Tag Archives: Creativity

On The Sightseer’s Mind: The Symbolic Complex Revisited

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I wrote about “The Symbolic Complex” a few years ago in a post entitled, “Walker Percy and the Symbolic Complex.” In no way did this post adequately capture the depth of Percy’s thought, rather it was a hasty and casual attempt to better understand his most potent idea for life-making. The main quotation that I used (from Percy’s Loss of the Creature)  was, “Impossible to see: the thing as it is, has been appropriated by the symbolic complex which has already been formed in the sightseer’s eye (47).”

The Receiver is in Control

In essays and books by communication theorist and executive consultant Lee Thayer, the idea that the receiver of any communication message is always in control of what that message means is spoken about to great lengths. It is not necessarily “the sightseer’s eye,” but rather the sightseer’s way of interpreting what is said or seen or felt or touched or tasted–the sightseer’s mind–that needs to be taken into account. What something means to a person will depend on the ways in which that mind makes meaning. Minds will make the kinds of meaning that they are equipped to make and nothing more, nothing less. In this way, it is important to be mindful of how one is interpreting something and if that way of interpreting is the best possible way of minding that thing.

Appropriation

Percy is right when he says that the raw thing-in-itself is impossible to see and in knowing this did Percy, perhaps come closer to being able to truly “see” the things of the world as they ought to be seen? Was he able to re-appropriate them to useful ends? If the receiver controls how things are interpreted given that receiver’s unique ability to comprehend and make meaning, then everything is at stake when we contemplate the symbolic complex in light of who we are speaking to and how clearly we are able to communicate.

Make Meaning

The world or the things in the world are not meaningful in and of themselves. We make them meaningful as Saint-Exupery reminded us and many echoed before and after him. What Percy is calling for is for us to seek to recover the world, to rescue it from how we habitually interpret it and, in doing so, to come to live in a new world. Practicing new ways of interpreting the familiar is an exercise most worthy of our time. It takes mindful practice and persistence to develop such a way, but what are the consequences? Would they, perhaps, be able to give us a little more control over our own thought and our own destiny? Is it the creators of the world (the purposeful interpreters) that are the ones who are able to interpret the things of the world in new and startling ways? I certainly hope so.

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10 Tips for Mindful Work

Here are 10 general mindfulness exercises for when you are working.

1. Engage yourself in your work as if your job depends on it.

2. Become the best at what you do, not the best at gabbing around the office.

3. If you finish a project early, review your work and look for ways to improve upon it.

4. A big project is filled with small tasks, which may seem menial and/or tedious, but remember that the large project can only come together through the doing of the small tasks. Do them well.

5. Learn from your co-workers by asking the right questions.

6. If you are becoming overwhelmed by your workload, consider coming to work early. A quiet office very early in the morning can be quite refreshing and may be a nurturing atmosphere for productivity.

7. An afternoon walk outside may provide a solution to that problem you are trying to work out and the stimuli may help, too.

8. Build your work competencies daily by asking questions and learning as much as you can about your current position.

9. The better you are at what you do, the more meaningful your work will be.

10. From CL wisdom, “Do the NOW well.”

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Please help me expand this list. What techniques for mindful working work for you?

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The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living: Demetri Martin’s “If I”

I haven’t spent much time with Demetri Martin’s comedy material, but through some great stroke of serendipity, stumbled across this hour-long special for the BBC, entitled “If I.” To my delight, this performance is not simply “stand-up,” but examines such things as communication, choices, life-making, creativity, meaning and thinking. Martin unpacks the word “if” and uses it to point us in the direction of how our lives are influenced by our choices and the power of imagining our lives through the “if.”

While watching this video, I couldn’t help but be drawn back to Lee Thayer when he wrote, “…there is no dynamic in what ‘is.’ What stirs the human mind to life is not what ‘is,’ but what could be, or what should be, or what might be (from “Pieces”).”

In addition, Martin uses original artwork, music and photography to help pull us into “his” world. He is a brilliant public speaker and I hope you can use this video (and the other five, which can be found on Youtube) to enhance your life in some meaningful and constructive way.

10 (+) Articles for Improving Your Mental Hygiene (Vol. 1.0)

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A list of ten articles dealing with topics such as: leading, following, awareness, mindfulness, constructive living, esoteric thought, greatness, media ecology, critical thinking, and existence.

1. Lee Thayer: There is Only One Way to Achieve Greatness
2. Mindfulness: Finding Our Own Paths: Entering Awareness
3. RAWilson: Robert Anton Wilson: Thoughts
4. Lee Thayer: Excerpt from “The Elusive Laws of Communication”
5. Lance Strate: The Creative Power of Media Ecology
6. Copyblogger: How Good are your Critical Thinking Skills?
7. Constructive Living: Constructive Living Basics
8. Walker Percy: Walker Percy WikiQuote
9. Dr. Zoltan: Dr. Zoltan’s Ideas on Creative Career
10. Mindfulness: The Leader is a Virtuoso Question Asker

What articles or blogs do you recommend for improving mental hygiene? I look forward to learning from you.

EDIT:

11. Dr. Corey Anton: Freedom, Thought, World

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A Belated Introduction to this Enterprise

Earlier this year, there was a void in my creative life. Perhaps, it was the lethargy of living for so long in a foreign country, amidst a foreign tongue, falling out of touch with artistic communities in the USA and so on. Friends leave. The day job repeats its yearly cycle. All those nice “daily life” things that happen.

On one normal Saturday afternoon, I decided to take yet another leap into social networking territory and start blogging. I chose WordPress randomly, having heard its name before and, upon signing up, enjoyed the ease of use and the interface. Around that time, I was reading books everyday, taking notes on what I was reading and, often times, re-reading the same texts for various purposes. But, I had no one to discuss my texts with and wanted someway to share my findings, to learn more about the texts by committing them to writing and hope for some kind of feedback. I wanted to develop my written “voice.” I dove into E.M. Cioran, Bernard Rudofsky, Jacques Lacan, Carl R. Rogers and others, with all my might. Their world’s came alive to me. Their feats and ideas challenged me. Explicating the reading, helped bring it to life for me. This holds true for today, too.

After exhausting myself, I started studying the styles of other bloggers. I had no idea as to the power of the blog and the great labyrinth of sites that are available, obscured by search engine optimization. The well seems to run deep. The blogs I read helped craft new articles for this blog, articles about social networking sites, publicity and Japanese culture. From this, I blended explications and Communications pieces with more “techie” articles. This was not the part of some master design, but more the workings of a mind with a lot of strings attached to it, too many limbs reaching around and finding things of interest. My sporadic pulling of different things can be seen in the piece “Crowley + Cioran + Morita,” a synthesis of three seemingly unrelated thinkers, a hopeful article.

At times, the seemingly apparent connections would slip away from me and I felt sorry for my readers, those of you kind enough to read my words and spend time with me. I have been like a whack-a-mole, popping up somewhere different just as you slam the hammer down upon my head. Hopefully, you find some comfort or value in that.

Recently, I have been working to filter down The Eyeslit-Crypt, to narrow the passage a bit more. In the recent months, I have taken great interest in writing about living and breathing people, people whom I admire and who I think are doing great things, whether in art, film, music or literature. I have written about the wonderfully prolific Ken Tanaka, America’s Funnyman, Neil Hamburger, Adult photographer/Film director Dave Naz and more. For some reason, studying other people makes me happy. I don’t mean this in a shallow “I’m so happy, its sunny today,” kind of happy, but a deep respectful happiness to see the work of someone who has sacrificed a life of ease, for a life of creative action. It is the least I can do to connect with these people and help spread their work around, work, which I truly believe in.

So, if you look to the left-hand column, you will see “The Eyeslit-Crypt Information” been altered, reconfigured and I will briefly try to explain that change. It has been broken down into three sections:

1. Creative Expression: I know this is still a large category, but basically, encompasses all forms of expression, the people who express and/or art/business that is making a difference, taking a more difficult path. It is about art that moves me or music that makes me want to go crazy (in a good way). It is also new social media tools, books, music, film and fashion.

2. Life Coaching: This includes ideas and strategies of living from Lacanian Psychoanalysis to Constructive Living. Hopefully, pieces falling under this broad category will in some way be relevant to you while you set out making your own life and facing your own personal challenges.

3. Cultural Studies: This is tied in closely with Creative Expression, but will focus more on language use, media ecology, interface humanities, sartoriasis and other topics. Awhile back, I wrote an article on the Japanese expression “KY,” which would fit nicely under the “Cultural Studies” umbrella.

I hope this brief elucidation brings together the aims and purposes of The Eyeslit-Crypt.

Some people who read “The Eyeslit-Crypt” may be wondering a little about who I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I’ll be brief, but hopefully clear. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from an American university and spent a great deal of time studying Communication Theory and Japanese. My undergraduate thesis was about the phenomenology of the garment and its relation to the human body. I have made a lot of music in my life and have albums available through records labels like Audiobot, Pac REC, Obscurica, N0-age, Impossible, Swampland and Self-Satisfied. I also have one album available through the iTunes music store. I’ve been behind the camera as an actor for many non-nationally distributed and viral films/videos. I’ve written and directed some of those films, too. Contact me if you want to see them. You may get a laugh out of them or not.

I have worked in corporate marketing, participated in training seminars and conducted face-to-face training/advising with corporate backing. A bit scattered, but relevant, I spent one week working closely with the Australian rock band AC/DC, translated four chapters of a Japanese philosophy book from Japanese to English, played concerts in Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea.

Well, these are the things that come to mind at this point as some of the more memorable things that I have done. I know that they are just fragments, but hopefully they will give you some insight into where I’m coming from, experientially.

Thank you for lending me your attention.

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Constructive Creativity


In this post, I will again dive into the work of mental health professional Carl R. Rogers from his essay, “Toward a Theory of Creativity.” I will try to provide you with an adequate understanding of his work via my understanding of the text. If you have read Rogers and wish to comment on his ideas of creativity, be my guest, the conversation is yours.

Social Need and Creative Process

We live in an age where the roles of active-creator and passive-receiver are changing. With various social media sites and free software applications, one can produce movies, which can be uploaded or share beautiful photographs for free with others. There is a social need to create lest we sink into actless consumerism. The reading of books can change our ways of perceiving the world and the active creation of books or essays can also greatly affect us in myriad ways. Us humans seem to find ourselves in our creations, the vortex of creativity arises from us, comes into us and colors our world.

The “creative process” as Rogers defines it can be broken down into two parts. The first is that there must be “an observable product of creation.” That is to say, the musician, instead of rehearsing the song only in the confines of the body’s interior, brings it out through the fingers or through the voice. The designer fashions a table or a draft of the table on paper. “Creativity” enters the picture when we examine the tools and the product of the imagination as it exists in reality in accord with other actual creations that exist in the world. That is, we recognize the once-occurrence of the piece of art or of the live speaker’s speech as novel, as something authentic, as something coming from the true part of one’s self and not from a false space.

Actualization and Inner Conditions

Human, the incomplete animal, tends toward actualization. The painter leaving the painting half-finished may be haunted by the forgotten project that could have been. The musician sets a goal of completing an album or of crafting a stellar live show. In doing this, the person moves into the realm of the creative, of actualizing an imagined work and breathing life into it, animating it. Moreover, there seems to be a tendency for us to want to perform to our potential. To be caught in a job that you don’t like may mean quitting the job or it may mean to more fully utilize your potential on the job. In either way, the lagging feeling that you are not doing in accord with your potential may usher in and pester the imagination, sometimes fruitfully and other times not. However, where there is “open-ness” to the situation and to and with others, the results of one’s creative endeavors may flourish with felicity.

The inner conditions, which promote creativity include “extensionality,” “an inner locus of evaluation” and “the ability to play.” Extensionality is Rogers’ term for this “open-ness” to reality. It is to be fluid, to bend and sway with one’s life situations and learn from them. The internal locus of evaluation is the recognition that only one can truly judge oneself and one’s own performance. That is, for example, after performing a concert, the musician needs to be able to fairly examine the performance and try to come to see it an a balanced way. Moreover, there should be the ability to play with the materials at hand, to brainstorm to create without evaulation, to let what wants to emerge, come out and develop under your guiding hand.

The Creative Act

But, what about the creative act? What happens in the play known as “the creative act?” Think about your favorite musician and what that musician seeks to create, what that musician seeks to construct. Maybe, if you are like me, you find yourself listening to Austrian experimental guitar music. What exactly did this experimental guitarist/composer wish to bring to life? Whatever it is, perhaps you can sense the essence of the piece, the images that stir in your mind, the blurry outlines becoming crisp, the image becoming clearer and clearer upon closer listening.

When we listen to that musician, we become aware that we have entered that musician’s world, that the “I” of that musician is communicating with our very own “I.” Similarly, what makes a certain film stick with us. What gives a marvelous film, its marvelous qualities. Whose vision is the film? When we watch a David Lynch film, even if we don’t know that it is a David Lynch film, we can tell by the way the characters interact, by the music, by the atmosphere…We can sense the “I” of Lynch himself through the fantasy world of cinema.

Factors for Considering Constructive Creativity

In closing, for Rogers there are roughly four factors that foster constructive creativity. The first, “individual as unconditional worth,” sees the individual as a once-occurrent event, an ever-changing worlding moment. The second factor wishes to alleviate any forms of external evaluation. That is, the school teacher would have to stop comparing grades for grades only work to block the creative process of the student by pitting student against student, student against parent, student against teacher or student versus self. The third factor is empathic understanding of the other, an acceptance of the other as he or she is, which promotes a willingness to share and to express. The fourth and final factor would be allowing the other person complete symbolic expression. In this way, the person may write a poem about a specific traumatizing situation instead of reacting violently toward a real flesh-and-blood other. Or, the writer may write about a powerful experience, that is, expressing it through a symbolic medium. This is freeing.

Thank you very much for reading. Have a creative and productive day.

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