Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Creative Process: Finding the “I”

The Dream: I'm with a group of graphic designers. I see them as very cool, and being accepted is important to me. The “leader” is a small, wiry black man, about the size of a 12-year-old. He's very energetic and charming, and recounts stories by acting out all the parts as he tells them. He also thinks things through very thoroughly. When a project of any sort is mentioned it's apparent he's thought of every angle and is prepared down to the details. “He's the first person I've met who is just like me,” I think, and I'm very attracted to him.

I'm invited on a weekend with him and his two assistants, partially a working weekend, but it's clear I'll be expected to sleep with him. I find this exciting—at first. I hop into the front seat of his small but well made convertible; the windows are up and the roof is down. As we pull away, beginning to go into an urban tunnel passing under another road, we have the appearance of being on a lark, a joy ride. But I start to feel uneasy.

The leader's character changes from charming to peevish. I start to feel uncomfortable about the expectation that I will have sex with him. It occurs to me that this group probably take drugs as a matter of course, and that I will be expected to participate. Suddenly the whole “adventure” sours and becomes a source of anxiety rather than fun.

Interpretation: The “leader” is a trickster figure. He looks like my typical trickster: wiry, energetic, and black, my opposite and yet—“exactly like me” in his approach to things. The dream was inspired by a recent visit to an Alan Ginsberg exhibit that reminded me that the guiding lights of art in my childhood were the rebels who stood against middle class morality, often in self-destructive and adolescent ways. (The “leader” is the size of a 12-year-old.) The dream portrays my discomfort with certain aspects of this art world, the idea that it's a place that demands undisciplined behavior and morals. At the same time, there is something attractive about a life without restrictions. Do I see conformity as my only other option?

A basic conflict has emerged here: creativity and freedom versus the straight and narrow. My experience with the graphic designers helps me  get the picture. As the dream goes forward the creative group attempt to put me in their own kind of straight jacket. Each of the two supposedly antithetical groups demands conformity, each has its “standards” and expectations for the behavior of its members. True freedom exists in neither. A conjunctio (a union, symbolized by having sex) with one of the choices does not take place.

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