Monday, July 26, 2010

one as yet

Originality is difficult, improbable. It’s best to just seek to express what you have to express, let others worry about the originality. Is what you have to show fullfilling?

The road to that may be long. I go through periods of feeling I have nothing to say anymore; also, periods of knowing I have something I deeply want to say, but don’t know what it is. Elated, I write to find out.

Other times, deeply wanting to say something, I’m not ready to try: Words just don’t arrive, yet. But that doesn’t mean I have some general problem with expressiveness; only that what I want to do is yet to arrive.

This is common with writers. Ironically, the writer may write slowly (though conversely, the writer may zip along, inspired). It’s common that words are difficult for someone drawn to write.

A talent may be substantial, but its creativity is not yet producing (especially when one’s younger). This might be especially the case with talents that aren’t yet venturing the road they need to live first, or they’re not yet at home in their medium, e.g., a visual talent or a musical talent
in a world of words, too much away from their own means. So, she (I choose a gender) goes years believing she’s inept, when, in reality,
she’s not in her element.

And also, she may have not yet finished a dark night of the abyss through which she finds her own light.

The well-known psychiatrist, Kay R. Jamison, who writes extensively about her struggles with depression, quotes Herman Melville:
The intensest light of reason and revelation combined, can not shed such blazonings upon the deeper truths in man, as will sometimes proceed from his own profoundest gloom. Utter darkness is then the light....Wherefore is, that not to know Gloom and Grief is not to know aught that an heroic man should learn.
Jamison quoting Melville is quoted by a psychological researcher, James R. Averill, writing about “emotional creativity.” Averill has been working for years with an assessment tool he developed, the Emotional Creativity Inventory (discussed in “Emotional Creativity,” Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, 2009, ch. 23).

Part of the results of his research indicate that a potentially very creative person who is having difficulty with emotional expression may show assessment results that are the same as a noncreative person who has a disabling difficulty with emotional expression. (If the creative person tends to devalue herself, she can easily mistake the difficulty of expression for a disabling condition, rather than as a sign of her need to venture her own way for a long time before she’s fruitful.) He writes (252):
People who are emotionally creative as well as those with alexithymia have difficulty identifying and describing their emotional experiences.... However, the source of the difficulty is different for the two conditions. For people with alexithymia, the difficulty stems from an impoverished inner life; for emotionally creative persons, it stems from the complexity and originality of their experiences.
For example, reading widely in literature may fill one’s sensibility with so much wealth of yet-unshaped material that one may feel like running away from the overwhelming feeling, just to have peace of mind, when the reality is a wonderful sensibility—an improvisational assemblage of feeling, like unarrayed points that are not yet given to their gestalt.

“Like a tree,” notes Averill (253), “language sends its roots deep into the soil from which it draws sustenance.” I would say that of emotion, where the soil may be given so much more than the fruit its current express-ibility can bear. And anyway, “language” is so much more than words, emotion so much more than what a given repertoire may yet be able to capture (calling perhaps for a “language” of dance or drama or music or canvas, etc.), “and the soil may be transformed in the process. Yet even at their poetic best, words are often insufficient to express some of our most profound and creative emotional insights, including those that we might label mystical.”