition of Symbol … from ‘The Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi’ by Henry Corbin, transl. by Ralph Manheim, Bollingen Series XCI, Princeton University

The symbol announces a plane of consciousness distinct from that of rational evidence; it is a ‘cipher’ of a mystery, the only means of expressing something that cannot be apprehended in any other way; a symbol is never ‘explained’ once and for all, but must be deciphered over and over again, just as a musical score is never deciphered once and for all, but calls for ever new execution.

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Blog

… global vision & synchronicity …

Moroc, Marrakech Riad roof, golden vision - low     Less than 80 years ago, across the world, only about 200 televisions sets were in use. Today, a simulated reality confronts us with our collective mind. A click away, we sample the zeitgeist and witness some disturbing trends, like the continuous robbery of world resources.

How do we filter the mass of information? Do we shout treason when we see the failure of economic systems that allow 1 % of the population to own 40 % of global wealth, or when we discover that certain corporations privatise water –  even rainwater  –  in underdeveloped countries? Traversing from one patch of light to another, do we make connections that apply to our scope of action? Or, lacking a meaningful context, are we hypnotised by this enlarged mega-screen, the global vision of a world that can mirror our inner fragmented states  –  a world where every viewpoint exists simultaneously, that over-exposes so-called reality and blinds us? Are we ourselves living inside the screen-myth, as extras, freed into bits, a reservoir of data?

As writers, what in-forms us, what material do we disseminate? And what is it that makes choices, switches from one networks of influence to another? What guides us through the data jungle? Are there perceptions beyond our wilful personalities that determine, agencies that operate through us from beyond time and space? I’m weary of the term God. For me this agency is a consciousness composed of past, present and future intelligences, a light-wave that echoes different signals according to the receptivity and needs of each animated vessel. Humans can be dense, but a calm mind recognises clear signals of this wave, since they chime with a joyous feeling of connectedness, a larger symphony, maybe even the sense of a destined purpose.

In my experience, this consciousness operates through synchronicity. There exist conceptual similarities between the behaviour of sub-atomic particles and archetypal images, (C G Jung and Wolfgang Pauli discussed such similarities in the context of synchronicity), a striking link between mind and matter that has been largely ignored. It implies that mind and matter connect, relate, mirror each other, and reciprocate. The process is given life in the realm of the psyche as imagination, not structured by time and space, but through layers of meaning illuminated by consciousness. Psyche is the changing room between cosmos and pneuma.

Moroc, Marrakech, Riad roof, shadow - lowJung thought of archetypes not as fixed, but as changing predispositions, universal patterns inherent in the human psyche, images that comprise our collective past and future unconscious. A pattern stirred into activity by an emotionally charged event in our lives, brings home related experiences, often through meaningful coincidences in a non-linear and a-causal way.

Such synchronicities draw on a deeper life-sap, as if an eternal intelligence were at work.

David Bohm proposed that subatomic particles remain in contact with one another regardless of the distance separating them, and that their separateness is an illusion. Here a facet of his thinking – a short first part of a 5 part series  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGyDVF8GrLk                                                                                              A great and humble man I greatly admire. He has beautiful hands  🙂

A dream, for example, can attract an outer event, a meaningful coincidence, that powerfully substantiates a message from the unconscious, often accompanied by a numinous quality. In my own life, synchronistic events have challenged my narrow reasoning at certain crossroads towards seemingly irrational decisions. Exploring a hunch, while not attaching to the outcome, often clarifies a situation for me. Consequently, I respect the unconscious, and heed my intuitions.

‘The universe does not exist, out there, independent of all acts of observation. Instead, it is in some strange sense a participatory universe.’ – John Wheeler

Just as scientist are branching out from traditional imperatives that divide the world into subjects and objects, so we all, presented with a global vision, must modify some of the archetypal imperatives, images and ideas that have outlived their use, and look for symbols that carry a fresh mystery.

Moroc, Plage Blanche sunset - low

While sun and moon are forever formative and feed our imagination, they are no more our only lights.

With new associations from science come fresh symbols and exciting probabilities, in that we can question assumptions about time and progress, about the relationship between matter and mind, about our view of social units, and even the meaning we give to gender.

‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards’. The White Queen says to Alice.

*    *    *

Many of my posts here touch upon similar themes, but maybe pattern-which-connect in particular: https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/pattern-which-connects/

5 Comments

Filed under Blog

… the mystery of character versus genre …

Flicker, flicker, speed, speed – time is flying – here is a genre – an inviting golden bowl – let’s drop a story into it. A well-defined genre promises the best route to financial success for many aspiring writers.

the golden bowl of genre Human traits that make up characters are unfathomable in their combination, which is why we traditionally veer to an index of types. The adage of the writing guru – don’t tell, show – suggests character is revealed through traits that imply qualities. Traits fascinate us, but if they are mechanical in their emotional and logical processes, they seldom surprise. In such case the page-turning tension must be provided by the plot.

During the nineteenth century’s advent of psychology and individuation many writers moved away from the Greek model of plot-driven stories. Curiosity shifted to the complex inner life of characters and their individual way of creating meaning was employed to unfold narratives.

The search for a unique self beyond the collectively orientated ego personality is relatively new, and while time-engraved archetypal energies hold us in their emotional grip, we have now psychological maps to help us become more conscious of their compelling powers, more conscious of our personality, which, for the writer, informs their fictional characters and opens new worlds and new choices. Irrespective of the rich psychological and scientific knowledge available to us, the process of character formation present us with the greatest mysteries of our time – as exciting as discovering new territory, new planets, new eyes on the universe.

Here I am making up a scene from scratch:

He stiffly dragged his feet along the polished marble floor of the shopping mall, his head forward as if pulled by a rope, though his eyes did not focus forward, nor up or down, they swivelled, left, right, left right, alert for what? Alert for anyone who might observe him? Nobody did – apart from one person who sat still on a seat moulded into the stone replica of a toy train. She raised her eyes from her book and looked straight at him …

Now as reader, and as the writer of this entry into a scene without blueprint for a story, I’m curious – where is he heading, where is this going? I search for a deeper layer, a narrative unfolding from the mysterious core of the character walking through the mall. I want a substance to chew on, to extract a flavour from his unique world.

The woman’s stare broke his set rhythm of surveillance. His face contorted in fear, his feet lost touch with the marble floor, sailed on air, while his arms flattered like duck wings failing to lift. All he could think of before his fell flat was – she knows, she knows I’m not present in this body. All he perceived were veins of light in a glittering darkness. He chose to vacate.

Are you hurt? While approaching the sprawled body of the man, the woman shot a stern glance at her boy who stood by guiltily. She had noticed him drop the sweet wrap. She had noticed the man stepping on the slippery cellophane. She had caught his eyes – and what she saw in that instant had made her shiver …  

I’m not going to follow up this scene. Anyone who reads this is welcome to do so. It would give me a thrill.

We all enjoy our stock characters and their antics, types set into situations and conflicts we can readily identify with, heroes we can like, villains we can despise. We enjoy themes that fall into definite genres that entertain us away from tedious daily concerns. I’m not knocking these stories. I enjoy them myself.

But hey you, all writers out there, why not take a risk and be drawn to the mystery of the unpredictable that challenges you to think in new ways, why not evoke characters who, even while using known containers, allow their (your) unconscious past and future to fill in the content, characters who explore their personal experience to a depth where it becomes universal, characters who play with time and space and are directed from their inner spirit, even when it requires a new container?

In my writing, I like the adventure of discovery, a nut to crack. I like to allow my character to walk ahead and unfold the story, and if it spills over the frame of a convenient genre, so be it.

P1100981And here my little gripes with how-to-does:

The advice-filled internet spheres turn and turn like gyres.

Answers sum up being and are full of promised abundance – yet they are dead.

Questions sum up becoming and are full of challenging limitations – yet they are alive.

 

 

‘One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.’

Andre Gide

8 Comments

Filed under Blog