Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Getting Into the Artists Zone
“ . . . the human condition resides in the details, the sense details.” Robert Butler
Robert Olen Butler in From Where You Dream explains that emotions reside in the senses. We express them in five different ways;
1. Sensual reaction inside our body: temperature, heartbeat, muscle reaction, etc.
2. Body response to the sensual reaction: posture, facial expressions, tone of voice, etc.
3. Experience of emotion: flashes of the past, images, sense impressions.
4. Experience of emotion: flashes of the future, images, like bursts of waking dreams.
5. Sensual selectivity: hundreds of sensual cues, our emotions make the selection.
“Our personalities, our emotions, are expressed in response to the sensual cues around us. We look at the landscape and what we see out there is our deepest emotional inner selves. This is at the heart of a work of art.” Butler writes that an “artist sees the chaos of experience and feels order behind it and creates objects to express that order.”
Butler talks of the self-conscious metavoice that talks to us all the time about what we are doing, who we are, etc. The trick is to stop the metavoice and settle into the sensual flow of experience of the unconscious. He compares this state to a deep dream space. It is also called; flow state, in the zone, timelessness, muscle memory, dream space, sense memory, etc.
How to get into that zone? Butler talks about functional fixedness, which is “that if you have a certain place and certain objects that you associate only with a certain task, eventually the associational values build up in such a way that when you go to that place and engage those objects, you are instantly completely focused on that task.” Once you establish the conditions, you have to write, paint, or create in what way you desire everyday.
“But a work of art is an organic thing. Every detail must organically resonate with every other detail. If you have an intransigent memory-and intransigent is what literal memories are-it sits in the middle of the organic object; it destroys everything around it. Everything in a work must remain malleable, everything must remain negotiable. You need to understand that working from your literal memory will keep you out of your unconscious, out of the zone you must enter.”
How do you stay in the zone?
* You write or create everyday.
* You create functional fixedness.
* Journal about some event that happened during the day by using the 5 ways we respond to emotions.
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