This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.
Spent most of the day reading. And writing in between spurts of cookie-making. Ricotta cookies. Nothing tastes more like Christmas. Except maybe my aunt’s lasagna, a big slice of ham, and a glass of the Dago Red that was bottled in the neighbor’s basement. Ah. Memories. And very fond ones this time of year. But, I digress…
Picked up a copy of Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception after doing some perception-related research online. (Was also looking into the cultural significance, beyond LSD, of psychedelic aesthetics.) Was Maslow’s chapter on psychological health—the traits of self-actualizing folks—and the heavy emphasis on perception as a distinguishing/determining factor that really got me going. So much so that it seems to have inspired poetry. Another “turntable poem,” as I’ve begun calling them. Like Seven Road, Speakeasy, even Banshee. (Was initially referring to them as “prophet poems” in my mind.) But, I was interested in this topic anyway. In some ways, desiring to make sense of my own visualizations. And their role not only in my creative processes, but also as a (potential) source of knowledge.
But, perhaps, I am overvaluing my own inner experiences. The patterns that often emerge as a result of being an intensely visual thinker. Those that sometimes feel as if they have an otherworldly quality. After an exceptionally immersive read, engaging with a work of art, even music (often music), the flash of imagery. The form that seems to burn itself—to imprint itself indelibly—into the blackness of my mind. A shape. A color. A geometry. A point or series of points. Sometimes moving, sometimes still. A luminescent spray of color(s) from end to end. But, this is how some people think. This is how I think. But, I didn’t always think this way. That’s why Huxley’s work is so interesting to me. Of course, it all revolves around his experiments with LSD. And the conclusion that artists have an innate ability to see the essence of things, a unique form of inner and outer perception:
What the rest of us see only under the influence of mescalin, the artist is congenitally equipped to see all the time. His perception is not limited to what is biologically or socially useful…For the artist as for the mescalin-taker draperies are living hieroglyphs that stand in some peculiarly expressive way for the unfathomable mystery of pure being. – Aldous Huxley
The visions that, for many of us, give rise to creativity. For me, often to some form of creative criticism. I want to re-imagine the work that inspired me to conform to the picture in my mind. Or to re-envision an idea or amalgam of personal experiences. Almost solely intuitive work. It fascinates me that some of us have this ability. Though, I often ask myself if the image I see with my mind’s eye—the inscape, as Huxley calls it—is truly a source of valuable information. Or, is it just a pretty picture signifying nothing? (Note: Reflect more deeply on the notion of biologically or socially useful vision. Related to Maslow’s “second naïveté.”)
But, one cannot think too rationally about these inner images, I’ve learned. They should be respected as operating outside of the rational mind. As a source of aid and enrichment. (Of this, I must remind myself.) My intuition tells me that they are a source of information. Useful information. That they culminate in profoundly gratifying creative activity, perhaps, should be enough.
And, yet, I can’t help but want to put Huxley’s thoughts on creative vision together with Maslow’s ideas on efficiency/freshness of perception in self-actualizers. A thought: Perhaps the latter’s concept of “peak experiences” is not at all different from the kind of colorful, ecstatic seeing Huxley talks about (of the non-drug-induced sort). Tied to the sacred? All so strikingly similar.
But, I am afraid these relationships are best explored in detail another day. Once I’ve finished Huxley’s “Heaven and Hell.” And once we’ve all slowed down a bit from the pace of the season. So, for now, a goodnight and a Merry Christmas to you all.