I'm realizing, via the duality (even more than two aspects) of the self, that I am the performer and the audience (and the critic). I am the voice and the listener (and the editor). I am the creator and the beloved (and the destructive). From a jungian point of view, one of these aspects of self may grow to become stronger than the others. For me, it has been the self that is critic, editor and destructive. It has been a path of self disregard in my art-making and avoiding the embodiments of voice, ear, hand, heart, dance, and the body that feels the result of these embodiments.
Seven years ago, when I first arrived in Denver, I met a man who, after we had become friends, told me he has intuitive abilities. Because he was exploring this ability as a second career, he asked if he could practice with me as the subject. I gladly obliged. I've always loved hearing about myself and thinking about myself! He said many great and grave things about me as we sat facing each other with our eyes closed. He didn't describe my history or my future and he didn't ask questions other than to ask if what he was saying sounded familiar to me. He described visions that he could see in and around my body. One of the most poignant that has stayed with me since then was his description of a misty, lavender cloud around my head that was creative energy. He spoke of my brain holding a sharp and perfect diamond, a representation of my honed and perfected intellect. He told me that the creative aura was meant to be embodied, but as long as the diamond continued to be my priority, that separation would remain between my body and the creative.
My head, my rationality, my intellect, my ego - the diamond - all of these things are so highly valued in the world, but perhaps these as foundation are flimsier than we understand and keep us from living a wholehearted existence. I am fearful of letting any other aspect of myself guide me and direct my work because the intuitive, creative essence may be perceived as wild and chaotic. The reality is, as long as I focus on the diamond, which needs no more perfecting, I forget the heart, the body, the soul, the spirit, the unknowing knower, the Intuitive that is me. What may be perceived as wild and chaotic is, in fact, the creative self, the one who knows without knowing
Recently, I listened to an inspiring interview between Krista Tippett (interviewer of radio show/podcast On Being) and Artist - self titled, Maker, Ann Hamilton. Ms Tippett said that it is "humanizing when we rediscover [needlepoint, knitting, hand-crafts, etc.]" in a discussion with Ann Hamilton about her work as a textile artist. Ms. Hamilton talks about it as "embodied knowledge." The making, the putting on of the hands and trusting one's intuition to make the thing that exists from somewhere inside you, this is a kind of knowing. It is not revered in our society's traditions because it is not cerebral. Unfortunately, we can get stuck in the process of art-making at that moment when we realize we are in the body and not in the head. Ann Hamilton discusses this as the moment when we "give it away" because it is not understood, we couldn't complete the work, it was impossible to describe or prove.
[W]hen you’re making something, you don’t know what it is for a really long time. So, you have to kind of cultivate the space around you, where you can trust the thing that you can’t name. And, if you feel a little bit insecure, or somebody questions you, or you need to know what it is, then what happens is you give that thing that you’re trying to listen to away. [S]o how do you kind of cultivate a space that allows you to dwell in that — not knowing, really[?] That [which] is actually really smart. And can become really articulate. But, you know, like the thread has to come out, and it comes out at its own pace.
In this interview (please listen!), I find that Krista Tippett and Ann Hamilton are describing the wild and the chaos that I fear, but they are describing it in much more humble and settled reality. I have felt anxious about releasing into my creative power because I have worried that the power would hit me like a tidal wave! In reality, I am already doing the work that is the wild and the chaos and it is as quiet as I need it to be so that I can breathe the wildness and relax into the realm of unknowing. I am making quilts by which I immerse myself in color and repetition and process. I am making cross-stitch images that offer me time for intense meditation and thinking.
Regarding this realization about the wild as quiet and the chaos as freedom, this is what Tippet and Hamilton's discussion has left with me:
- The work has to come at its own pace.
- When the articulation hasn't yet come and it's too early to define the work, cultivate the space around it and protect the unknowing.
- Dwell in the not-knowing and resist giving it away before you come to know how to articulate.
- Believe that your embodied knowledge (the knowledge of the senses and of the soul) has authority.
- The wilderness is medicine, chaos offers freedom, and neither were ever in effect to harm.