This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.
Something magical about the moments between wakefulness and sleep. A time of vivid, free-floating images, words, phrases. I get some of my best creative ideas then—just before drifting off to sleep or upon waking. Rollo May talks about this phenomenon in The Courage to Create. How in moments of relaxation, when the controls of the conscious mind begin to slip, the unconscious is free to give birth to new forms and insights, even helping us solve problems we struggle to solve during waking hours.
An important observation: I’ve noticed these moments of insight are qualitatively different for me when I’m engaging in different types of creative activity. For example, when I’m pouring all my energies into writing, my creative insights are mostly (though not exclusively) auditory. Lines of poetry announce themselves in my mind in the middle of the night. Just on waking. Or simply when I’m going about my daily business thinking of other things (but certainly not about writing). When I’m focused on collage (like right now), these experiences are intensely visual. Sudden, unusually vibrant, dramatic scenes. Of a kind that leave a detailed imprint on my mind (and nag at me continuously) until I bring them into being. Like the collage above, “Dressing Games.” She was the first image that came to my mind, in full color, when I woke up this morning. Immediately after coffee, I set about cutting up an old sun dress so I could bring her to life.
All of this makes sense, of course. That writing is largely an auditory activity and visual art—well—a visual one. Why I think it’s interesting: Even though I’ve got a pretty good visual imagination, I have never thought in such vibrantly and poignantly visual terms before. Not until I started experimenting with collage art. The inner experience is qualitatively different. So I have to ask myself, is it possible to become a better—or more highly developed—visual thinker by engaging in the visual arts? I had never thought of visual thinking as being a plastic, or mutable, skill, but maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps I’ll research it.
Or, better yet, am I simply discovering a capacity I’ve always had but never used—never worked to develop until now? That would be fascinating and altogether wonderful if it were true! Or, I am compelled to ask myself again, is all this attributable to the same thing—a third thing? Maybe a characteristic of the unconscious mind. How it operates, communicates, exerts its influence in different spheres of our creative life. That is, maybe the unconscious and its contents can dress the part, depending on the scenario. And what appears on the surface to be two completely different modes of insight is really one, expressed in two qualitatively different ways. Much to think about. And like so many of the mysteries that lead me to respect and revere my own creativity, I hope I never quite know the answer.