… layers of perception …

Lately, fully into the process of writing again – the sequel to my first novel – I sometimes wake up with phrases. Yesterday it was: Outsight is the dream, insight is reality. Aha, not just a nice wordplay, I thought, but a fitting indication for what happens in the creative, intuitive process. Insight is new comprehension, often through a shift of focus revealing deeper layers, new connections in the matrix that awaken and surprise, fresh meaning, and adjust the outsight, the old noise caught in a time warp. It’s like having new sight through what the Celts called Thin Places, actual or virtual, where our senses are transcended and spheres intermingle.

If you are a creative person, you may listen to the system talking to itself, as it does day and night, even during dreams. Some of us like to branch into the unknown for dimensions beneath surface impressions, probe into the vast reservoir of the personal and collective psyche,  normally filtered out from our conscious awareness when we must attend to the practical matters of daily living.

Often a creative process is sparked by sensing in-betweens. This applies to all arts, including writing. Different layers of experience and association diverge and merge anew when we de-focus. In a visual sense, for example, try looking at a tree in twilight, squeeze your eyes and concentrate on the in-between spaces. There is a moment when the shapes reverse and the background becomes the foreground. And who hasn’t looked at clouds or landscapes in a particular light and seen magical beings?

In this optical illusion you only need to tilt your head. 

And there is the meandering mind, receptive to intuition. Like yesterday I popped to the corner shop to get a paper. An unintended detour got me talking to Annie, who does house clearances. Amongst her cornucopia of stuff a spot of bright magenta caught my eye. I instantly thought of my friend, Rahima, presently in hospital. She is a painter. She loves colours. The vibrant patch of silk, I thought, will make her smile. 

Artists tend to tune out of fashion, out of mass projections, to let the muse take them along random paths into deeper strata of perception and cognition – of shapes, colours, sounds and movements – to re-arrange personal experience, bringing them into a new, universal context.

A good example of this process is shown in a documentary of the painter Howard Hodgkin by Alan Yentob, from the IMAGINE series.

Howard Hodgkin has a current exhibition at the Alan Christea Gallery, London.  http://www.alancristea.com/  in celebration of his 80th birthday,

A Robert Frost poem – Acquainted with the night – was chosen as the title for the exhibition.

De-focussing is magical – it brings new layers of perception …

Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.’ – Howard Thurman


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18 responses to “… layers of perception …

  1. Silentnovelist

    Reading your posts, and this one in particular, deepends my perception, affirms my instincts – I’m not going mad, or at least not very – and I feel I am almost imperceptibly being drawn back to a path I’ve strayed from. You talk about the ‘thin places’ and I know exactly what you mean. You remind me that not everything is in my imagination. And ‘the old noise caught in a time warp’ – the best description I’ve ever heard – can be transcended, even transmuted, through creativity. So Inspiring. Thank you.


  2. It cheered me up writing the post. I’m glad it inspired and cheered you up too 🙂


  3. Creativity for me starts with thoughts – all sorts of thoughts. I enjoyed reading this post.


  4. a very inspiring and thought provoking post. I loved the image in the water, I often have trouble with so called 3d images because of my the makeup of my eyes (that’s me trying to be interesting, it’s only a lazy eye!! but it does mean that I can’t do the old 3d thing but that image was immediately clear and beautiful.

    I love to daydream, I love the places my mind takes me.

    thanks for this post – Diane


  5. Thanks 🙂 Your writing proves you have no trouble with insight. Have you heard of the Bates method? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bates_method
    Though scientists discredited his approach, many who tried using it experienced benefits, including Aldous Huxley.


  6. Truly beautifully written.


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  8. “Outsight is the dream, Insight is the reality” – beautiful words and very inspiring! 🙂

    My teachers often commented how I would do much better if I didn’t daydream so much, but I’ll bet they never thought I’d become a published author!

    Your comment about the artist trying ‘to re-arrange personal experience and bring it into a new, universal context’ brought to mind an art exhibit I went to just last week. It was called Fairy Tales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination. If you get the chance to see Patricia Piccinini’s work, she definitely demonstrates how she sees the controversial genetic manipulation of scientists today, creating amazing sculptures with weird and wonderful features. Thanks for suggesting Howard Hodkins. I’ll go check him out. 🙂


    • Thanks Susan, for your feedback and leading me to your blog. I looked up what you wrote about Patricia Piccinini’s exhibition, striking work, very touching. It must be even more impressive close up.
      For Howard Hodkins it’s colours, he has excellent visual recall. When I succeed in re-visualising a scene, people, and I call in other senses as well, it’s like seeing something for the first time, so much more vivid.


  9. Pingback: … sunshine ☼ parties between rain drops … | Course of Mirrors

  10. “sensing in-betweens”–how very true! When we de-focus, we’re able to catch words or phrases that move quietly around us like the dust particles in our home caught only by sunbeams. xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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