Thursday, September 23, 2010

Applying Occam's Razor has Put Your Abilities in the Sink.

It's easy to become conditioned into thinking in certain patterns and forms due to being locked outside the chaotic innards of the mind. The same conclusions are often reached repeatedly because you apply the same formulas to reach them. These formulas and conclusions become the only thing you know. Why do we fall into the same roads of thought? Is it a desire for closure that keeps us from thinking down different paths?

Writing requires a broader and more flexible interaction with the world and with the self.

Here is an example of insulated thinking from my own perspective:

As a very young man of eight or ten years old, I had a wallet with no money in it that I carried around with me constantly. I didn't have anything in it, actually, except for one piece of orange stiff paper that was signed  by Lillian Oppenheimer, President of the Origami Center of America, an organization that operated out of the basement of the American Museum of Natural History, a place that seems to have no end of interior chambers for personal exploration.

Origami was a soothing art for me. It had specific rules and diagrams to create three-dimensional objects from a two-dimensional sheet of paper. Its crisp lines and corners coupled with its sharp points and creases translated to me the mathematical and geometric nature of the world. One could have a diagram of an origami form and replicate it anywhere on any piece of paper. 

Hooray! You did i......zzzzz.

I was one step closer to understanding the universe. That is until I discovered the iconoclastic origami style of Akira Yoshizawa. This is his famous Gorilla, which is displayed in the Lourve in Paris:

Yoshizawa had had enough of the restrictions of diagram-based origami and sharp lines and invented wet-folding, which allowed him to sculpt the sheet of paper rather than merely fold it. He introduced curves to replace straight lines, which are seldom found in nature. 

His creative output was from a place that broke away from the strict methodology of other origamists of the time. But, he harnessed the chaos of the mind to the point of being awarded an honor by Emperor Hirohito called The Order of the Rising Sun, one of the highest recognitions of citizenry, second only to The Order of the Chrysanthemum.

Now, a whole wave of imitators who are actually innovators have swarmed in on the origami scene to make pieces like this:
and this:
and this:

All of these pieces are from one single sheet of paper, which prompts eight-year old me to remove the orange piece of paper from my wallet and, instead of folding it, putting it deep in the folds of a very large book, which will be stashed high on a shelf, away from my traditional origami shame, lest I be called on to create something original from it. 

Now, this is all entirely too dramatic. But, it does resonate with the creative process in regards to writing, which is something that, unlike origami, I am looking to achieve and fulfill. Are there predictable creases and folds in my methods? Am I looking for creative comfort in lines and planes that I go over and over again in my head? It's frightfully possible and more than likely.

In the next week, I am ordering the parts to build the hypnagogic mind machine from the last post and we shall explore the state of creativity possible through this method..

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hopping the Velvet Rope of Your Mind.

Who or what is the biggest enemy to the creative mind?

It is my estimation that all creative minds have the same potential brilliance and there is a certain philosophy towards child rearing held by the baby wranglers at the Institute for the Achievement for Human Potential that is inclined to agree with this:

"Every child born has, at the instant of birth, a higher potential intelligence than Leonardo da Vinci ever used."

The question is, then, why isn't the world full of like-minded geniuses, inventing inventions that will be used in centuries to come, producing exquisitely wrought pieces of art across multiple platforms, and dissecting the world down to levels of behavior never before imagined?

Ah, I was wondering about that.

Well, it is actually. But, just not in one person! 

So, what is different about the average man that prevents him from "Vetruvian Man"-level genius? Isn't it the walls that we build up around our potential starting the day we interact with the world? The mind is conditioned by our own egos telling us what we think we are or aren't and is amplified by the egos of others telling us the same thing. Lord knows mine is!

So what is to be done? How do you overcome the ramparts of years of mitigated thought process? 

The answer is that you need to lay siege to your sub-conscious. There is a party in your own mind that's happening right now that you don't even know about. All day, every day, your sub-conscious is coming up with a constant steady stream of ideas. A lot of them are ridiculous. A lot of them are ludicrous. However, there are gems and diamonds in there waiting to be plucked for your pleasure. Would you complain if you had to wade through fifty ideas if you ultimately come upon a great one?  It's statistically in your favor to be privy to what your sub-conscious is saying behind your back. 

Let DaVinci Help You Help Yourself.

There are a number of ways to penetrate the barriers of the ego. Among the engines of war thats some people employ is the use of substances to achieve an altered state of mind, but I feel that the price demanded by chemicals may potentially be too steep for the reward. 

There is a passageway that can be travelled to find yourself in the secret parts of the self. It is called the hypnagogic channel. It is that place between being awake and being asleep, also known as threshold consciousness. We all necessarily fall into the hypnagogic state as it is literally the hallway that we must pass through to achieve sleep. To be aware that we are in this place, however, we can prolong our stay in it and use it to our advantage.  We can marry the concerns of our waking world with the river of ideas that our dream state can provide. 

For anyone who pays attention to dreams, they know that dreams have the powerful ability to dredge up memories from our past that our conscious has forgotten, to combine images and concepts that we would never imagine if we were awake, and to push the boundaries of the possible out of sight to the point of pure omnipotence.

Creative ability is the harnessing of that omnipotence. If it can be imagined, it can be done.  

But how can we possibly dwell in the corridors of the hypnagogic state if it is only transitional and momentary, you may ask?

There are a number of exercises that are quite effective that we will go into later, but for those of you that want to be there now can order one of these:
Comfort is the Enemy. will sell you the parts and you can follow these instructions.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Hand is Divided Into Fingers.

 Regarding the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James once wrote that "the best things come, as a general thing, from the talents that are members of a group; every man works better when he has his companions working in the same line, and yielding the stimulus of suggestion, comparison, emulation."

This sentiment is one that swells a desire within me for all my friends to pursue the art of writing as well. 
Not to have writing done by committee, mind you, but to amplify and enhance the conversation.

The unique world view that each individual holds is squirreled away in their minds, only to appear at infrequent dinner conversations or at passing social engagements. Writing allows one to channel the chaos of the individual mind into a solid form to rub against, to interlock, to resonate, to repel or repulse, to change or be changed by the forms of others. Writing will ultimately enhance by adding to the collective form that we all assume.

So, write! Don't worry. As Kerouac says "just blow and blow."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Scenes from the Forthcoming Book "Love the Destroyer"

"No input, no output" said Joe Strummer of the Clash.

For those afflicted with writer's block, write prompts take the form of a shot of adrenalin to the heart, forcing arterial action in a time of need. As seen in the strange box provided by Mr. Dunkley, sometimes you have to throw every thing you have at a problem and see what sticks.

But, the best write prompts appear from hidden places and when least expected to burn the fire inside of the writer. They arrive unbeckoned and take the choicest seat among the creative places of the mind.

Here are a host of images that stood forward to make up the novel I am writing, tentatively called Love the Destroyer:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Opening the Northwest Passage Had its Obstacles.

This is an iconic image of silent film:

Please Withhold Judgement On Others For The Obvious Reasons.
The shot is from Le Voyage Dans La Lune by Georges Meiles, an early experimenter in special effects in film.

In the early days of film, the inherent value in the content of the first "Cinemagician" was overlooked and dismissed by the general public. Meiles, although creatively adept and prolific, was behind hundreds of films displaying cutting-edge techniques. Some films existed solely to provide a vehicle for the process, much like Man Ray's experiments in avant-garde cinematography.

Sci-fi website posted an amazing clip from a century ago- the devouring ice giant of Meiles film The Conquest of the Pole.

Mieles actual troubles seemed to be a bit more pedestrian than ice golems as a large percentage of his films were melted into boot heels for the French Army during World War I after he filed for bankruptcy and was forced to work in retail in a train station.

Meanwhile, Birth of a Nation, another movie dealing in fantasy, albeit unintentionally as it elevates the Ku Klux Klan to heroic warrior status, goes on to be the highest grossing film of that era.

Just another outworking of the less-then-perfect H.L. Mencken's "booboise."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Amongst the Stones; Amidst the Sin.

At the height of my delusion in regards to joining the Explorer's Club, I felt compelled to join another association that had looser standards towards their members - the American Museum of Natural History.

Where the Explorer's Club is exclusionary, the AMNH opens its large feathery wings and gathers all sorts under its large umbrella.

Most of you may have visited and enjoyed the fruits of Theodore Roosevelt's scorched earth policy to spare no expense in bringing New Yorkers awkward stuffed specimens of grand beautiful beasts that roamed free half a world away. The Museum was the perfect moral foothold to cling to as he slaughtered his way across the world. The body count at the end was close to 12,000 beasts!

In his defense, Roosevelt said "I can be condemned only if the existence of the National Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and all similar zoological institutions are to be condemned."

So there. We ALL share the burden of those six rare white rhinos that were blunderbussed.

But one must still live even when crushed by the collective weight of our evils and the moral uncertainty of it all. 

Deep in the bowels of the Natural History Museum, there is a room that may at first seem lifeless and dull, but has a hidden virtue.

It is the Hall of Gems:
Waiting to be Zardoz-ed.

It's not very easy to get excited about ancient rocks and pebbles when there are two floors of monstrous dinosaur reconstructions immediately above you and, unless you are taking a Geology class, the act of looking at samples of anthrocite, feldspar, and granite loses its luster pretty quick.

But it is not the content of the Hall of Gems that makes it so inviting. Rather, it is the low lighting, the carpeted ampitheatre steps, and the severe unpopularity of the room that makes it the most appealing  place to study. 

It's all so very Senatorial or, actually, it's the distinct feeling one has that may be similar to the Acolytes of Plato when they lounged at his Academy, plumbing the depths in a way that only lounging lets you do.

Not unlike this:

Don't mind me, I'm plumbing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Sound Beating from my Own Ideology.

There was a brief moment in time where my life became quite open-ended and many things seemed possible through the haze of accelerated idealism.

For a short time, not very long ago, I was seriously set to take on a very long educational undertaking with the pointedly farfetched aim of receiving an advanced degree in Science for the sole purpose of going to a very remote part of the earth to make an incredibly important discovery so that I could sit in this room.
Your monocle, sir.
The fabled Explorer's Club, where adventurers and expeditionists meet over tea and whiskey to discuss the outer reaches of the known.

Notable members in history:

Roald Amundsen - Discoverer of the Northwest Passage

Ernest H. Shackleton - Adventurer in Antarctica and inspiration for the frozen Biggie Shackleton

Charles A. Lindburgh - Atlantic Ocean Traverser

Sir Edmund Hillary - Mt. Everest Climber

James Watson - Rascist DNA Discoverer

Charles E. Yeager - Spaceman

Theodore Roosevelt - Museum Afficionado 

Dian Fossey - Gorilla Studier in search of Dr. Leaky

Fantasies abounded in my mind during that phase of my life where I fancied myself as both Rudyard Kipling and Sean Connery/Michael Caine in The Man Who Would Be King or Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days or even Bertie Wooster from the Drones Club in Jeeves and Wooster.

Of course, the practical side of these flights of fancy quickly came to bear and I realized that in reality I am only somewhat and not very much of a scientific fellow at the end of the day.

I realize that discovery and exploration can come in other ways as expressed by the antithesis of the Explorer's Club, Emily Dickinson:

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!