“MIND-SPLIT”- Seven Ways to Creativity by "Bud" - Norris Martin Evans
… with a Cookbook … a Lion, and Dancing with a Relaxed Mind
cartoon by the author
Years ago, Psychologists gave us a new way to think. Let’s call it a “cookbook“. It told us how to make new ideas. The business community wanted it. They wanted something that was intuitive, credible, and something that everyone could easily understand and feel comfortable using. This “cookbook” pictured our memory as being divided into two parts, one active, and one passive.
The active part of memory is the one that we use every day, let’s call it our ROTE MEMORY. It contains all of the things and actions that we use all the time. “ROTE” is defined as a mechanical way of doing something without understanding or thought. It’s fixed. It’s mechanical. It’s everyday-automatic.
The passive part of memory consists of the vast remainder. It’s our LIFETIME MEMORY. It contains everything — known, unknown, forgotten, or suppressed. It’s our gold-mine for creativity.
Today, this “cookbook” has been simplified into the phrase: “thinking outside the box” — whereas the “box” part is our ROTE MEMORY and the “outside the box” part is our LIFETIME MEMORY.
TIME-OUT: (1 of 5) Let’s draw a picture .
The Lion: (?)
For creative thinking, psychologists visualized that all we had to do was to slip out of our ROTE MEMORY and into our LIFETIME MEMORY to look for new ways to address the world. Easy.
Not so easy. We introduce the “Lion”.
As we all know, our brain always gets in the way. It easily drifts into a chaos of fantasies. These fantasies will always foul our most earnest attempts at creative thought. We call these mental fantasies, the “lion”. It’s just a symbol. You’ll recognize the “lion” when you see it, especially when it gets in the way of your creative energies. Stay-tuned. Later, we’ll suggest some tricky ways to avoid the “lion”.
Dancing with a Relaxed Mind: (another picture)
This is a back-and-forth action that mixes life’s experiences. Under certain circumstances, this mixing process may lead to an active alliance between disparate elements of memory that may lead to the making of meaningful connections to perform meaningful outcomes. This is the creative process.
For creative thought, all we have to do is to figure out a way to make this creative process happen. This may be how — we assume that the quality of this mixing between ROTE and LIFETIME memories determines the value of creativity that you might experience. And, in turn, this depends upon the ease at which this mixing happens — which prompts us to understand that relaxing the mind may be the key. A relaxed mind allows for freer access to our LIFETIME MEMORY — and that’s what we want. This prompts us to say that for the creative mind, the mantra is:
We’re done: . . . The Seven Ways.
This is all we need to know. We can end this conversation right now — but how do we reach creativity? It all centers around one thing — relaxing the mind. That’s key. The intent is to increase the availability of the unconsciousness mind. Included are seven ways that I think might be of value. I have tried most of these seven and have found that the more you try, the easier it becomes, you may be able to feel it.
>>> Please note: In keeping with the norms of the day, the following pages will refer to our ROTE MEMORY as the conscious mind and the LIFETIME MEMORY as the unconscious mind.
- MECHANICAL: Relaxing the mind leads to lessening the influence of the conscious mind. We can do this by simply giving the conscious mind (ROTE MEMORY) something else to do. Something that will keep the conscious mind busy enough so that the unconscious mind can operate semi-independently. I call this parallel thought processing. Examples to follow.
- SLEEP: Sleep effectively shuts down the conscious mind. It works. The unconscious mind runs — almost — free range. I use this mental scheme all the time. The words that you’re reading have their origin from sleep.
- CONTOUR DRAWING: This effectively separates the conscious mind from the unconscious mind. Don’t expect too much from this if you are not a student of the arts. We’ll talk about how to do it, later.
- WINE OR ALCOHOL: I hesitate to mention any type of outside additive, but I will. For me, a small amount of wine takes the edge off of the conscious mind, too much creates an adverse effect.
- YOGA OR OTHER: I have no data, but I can imagine that mind control practice may easily yield positive results.
- PACE: This is working fast. It’s effective and easy to do. However, you must have adequate preparation to be effective. Working fast simply outruns the speed of the conscious mind, and that’s what we want. We have examples.
- BIOLOGICAL: It’s Bodily Chemistry. We’re talking about bodily produced chemistry affecting the neurotransmitters of the brain. It is, by far, the best and the most satisfying means to the creative process. Later, we include a detailed, albeit personal, description of a biological event. It will stun you.
TIME-OUT: (2 of 5) A JUSTIFICATION: Albert Einstein’s “Combinatory Play”. *(1) see Notes, page 11
In 1945, a French mathematician* asked Einstein to explain his thought processes. With editing, it goes like this: “The words or language, as they are written or spoken, do not play any role in my mechanism of thought”. Whereas, “the psychical entities, which seem to serve as elements in thought, are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be . . . reproduced and combined” — resulting in the combining of the two elements of memory — the “muscular images” of the unconscious mind, and the “logical concepts” of the conscious mind. “. . . this Combinatory Play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought . . . “. (my emphasizes)
Need we say more? Note the similarity between Einstein’s “Combinatory Play” and The DANCE.
NEXT — EXAMPLES: We Include twelve common and some not-so-common examples on how to cultivate that creative spark. These examples will center around two things: Relaxing the mind and how to null the effects of the conscious mind. We’ll start off with a few scenarios that require little or no use of the conscious mind. For sure, we still have the conscious mind, but we’ll put it someplace where it will not hinder our creative thoughts. This is what I call parallel thought processing. It’s a mechanical process.
Next, Examples 5 – 6, we introduce a few exceptions that eliminate the perceived presence of the conscious mind.
Finally, Examples 7 – 12, are creative events in Acting, Sports, Pablo Picasso, Antoni Gaudi, and Jack Kerouac. Some may surprise you.
EXAMPLE (1): Driving to work: This is about parallel thought processing.
Remember the day, while driving the car to work — you suddenly had a revelation of thought — that’s the deft two-step. I say “deft” , because you’re driving skills are not hindered — it’s just a flick of an image. It’s an image gleaned from your vast memory of past experiences. This happens because your conscious mind (ROTE MEMORY) is occupied (it’s driving the car). Your unconscious mind has a chance to wonder.
EXAMPLE (2): Walking, jogging or running. Another way at parallel thought processing.
It’s hyperventilating with a view. It’s a pleasant way to unwind your daily problems by side-stepping your conscious mind. Surprisingly, people seem to learn about this over and over again, as I have seen many published articles, over the years, describing the exhilaration felt while doing any one of these activities. It’s the “kick” you need to initiate that feeling of “newness” — seeing a fresh world in front of your eyes. I do it often. It’s keeping the conscious part of your mind busy while allowing your unconscious mind to daydream, or, daydreaming with a purpose — a creative behavior.
EXAMPLE (3): The “aha” moment: The “classic” example.
This is a story about the absent-minded professor/scientist. As the story goes, it’s the “scientist on the bus”. This is where the scientist, having a mind-set which is entirely consumed in thought, steps off the bus and suddenly experiences a sudden flash of insight while engaging the folding doors and deploying stairs. It’s the perfect setup for the “dance”. It’s that surprising movement, the doors, the steps, all of which may provide the mental diversion needed for that sudden insight. That’s the “two-step”(no pun).
Note: Albert Einstein would play his violin, at times, for this same purpose.
From Einstein’s Quotes: “I thought of that while riding my bicycle”.
Also: “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me”.
EXAMPLE (4): ROTE STEW.
Figure (3): The basic idea of “ROTE STEW” is to side-step the “lion” (remember the “lion”. . . it’s all in your head !). Here we’re giving the “lion” something else to do. It should be something easy, something repetitive, and something that requires little thought. When the “lion” is occupied — your creative mind can find the door — that’s parallel thought processing. (I made a mistake while drawing the cartoon — can you find it…? ) *(2) see Notes, page 11.
EXAMPLE (5): Sleep:
The jewel of the unconscious mind. We all have it, but we may not all use it. During sleep, our unconscious minds have a field day. Personally, I try to steer my sleep-time thoughts towards my day-time problems. On the most part, it works — no guarantees. Mentally, it’s the same situation as described in the previous examples. We null-out the conscious level of our minds so we can dip into our unconscious memory. Dream on…!
EXAMPLE (6): Contour Drawing:
This is a special activity. It’s an experiment of the mind. It’s a secret that every little kid in school knows.
What does it do…? It separates the CONSCIOUS MIND from the UNCONSCIOUS MIND. But, fear not, no kid was hurt (to my knowledge) by practicing Contour Drawing. This is how we do it:
Get a pencil, paper, and a subject. This subject should not be a box or a ball shape, but a thing or person having compound curves and an identity— not a Rorschach image. First, you fix your gaze wholly on the subject and mentally focus on one point on the contour of the subject, then, drop your hand, with a pencil, on the drawing surface. Move the pencil on the drawing surface at the same time, at the same speed, and in the same direction as you move your focused eye along the contour of the subject — never looking at the drawing and never taking your focused eye off the subject contour. Your eye and hand activities must be kept separate at all times. If done successfully (practice helps), you will see surprising results. No cheating.
EXAMPLE (7): Being an actor (man or woman).
Being an actor is about a repeated interplay between the conscious and the unconscious and working with pace.
Let’s talk specifics. Consider Colin Firth, the English actor. Colin Firth starred in the movie “The King’s Speech” as Prince Albert (Bertie). As an actor, Colin Firth was required to immerse his own personality into another who had the immense psychological problems of a ridiculed sibling who was frightened and tormented since birth. He was mulch in the hands of his out-going older brother who was next in line to be King. The younger Prince was constantly devasted with life. So much so that he developed a life-stopping stuttering problem. Later on, as he was surprisingly and abruptly ushered into becoming the new King of England, he had to take on all of these emotional problems in secret, away from the discerning eyes of the entire English Nation and do this, while his country was approaching a world war — and all the English people were desperately clinging onto every one of his spoken words.
WOW …. can’t do much better than that.
EXAMPLE (8): Let’s talk Basketball.
This is about working fast = “zoning it” — working fast nulls the influence of the conscious mind.
Working fast forces the mind into an array of automatic actions that out-run the speed of ROTE MEMORY. Basketball players are good examples. At top speed, they describe themselves as “being in the zone”. It seems that the conscious mind has a speed limit. If you exceed this speed limit — you may be “in the zone”.
That “array of automatic actions” is important. In the case of basketball players, this array will be composed of basketball moves or actions learned and stored in the player’s conscious minds. That’s the “PREPARATION” part. Putting these learned moves together, successfully and efficiently, requires a mental quickness that out-paces the speed of the conscious mind, that’s the “DANCING” part. It takes both PREPARATION and the speed of your unconscious mind (THE DANCE) to operate efficiently in basketball — that’s “zoning it”.
EXAMPLE (9): Let’s talk Baseball:
Working slowly— This is about the “lion” in your head and how to counter its influence.
Speed is not of the essence. “Slow” interferes with the mind (the presence of the “lion”). This is about the mind of the quintessential baseball player, the pitcher. Have you ever noticed a pitcher’s “eye dip” (my term)? Just before a pitcher’s violent arm action of throwing the ball to the target, he momentarily takes his eyes off his intended target — this action is the “eye dip”. During the ensuing violent arm movement, the pitcher’s eyes reconnect with the target. This is quick, too quick for the “lion” to interfere. The pitcher’s eye view is clean, and his mental view is clean. It’s “clearing the mind”. This has nothing to do with physically “resting” the eyes — it’s all mental — it’s all in the “head”. Be advised, however, that this technique does not replace the years of practice and natural talent that makes success possible. Note also that not all successful pitchers use this “eye dip” technique.
This “clearing the mind” brings us, briefly, back to basketball. Have you ever wondered why so many good basketball handlers have difficulty standing at the line, making free throws..? Mentally, it’s the same processes that goes through the mind of a baseball pitcher. It’s a slow process — the mind gets in the way. Avoid the “lion”.
FROM HERE ON . . . We consider creativity — as applied to painterly artists, sculptures, and writers:
This opens everything. Before we proceed, let’s get a few things out of the way. Let’s define art. As the saying goes: Art is in the eye of the beholder (or, beer-holder). Anything goes. Everything qualifies as art. BUT — for those of us who think we can discern things better than most — it’s not what is on the paper or canvas or other — it’s the interplay of what is on the canvas and what was in the mind of the artist — the vision of the artist — how the mind interprets this vision — this is judgment one.
EXAMPLE (10): Picasso:
This is about working fast. A technique that nulls the effect of the conscious mind.
Image this: Your art teacher puts a red apple on the table and says, “Don’t paint the apple, paint the “RED”. This notion runs parallel to the life-long ambition of Picasso — It’s not unlike painting the “RED”, it’s painting the intrinsic nature of life.
Let’s talk “Guernica”:
Arguably, “Guernica” was the epitome of Picasso’s life. It was Spain, 1937, Picasso was asked to provide a large painting to cover the entire entry wall of the Spanish International Exhibition. Picasso accepted the commission in January but could not start his painterly work until months later. During this time, Picasso ingested the outward political hatred of the Spanish regime and the World’s “first-ever” war-time bombing of civilians in the small town of Guernica. With this and the onset of the Spanish Civil War as a backdrop, Picasso started his 12 ft x 26 ft painting. He started in May — he finished in June — one month.
Given his wealth of preparation, Picasso, like the basketball players, was “in the zone” when he assembled Guernica. I’m sure his conscious mind could not keep up with the immense and quick energy of the unconscious. That’s working fast.
A MISTAKE ?…! ….. Did Picasso make a mistake while drafting Guernica …? It is my view that every single element of Picasso’s Guernica was thoroughly and mentally processed. Ever distorted hand, every distressed body part was put there with meaning. I’m sure that Picasso lived and felt each brush stoke — except, maybe, one —
It’s the little finger. The little finger of the woman holding the oil lamp, center-top. The finger wraps around the oil lamp in the wrong direction. What’s your opinion…? Was it on purpose or not…?
EXAMPLE (11): Antoni Gaudi — imagination gone wild — a delicious array to fill your appetite.
This is about preparation and intent.
It’s the flowers. Antoni Gaudi had an amazing imagination and gleaned much of his extraordinary flights of fantasy from the structure of flowers. It was the twining of stamens and the surround of seed. Mother nature and Gaudi’s creative mind had no bounds.
Arguably, it is the juxtaposition of dissimilar objects that might signal the presence of Gaudi’s creative genius. At first sight, Gaudi’s solutions might have been shocking — but then, reasonable, and still, later, it was satisfying — always beautiful and, maybe, even lustful.
As for “PREPARATION”, Gaudi’s life was it. He was forever conscious of his surroundings, the immense truth of nature. As for his unconscious mind, Gaudi’s intent was emphatically and energetically transmitted to trusted artisans.
As an example of Gaudi’s immense preoccupation with nature, consider Gaudi’s life-ending work, the Sagrada Familia. This is a monumental chapel reaching to the sky. In his mind, it was a living flower. Look closely and you might identify the internal supporting structures as — stamens of a flower.
EXAMPLE (12): Jack Kerouac:
This is a story of the unconscious mind — working fast and never stopping.
Kerouac does the “Scroll”.
CIRCA 1950. It was Jack Kerouac and his traveling buddy, Neal Cassady, both traveling West. They were a team, both were about the same age, both were exposed to the same drug culture of the ’50s. They called themselves writers — looking for adventure. It was catch-as-catch-can on trains, either under or over, never inside. Maybe a hitch on 66, if lucky.
Jack split. He wanted to record their adventures, typewritten, on paper (no computers). His title work would be “On the Road”. In the meantime, Neil would continue sending his hand-written stories via mail. Neil’s letters were rich with excitement, mostly women and alcohol.
Jack was about to present his final draft of “On the Road” to the publisher when Neal popped another letter. This one was special — maybe greased with extra stuff. It was long. It was rambling, and it never stopped ( 18 +/- pages). Neal’s “style” blocked Jack. Ideas flowed like never before. Jack had no choice. He tucked his newly completed draft of “On the Road” under the covers and began rewriting from day one. This was the beginning of what we now call, “The Scroll”.
It was a new style of writing. Today we call it “stream of consciousness”. It was a new genre. For our purposes, it wasn’t what Jack wrote, it was how he wrote the “Scroll”. Jack produced about 125 feet of continuous type, without stopping (except as necessary). Mechanical typewriters of that day called for the taping together of hundreds of paper sheets. Essentially, it was — never stopping — three weeks — many sentences — but one paragraph!!
TIME-OUT: (3 of 5): A biological event.
The following is a description of a biological event as experienced and detailed by the author. (A similar biological event is documented by J. Hadamard, called “automatic writing”. *(1), see Notes, page 11.)
IN THE BEGINNING
About fifty years ago, I experienced what I now call a full biological creative experience. Not then, but as I see it today, this must have been a scenario of muscular actions, seemingly controlled, for the most part, by the unconscious mind. Five decades later — recalling my life — the following is my experience.
IN MY MIND
May I be brief. In my mind, I was born an artist. Not a good thing during my youthful days. Science, not esthetics, was king. However, I did have a chance to use my esthetic imagination in the aerospace industry. It went well — combining aesthetics and science was, somehow, appreciated. But my suppressed desires for creating — “new” — the “untried” — was still not completely fulfilled.
Living on, family and the military service took their toll. Unfulfilled and driven was the day. To lessen this mental confusion and that deep and lingering desire to express myself in paint, clay or other — I took to the dead of night, alone in my garage. But not alone. I was with my easel, my paint, and my mentor, Rembrandt van Rijn. The paint flowed and I was released from my past in twenty minutes.
I WASN’T THERE
Not so. “Time” was nothing — it could have been minutes or hours— I wasn’t there — my “rational self” took no part in my garage. It happened like this: My arms moved — but not under my rational control. I felt someone behind me, I turned — that was silly — I was alone. I remember that.
It wasn’t scary, but it was a full-fledged-bewilderment. My eyes recorded it — arms moved — but nothing else. I remember that frizzled brush with the great gob of mineral white as it guided itself to the canvas. It was automatic. Arms moved. I saw it — no conscious control. I still have the canvas — the canvas hangs on my wall. I can point to the paint. The brush is gone.
I still remember, even now, years later, vividly. I remember sitting on the garage floor, my energy absolutely depleted — gone, but doing my best scribbling notes, trying to document the flying emotions of what just happened. Days later, I put those scribbled notes together and wrote essays to my art professors. They gave me A’s and asked for copies.
This brief episode of time changed my life forever. So here I am — with another piece of paper — trying to communicate. It’s not easy. These are my secrets. I try to share them — but not. Since, and years away, I have not revisited this call to accumulate this immense amount of biological energy. The lifelong traumas leading up to this event are not there. I am no longer a frustrated and creatively starved individual. The drive for “new”, however, still lingers. Once felt, this mental drive is worth life itself.
KICKING AND SCREAMING — THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED
ONE: The surprising AVAILABILITY of the unconscious mind — this comes with the practiced ability to relax-the-mind — which allows more “stay-time” in the unconscious mode.
TWO: Time vanishes. The unconscious mind seems not to support the concept of time.
THREE: A pondering note from Albert Einstein: “… when a solution comes to you, you won’t know how or why ”. This is the essence of creativity — the unconscious mind.
FOUR: It’s a mystery — and may I say again . . . creativity is all-consuming — it’s like licorice trickling down the back of your throat — when it happens, nothing else matters.
A word to the business person, accountant, the engineer — the same disciplines apply. It’s the obsequious “Mind-Split” — the “Dance” — It’s that split between the two elements of the mind — the conscious and the unconscious — the mixing of elements — always looking for new associations. This mental energy is open to all who want to try.
TIME-OUT: (4 of 5) A list of things to bring to the “Dance” :
- A passion that overcomes all others — i.e., an irresistible urge to create. *(3).
- IMAGINATION (“Imagination is more important than knowledge . . .” *(4).
- An understanding of the separation of the mental domains: ROTE and LIFETIME MEMORIES.
- The practiced ability to relax your mind — to increase the availability of the unconscious mind.
TIME-OUT: (5 of 5) Simplicity:
Creativity is the gathering together of life things — and re-putting them in startling ways.
May you feel it — May you live it — May we advance and discover together.
Thank you, Norris Martin Evans
The author’s background:
I am not a psychologist. I call myself a non-retail artist. This is somebody who elects not to gather money from the inherited talents of being a painter/sculpture or an innovator/inventor. Not counting being in the Army during the Vietnam era, my most frightening, or, maybe, the most challenging, of life’s episodes, was being a frustrated w-a-n-a-b-e particle physicist who dropped out of UCLA and one who believes that the fundamental particle of all the Universe is not a particle at all, but a packet of energy — can’t see it, can’t feel it — but the like-intertwining of same, creates mass and the observable Universe.
Putting this weirdness aside, let me say that I have experienced all (except acting and sports) of the scenarios of creativity as described. I look forward to your comments.
*(1) : Jacques S. Hadamard, “An Essay on the Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field” , Princeton University Press, 1945. All references are taken from the original essay reprint.
Re. Albert Einstein: J. Hadamard was able to draw answers of a personal nature from Professor Einstein regarding his approach to creative thought — Einstein called his approach “Combinatory Play”. It was a “combining”. It combined the “muscular” thoughts — from the unconscious mind — with the “logical concepts” from the conscious mind — where his unconscious mind, most often, led the way.
Re. Automatic Writing: This event is writing that appears on a page without conscious input by the person holding the pen — an involuntary — unconscious — happening. J. Hadamard first experienced this strange mental episode as a young student while dealing with a highly frightful academic situation. This spooky happening seems to have its origins directly from the unconscious mind — where unrealized feelings may evolve from deep-seated, suppressed, past experiences. Hadamard, thus, and involuntarily, “opened-the-box” to his unconscious mind — easily leading to similar phenomena throughout his lifetime. Strikingly, in my opinion, Hadamard failed to recognize the far-reaching importance of these mental episodes. For our purposes, the concept to be learned here is the existence and importance of the unconscious mind — the second part of the two parts of the human mind.
*(2): The chair of the lion, left, floats in space — should have a passing indication of an attachment to the floor.
*(3): Einstein quotes, “True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist”.
*(4): Einstein quotes, “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited, whereas imagination encircles the world.”
An Essay On The Psychology of Invention In the Mathematical Field: By Jacques Hadamard, Copyright, 1945, Princeton University Press. Published unabridged by Dover Publications, Inc.
THE CREATIVITY QUESTION: By Albert Rothenberg and Carl R. Hausman. Copyright 1976 and Published in 1976 by Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina.
The CREATIVE PROCESS, A Symposium: Edited and with an Introduction by Brewster Ghiselin, Copyright 1952 by Regents of the University of California, Published by University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, England.
IDEAS AND OPINIONS, ALBERT EINSTEIN: With an introduction by Alan Lightman. Based on Mein Weltbild, edited by Carl Seelig plus others. Introduction Copyright 1994 by Alan Lightman, A 1994 Modern Library Edition, Copyright 1954 by Crown Publishers, Inc.
The Guernica: By Yayo Aznar, First Edition: Copyright 2004 by Edilupa Ediciones, S.L., 2004, Printing: Talleres Graficos Penalara, Spain.
ON THE ROAD, The Original Scroll, JACK KEROUAC: Edited by Howard Cunnell, copyright 2007, Published by the Penguin Group Inc., 2007.
Neal Cassady, The First Third, and Other Writings: Edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Nancy J. Peters. Copyright 1971 and 1981 and Published by City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, California.