The Artist’s Unconscious, The Metaphor of Birth and Waking Life

Every now and again during the inevitable agony of cultivating, constructing, and evaluating the creative process, the artist finds they’ve become “stuck.” Trapped in the limbo of their piece, somewhere between conception and establishment, they are striving for the “release” of sorts. Just as the actor or musician diligently prepares for a performance, somewhere between the realization and the execution, everything we’ve known and bred must be let go with the wind. This concept can seem painfully simple, cliché and worst of all, beaten to death. I can assure you, it is not the rudimentary discussion you might think.

It’s a beyond well-known fact that we as evolving humans use a shamefully small percentage of our potential intellect and brain-function capacity*; but how do we relate this to our unconscious? From beginning to end in the creative journey, how often do we actually realize to rely on and draw from unseen layers?

In this more in-depth analysis, Dr. Cheryl Arutt gives a fascinating discussion of the artist and the unconscious using the metaphor of birth that is truly carried out to the end. This article may be found here.

*Note: I am not trying to give way to the common myth that we only use ten percent of our brain (Beyerstein, 1999). However, we have approximately 100-150 billion neurons in our brain, with each neuron connecting to about 10,000 others. If every single neuron connected with every single other neuron, our brain would be roughly 12.5 miles in diameter (Nelson and Bower, 1990) and close to the size of London.

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Channeling Emotional Intensity in the Creative Artist

Thanks to Cheryl Arutt for one of the best, most easily accessible articles I’ve seen on channeling pain in the artist, including some brief (albeit great) insight into the chemical process that stimulates fight-or-flight syndrome. Find it here.