I went along to the Midnight Stichery to check cool things such as surrealist story telling techniques. Mary Jocob’s was a delightful host singing and entertaining the late-night audience. If it hadn’t of been for the PowerPoint projector and laptop you could have been forgiven for thinking that we were sat in a surrealist salon at the turn of the twentieth century.
The poet and entertainer Mary Jacob talked about how she deployed Surrealist techniques in her writings. I found her ideas truly stimulating. I kept thinking that I might have a go at using more random chance in my own work. I have this idea that it is possible to create a poem randomly and accidentally and yet to mask the fact that it was created that way. Create something like God – totally out of the chaos and yet for it to have a well ordered harmony or natural structure to it – a ‘fearful symmetry’ to use Blake’s phrase.
It was an interesting evening of spontaneity and creativity, which involved passing around a talking stick’ and holding space. The audience were encouraged to switch off their rational minds and to tap into their unconscious minds so that we could construct a living story. We then quilted all of the narrative elements together by writing on colourful patches of silk spontaneously created narratives and stitching them together into a synthetic whole.
On stage was a puppet maker who brought out his talking puppet Mortal. It was funny to watch this muppet-like creature speculate about metaphysics and universal existence.
Anyway, they were things in the evening, which generally caught my interest and generally fascinated me. I think it is my ongoing interest in psychology and philosophy and how that crosses over into the arts – the romanticism of being a living artist and these explorations into and beyond the unconscious. The left and right hemispheres of the artists brain and zero zone of pure creation. Lifting the truth from the Zen field.
Mary’s evening was a success and intellectually stimulating. The Midnight Stichery got me really fired up about art and made me think, what is it that the artist is trying to achieve through his explorations into consciousness? Sometimes I feel there is a historical thread which connects all artists together into a kind of brotherhood.
This afternoon, I wrote to Mary about last night and some of thoughts that came to me about artistic process – the arc of the artist. In an email I addressed to her, I said;
‘I feel the true creative act is a 'shift in consciousness' - that 'shift' manifests itself in the heart of the audience - that is to say they sense it. The audience might not know what it is that they sense but they will nevertheless feel it. I think it would be great to use some of your ideas as a springboard into something else - to narrativize the unconscious as it were. It's a challenge to surrender ideas to the laws of chance. I feel the artist is always looking for the right prompt so that he or she can engage with their destiny. I feel very much that the artist reflects society's consciousness - through their work they become the mirror of the epoch.
Spontaneity is a genuine key into creativity. Sometimes I plan to write a poem and then something else comes up and I have to delay the project. When I get to write the poem, I find it is a different work but nevertheless the piece of writing I intended to write (non-intentional-volition). The Chinese use the phrase wei wu wei - not doing, doing or doing-non-doing. The great sages of the Tao and the modern surrealists have much in common... Anyway, your Midnight Stitchery provided much food for thought and gave me some ideas, hopefully, they may flower.’
All in all in was worth venturing out into that freezing weather to see Mary perform. Shame the train was half an hour late – but I’m glad I made it. There was much to consider from what she was saying, and it was fun too!