Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Mystery of Creation Resides in the Watery Depths

Mystery resides, not on the surface,
 but in the watery depths *
CC Jean Stimmell: 7/31/13

In my last post, I talked about the bewitchment of our intelligence by language: about how, in today’s modern society, we place too much importance on abstract thinking, on cognition…on words themselves:

“Disavowing the infinite richness of our primal selves, we are now trying to subsist on abstract knowledge alone, a thin gruel made up solely of words, words and more words, building blocks upon which we have built an empty edifice which we have arrogantly proclaimed to be the one and only reality – and had it blessed by our newest incarnation of our supreme god whose name is Science.”

Artists, however, have always worshiped a different god, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. According to Jung, the real source of their art originates neither merely from sensory input or abstract thought but from a far deeper and richer place. Rather than the artist being the creator of art, the opposite is true: it is art that creates the artist (the artist has no choice: irrepressible symbolic images surge up out of the collective unconscious and demand expression). As Jung has written:

“Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him.”[1]

Artists, who are tapped into this deeper and richer place, have always questioned the ultimate power of words, as this quote by Virginia Wolfe makes clear:

“Now this is profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A signal, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it; and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working (which has apparently nothing to do with words) and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it.”[2]

[1] Modern Man in Search of a Soul
[2] Woolf, Virginia. The Letters of Virginia Woolf Volume 3: 1923-1928. (1977), page 247

* This photograph, taken while standing on the mossy bank of Wild Goose Pond, captures the reflections from the sky and the overhanging hemlock trees, all magically distorted by gentle, incoming waves.
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