In Creative Combination

There are moments in which I believe I exist within tightly defined limits. Moments in which I am conscious that I must expand my conception of myself, of my capabilities, and the bounds of my personality. In these moments, I experience a heightened awareness of self–of the woman I am and am in the process of becoming. Of the woman who is, and perhaps, will always remain partially, not yet. In these moments, I am moved, compelled by an inner force, to express this totalizing lust for potential–to write spontaneous compositions such as this one–loose, unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness, and gritty. In these moments, I desire nothing more than to express a feeling of inward expansion. A perception that my inner world is vast, deep, and connected, yet uniquely and beautifully solitary. New. That what may keep many of us from recognizing our own newness, our own not-yetness, may lie in an inability to see ourselves imaginatively. To forge our own patterns. Make our own myths. To exist in state I have begun to think of as creative combination.

In a move toward greater self-understanding, I have recently begun contemplating the value of myth. Of those stories which should help me feel more deeply rooted in my own humanity. Of myth and identity. Of creativity and science. Of creating from scientific theory and making my own little self-study in the field of psychology richer, more creative, more multidimensional, more alive for myself. I published a post last Sunday in which I began to approach a few of these topics–beginning with myth–and promptly deleted it because it didn’t say what I wanted it to say. The framework for the discussion was wrong. And, if I’m going to be honest, I was being a little disingenuous. So, I’d like to start over. Unprompted. In new combination.

I don’t love myth. I have a very hard time identifying with it intimately. Not goddesses. Not saints, nor angels. Not monarchs or other archetypal or secular heroines. My problem with myth, as I see it, is less one of like or dislike and far more a matter of affinity and incorporation. That is, I can’t seem to internalize the plots and characters of myth without wanting to change them. It’s impossible. Just to think of it–to think for a moment–that I might conceive of myself, on the deepest and most intimate levels, as being composed of a bunch of goddesses and demons, of an amalgam of archaic urges, makes my entire spirit revolt. No way. Not ever. The deterministic, regressive function of myth. Perhaps, I should, as Rollo May suggests in The Cry for Myth, try to envision mythic influence through a lens of potential–the same lens of potential through which I view the rest of my being:

Myths are a breaking through of greater meaning which was not present before. The myth in this respect is the way of working out the problem on a higher level of integration. This is the progressive function of myth. – Rollo May

I can accept some determinism. I do believe, as May suggests, that the acceptance of certain deterministic influences on one’s life and one’s psyche is a source of freedom. But, I also believe that there is, within some of us–creative folks, in particular–a constant need to be molding ourselves. To be morphing, regenerating, and evolving. To take subconscious material and, to the degree it is possible, expose and innovate with it. It occurs to me that some of us cannot simply ingest information. Cannot take on the role of passive learner, of rote memorizer, and re-hasher of someone else’s ideas without making them new. Without making them ours.

It’s as if our sense of self is too strong. I, for one, cannot or will not (as a matter of integrity) learn new material if I cannot make it mine. If I cannot create with it. I will not incorporate ideas, habits, or best practices into my repertoire of daily activities if I cannot alter them to conform to my sensibilities. If I cannot hold them in creative combination with other aspects of my life, identity, and thinking. My capacity for original thinking hinges on creative combination. As does, it would seem, the rest of my being. I cannot be myself if I cannot exist in a constant, fluid state of combining. Indeed, I feel much the same way about discussions of behaviorism and neuroscience as I do about myth. It does not feel natural to me to speak of myself in empirical statements. Not if I can’t transform them into art. Not if I can’t impose on them my own creative will and imagination. Not if I can’t retain just a touch of my own, self-chosen, delectable chaos.

I ask myself if the free-form of this post isn’t difficult to bear. My thoughts are indeterminate, still very much coming into a shape of their own. Yet, the only thing I can think of at this moment–as I cozy up in a local coffee shop, sipping espresso, listening to fresh jazz in my headphones, contemplating what it means to exist in a state of creative combination–is Freud. I am currently reading New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. It is sitting beside me while I write. As an undergraduate psychology major, I used to stow myself away in the basement of the university library and read Freud late into the night. Freud and Karen Horney. Until closing time, when I was inevitably asked to leave. I imagine I would’ve slept there if I could have. This is the first book of Freud’s I’ve read in 15 years. I want to re-read The Interpretation of Dreams next. It’s the spirit of innovation that moves me. The intense creativity. The color. The energy that leaps off the page and instantly allows me to feel expanded, full, in wild and wonderful combination.

7 thoughts on “In Creative Combination

  1. I enjoyed this very much. And I noticed that you had deleted your last post because I went back to reread it (the first time I read it I was asleep mentally after a long weekend away from home), and it was gone. I have deleted posts a few times … but, just so you know, I enjoyed reading it. I have always struggled with myth, which is the one difficulty I have had with Jung and with contemporary Jungian authors who emphasize myth. I’m going to think about what you have written here regarding myth. The phrase that came to mind as I read this post was “process of disocovery,” which is how I feel about much of what you write. I have been reading and rereading parts of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams for years, because all of me says that it is important. I have also read, at the same time, some of Freud’s letters to Wilhelm Fliess, which he wrote while he was writing the book. Another book that might interest you, or which you might already have read, is Becoming Freud by Adam Phillips. Phillips is one author who, for me, reading him is an experience. In my personal writing experiences, free-form writing is the best way for form to create itself on the page.

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    1. Thank you very much for the feedback on this and the previous (now deleted) post. I haven’t read the Phillips book, but I’ll look into it. It makes me smile that “process of discovery” is the phrase this post brings to mind. Myth has been a struggle for me when considering Jung and some contemporary Jungians, also. I include Joseph Campbell, whose work as a scholar I greatly respect, here. Periodically, I try to revisit the subject of myth and related topics with an open mind, wondering how or if my views might change over time. Although, they haven’t…at least not yet.

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  2. “My thoughts are indeterminate, still very much coming into a shape of their own.“

    I’ve felt this way for the majority of the year, and quite truthfully it was myth that sent me into a whirlwind of new revelation that I am still struggling to articulate, groping for language that would enable me to explain simply where my thoughts are traveling within my own being. To explain rationally to my school aged children what I am reading, comprehending and digesting. But until I make it my own, there is no way to pass it on in story, no way to communicate the ideas. I love your thoughts, and appreciate your perspective. So many of your posts seem to take my incoherent thoughts and put them into words beautifully, helping me to arrange my own chaos into artful expression.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback! It is wonderful to know that others can relate to this kind of grappling with issues of self-understanding, identification, and creativity. Sometimes, I think creativity–and the accompanying desire for a little (or more than just a little) touch of chaos–is really what makes grappling with these issues so complicated. Although, I’m not sure I’d trade it in for anything. Thank you again for the thoughtful comment!

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  3. “I am moved, compelled by an inner force, to express this totalizing lust for potential” — seems like we’re moving in similar thought circles these days, if possibly in opposite directions (it’s all about the cycle, though, I come around or switch directions ever few weeks). Currently, I’m experimenting with forceful minimalism in prose as a way of committing to the page otherwise ephemeral or ambivalent thoughts (forceful paradoxes are beautiful). I’m learning there’s something liberating in not equivocating.

    (Also, just bought a book by Jung. And really enjoyed Freud’s “Interpretation of Dreams” about fifteen years ago…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s wonderful to meet someone who is captivated by the same ideas! I believe I also move in cycles. What you say about your experiments in minimalism intrigues me…Forceful paradoxes are beautiful. Thank you for the comment. Enjoy Jung. 😊

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