Friday, October 29, 2010

Creative Technique: Power of the “Vague Whole Word”

Poets and writers and inventors and discoverers are driven by words. The poet is motivated by a phrase, the writer by an idea represented by a word, the inventor has a term that describes a potential device, and the discoverer is looking for a mythical place or solution promised in a magical name.

History has been driven by words: Freedom, liberty, equality, democracy, justice, individuality, fraternity, peace, human...

In addition to these universal terms, today we have new words to drive history forward: Environment, planet, wholes, diversity, creativity...

In many cases words are the starting point of the creative process. A word might house within itself a potential idea that can only be found by a process of work. The word does not immediately bring clarity but over time a definite shape appears.

This special kind of word is a “Subsume” a tangled and fused thing that offers us potential but is at first in a state of confusion. This word hints to us and beckons to us. And we pursue this word because it has a hypnotic power over us. (see article, Creative Technique Series, The Subsume)

Our intuition tells us that here is a solution or creative breakthrough, if only we work on this word. If we are diligent, it will reveal to us something powerful and marvelous.
And often if we persevere, the inkling blossoms into the living detail of a complex organism.

Both personal and social processes benefit from this evolution of the word. The dynamic created by a word drives not only artists but also history.

In particular, the notions of vagueness, the whole and the word reappear again and again when trying to start and build new lifestyles, social organizations and institutions in their early phases.

Creativity comes out of the VAGUE. The sphere mind (creative mind) prefers vagueness and generality.

Also, creativity comes out of the WHOLE, we begin with a confused notion of something, but we know it is a whole. Out of one thing many parts will elaborate, we know this, but in the early stages these are unclear. The mature whole is in potential when we contemplate it; it inspires us; we have a feeling of infinite horizons.

And, out of a WORD comes creativity. The sphere mind, the imaginative person creates a new word to describe something, the content of this thing is unknown, but the word houses this thing. The word spurs an investigation, a creative production to fill up this empty form, to give it meaning. (The thread mind – logical mind -- will not use words in this way. A word must from the beginning have a precise meaning. Sloppy terms undermine the concise logic of thread mind systems and plans.)

Oddly enough, these three things, “Vague, Whole and Word” often go to together in creative processes. Elaboration out of the vague-whole-word or “VWW” brings specific ideas, methods, skills, strategies, organizational forms, departments, divisions, institutions, and specific schools of thought. From the “VWW” the particularities and the parts of the whole emerge from the confused embryonic whole.

We find new specific ideas and new words too. Our glossary expands from the original simple word that initially charmed us.

If you look at the evolution of sciences, systems, ideologies and philosophies you will see this process of evolution from the inspiring word into a rich and mature system, into a complex lexicon.

This is how the vague whole word process works. The inspiring word drives us forward until we have actualized as much potential as we can (at least for a certain social stage or life stage). At a certain point we can rest for we have achieved our goal. We can tell ourselves that we have accomplished our mission; we have a great creative product because a little seed has brought itself into full fruition.

The mature and last stage of the Vague Whole Word 
The VWW is a highly productive state of imagination. But at a certain point, we have the loss of the vague-whole-word, at a certain point the VWW gets murky, we lose our way, the brilliant, energized starting point dims. When once we were full of hope, now we find ourselves in precision rather than vagueness, now, we are very sharp, very thread-minded.

Before us we find a complex whole, managed and operating well, impressive, efficient, productive, and yet we have lost something. Also, we find that the general word has given birth to a thousand specific words, and our simple original glossary is now a monstrous text of innumerable terms and words, and the volume of our success causes us to lose our original inspiration and faith, and now we are hemmed in by too many words.

We have lost our creativity; we have too many rules, too many authorities, too many details, too many masters. We have engineered a “bureaucracy of creativity”; we are in the final stage of this creative process. This happens to artists and creative people, and in social evolution as well. This is the life cycle of “the word”.

In culture and history, the VWW becomes lost in the latter stages of evolution of a culture, theory or organization, it is a natural thing, and it means we have been successful. At the same time the seeds of destruction are sprouting, the creative project is nearing its failure, for nothing fails like success -- and in reverse, nothing has the spirit of success more than the vulnerable and young beginning.

Returning to the original word
Can we save the creative project from its moribund logic? Sometimes we must find a new vague whole word and begin again on a new creative project. We see artists and thinkers doing this frequently. They leave behind their creations, they declare new identities. They are inspired once again after a long period of “productive” sleep and rich tedium.

In other cases, we cannot simply abandon our work. The riches provided by the word cannot be deleted by the need for novelty. The gains that we have made cannot be destroyed or left idle. Here we are thinking mainly of institutions, sciences, technologies, and economies.

When we become jaded and cynical about values and behaviors, we can try to return to an earlier frame of mind. We can return to an original state and its original feelings – appearing in past days of the vague, the whole and the word. The first word created a revolution and drove humanity to create an elaborate world. But eventually this world becomes dull and lifeless, cluttered and paralyzed.

In terms of theory and ideas, we must return to the vagueness of the original myth, to feel its power, to feel its simple and imprecise yet infinite possibility. We have lost our optimism and what we need anew is to feel the word’s revolutionary hope.  Otherwise we no longer have a goal or energy or purpose. We are simply existing in our “uncreative creation”.

This state we are reverting to may be called naïve, childlike, idealistic and impractical. And in a way it is. Further, this state exists in that boundary region between fact and fiction, logic and illogic. Here live those behaviors that are neither reason nor emotion, and both – intuition, faith, improvisation, even premonition. We are living not in the actual but in the potential, in what can be, not what is. The original vague whole word returns to us all of these behaviors, it make us alive again, and thus gives us the power to reinvigorate our world and start the creative cycle again.

So when facing elaborated organizations and institutions, of course, they cannot generally be dismantled for they are necessary for the most part, but the original forms and attitudes can be resurrected, given new emphasis.

We can return to a mental state when things were smaller but we had larger horizons, when things were unclear but when we had more clarity, and when we had more personal power though we did not have huge organizations. In the potential is a great deal of energy, the energy that tries to actualize the potential.

We can create a new “organizing principle”. We have a developed world of so many things, but these things require reorganization. Perhaps some destruction is necessary but for the most part we want to preserve our gains. A new mission, new plan, and new dream are in order.

More, we can try to reorganize ourselves into smaller communities so that our alienation and disconnection is ended. The sheer magnitude of our creations will dwarf the individual. When once life was on a smaller scale, we had more communication and control, so we should return to a new kind of organization of the large composed of the small.

In some way, we must return to the first VVW state, going back to original confused organizations, where leaders and rank and file were one, where all departments were one, where all localities were one, where all goals were one, all methods were one and so on.

We have become disconnected and alienated from each other by our sheer success; we now have social sectarianism and stratification. We do not know each other. In the worst situation we have many opportunities for opportunists. Even in the best situations, we have coldness, self absorption and bureaucracy.

So we can look at history as a VWW process, and this yields a focus on connection and community. We are going back to the beginning when there was smallness, simplicity and direct relationship.

Even ritualized returns can help, that is, the formation of rituals that bring us periodically back to the original vague-whole-word state when all was fresh, powerful, full of possibilities, and driven by faith. In the VWW state is inspiration, infinite evolution, and great creativity. People are mobilized, revolutions are made, minds are stimulated, control is broken, and hearts and souls are liberated.

The creative process starts as a vague-whole-word then proceeds to a mature stage of the elaborated, defined, complex, “lexiconed” whole. And if we are smart, and still true to our original aims, we will then return to the original VWW state in some way to recapture the spirit of creativity and élan vital.

Cage Innoye 
Axxiad News

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