This post was formatted to reflect an original journal entry.
I’ve been working through a creative phase. Poetry. Always comes in spates, or surges. Then I rest. Return to Maslow, Rogers. Though, I find myself currently alternating between this post and another shapely piece of poetry. Spent the day in the kitchen. A long, slow minestrone. (I always prefer to make my own stock when I have the time. Makes the entire experience feel more holistically crafted, generous, full.) Alternating between Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits. In full embrace of a pleasant autumn lull.
Skimming A Way of Being. Rogers discussing education, defining “person-centered” approaches to teaching and psychotherapy. All feelings. Unconditional acceptance of another and of oneself. Noninterference. Refusal to impose one’s will on another. I recall Maslow discussing these same ideas at length in his journal. Saw noninterference and non-judgment as indicators of self-actualization. Several posts ago, I asked if it was possible to have a therapeutic or therapeutic-type relationship with oneself. I realize now that was the wrong question to ask. Seems that relationship is the goal for Rogers. Unconditional acceptance of oneself, awareness of one’s full range of feelings, thoughts, totality of experience, genuineness. But, Rogers is focused on the interpersonal. Interpersonal/group relationships and dynamics as being conducive to holistic learning.
My biggest question: Is the experiencing and acceptance of emotion the only kind of feeling that need be fostered by holistic education? To my mind, the answer is no. I then ask myself immediately if the capacity for the particular kind of feeling to which I am referring can be taught. Not sure it can be…
It is, of course, the feeling of the material I’m talking about. The experience of it. The aesthetics. The energy. The color. The vibrancy and intensity. Shapes, gradients, movements. Why I love reading Freud. I am far less concerned, as I am reading, with the merits of the ideas as presented and far more engaged with the wild and wonderful aspects of the reading itself. So colorful. So alive. Makes me want to create feverishly. Make something beautiful almost as a tribute. Is this an odd thing to say?
To be driven to create out of the beauty of an inner experience. Because the most profoundly beautiful works or art, to me—visual and literary—are those that afford me an unforgettable inner experience. And I feel compelled to reproduce it, to communicate it to the world somehow. It’s an unparalleled freshness. A vibrancy. An opening. Always explosions of color. I think this must be a creative kind of vision. A seeing differently. Both ways. And, to my mind, such a fundamental part of creativity. And of holistic learning. But, perhaps I’m wrong on the last point. My mind reverts to Maslow’s discussions of rubricized perception, attention, and learning. That which is highly structured, fits into predetermined molds. Hierarchies. Using predictable models of problem-solving. Not novel or spontaneous. He believes artists perceive in a non-rubricized fashion:
To put it as briefly as I can, they seem to be able to see each sunset, each flower, or each tree with the same delight and awe and full attention and strong emotional reaction as if this were the first sunset or flower or tree they had ever seen…An honest artist can retain the sense of the miraculous even after [a] thousand experiences. – A. H. Maslow
But, isn’t this kind of vibrant inner experience—this mode of feeling and seeing, of engaging with concepts and works of art—the source of that feeling of awe? Precisely what I discussed in On Creativity and the Sacred, being able to see the miraculous in our daily lives. All the little miracles, the wonders, the beauty, the godlike. Everywhere. Including within ourselves. A related thought: is it possible to experience our emotions in this same way–with a visual, or otherwise sensory, analog? Can that be part of self-awareness? Seeing?
To my mind, a holistic kind of vision. The object and its feeling. Together. In a unitive-type experience. I can’t get excited about learning without it. When forced to operate in only one dimension. I imagine other creatives feel this way. Perhaps, one reason we often resort to daydreaming when real life forces us into colorless circumstances. Back to my original query: can the aesthetics of a learning experience be taught? And do they matter? What would Rogers say? I think Maslow would say, yes. Put differently: can one grow into this kind of creative perception—a possible result of more holistic evolutions in consciousness over time? I think, yes. Perhaps, then, I’ve found the answer I was looking for.