Friday, July 30, 2010

It was as if the earth was bleached each evening and spun dry. Each dawn found less richness and color in the world, the sun’s rays a little dimmer, less warming; the roiling clouds darker, more menacing. In the kennel, the dogs` growls had become whimpers, as if they knew what was to come, something greater than their ferocity. The barn cats seldom ventured from the back stalls; in fact the man realized that he hadn’t seen any cats outside in days. Until the darkness he was greeted at the kitchen door each morning by many of the cats who seemed to be hoping for an early start to breakfast.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


……the only way to work on perfection is in the form of an objective work that is fully under your control and is perfectible in some real ways. Either you eat up yourself or others around you, trying for perfection, or you objectify that imperfection in a work, on which you then unleash your creative powers. In this sense, some kind of objective creativity is the only answer man has to the problem of life. In this way, he satisfies nature, which asks that he live and act objectively as a vital animal plunging into the world; but he also satisfies his own distinctive human nature because he plunges in on his own symbolic terms and not as a reflex of the world as given to mere physical sense experience. He takes in the world, makes a total problem out of it, and then gives a fashioned, human answer to that problem. This, as Goethe saw in Faust, is the highest that man can achieve.

{Ernest Becker, “The Denial of Death”, page 185.}

Freud also saw the value of creativity in the individual’s struggle to defend himself against being overwhelmed by his knowledge of his mortality. He believed that all of man`s defenses arise from that most primal defense, that of pure repression. Be they hysterical, intellectual, obsessive, compulsive, depressive, etc. postures, man must limit his conscious knowledge of his mortality by restricting his lived experience to a safe existence shared by the vast majority of his common man. Yet Freud, perhaps influenced by his single-minded devotion to his life project, understood sublimation, the ability to cathect neurotic energy into creativity, as the one defensive posture that seemed to have no life-diminishing properties.

Unfortunately, I believe, that very creative process that allows man to live a less “neurotic” life comes with a terrible burden. The very striving to leave something of value behind, to outlive us, brings into clearer focus the dilemma of our mortality. As the Artist, in Rank’s sense, attempts to create, he becomes terrified at his temerity in doing what is God`s work. It is here that many artists shrink from their creative urges, and fall back on their more neurotic defenses in order to shield themselves. Some others bow to their lack of courage through psychotic breaks with reality.

I`ve always found it interesting that Freud and Jung had such terrible panic attacks when approaching Rome. Yet neither man seemed able to relate their terror to the symbology of Rome as the seat of a major religion. Because of his devotion and single-mindedness to psychoanalysis, Freud seemed unable to reach a personal resolution with nature and its Creator. Even Jung, who always relied on God, could still faint away with the burden of life.

For me, what ultimately resolves the terror inherent in sublimation for many artists is their understanding of their place in the Creator’s plan. As Becker describes the insight of Rank and Kierkegaard in regards to creativity and immortality, ……”one should not stop and circumscribe his life with beyonds that are near at hand, or a bit further out, or created by oneself. One should reach for the highest beyond of religion; man should cultivate the passivity of renunciation to the highest powers no matter how difficult it is. Anything less is less than full development, even if it seems like weakness and compromise to the best thinkers”………. {Becker, op cit, page 174.}

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Two Creeps!

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