I am interested in exceptional creativity accessed through altered or different states of consciousness: dreams, hypnosis, NDEs, hallucinations, séances, Ouija board or savantism. I am nearly finished a book on great poets of the 19th and 20th centuries who fit the paradigm: Keats, Hugo, Rilke, Yeats, Plath, Hughes, Merrill. I find enhanced right-hemispheric functioning due to genetic predisposition and a history of trauma in these exceptional individuals.
Jung's NDE and my Creative Response
Who is to say where our thoughts come from? I'd say from everything we've heard, read, seen or dreamed about, and sometimes from a distant shore or shared mind-space as in my "Freud only got it have right. Read the two Hyperion poems" dream. May I add that at the Julian Jaynes Society Conference, to my shock, I learned that I was not the only one to get a message to read a Keats poem in a dream. Life stresses can make significant messages and unusual creativity erupt in altered states of consciousness.
Around 10 years ago, I was doing a workshop based on Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way at the Jung Center in Houston. I hoped to open my mind to creativity. A mainstay of the course is writing "Morning Pages," where 3 pages must be produced without editing upon waking in the morning. On this day, we were to describe "My perfect self on a perfect day." I had read Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections and was taken with the idea of "the stripping process" he experienced in an NDE occurring at the time of a heart attack. Here is my slightly edited version of that assignment:
My Perfect Self on a Perfect Day
I awake early, having slept well in
the night.Revelatory dreams provideclues that unravel the seams of mystery.I write and I write, turning what I have heard into massive reams of prose, exposing the underbelly
of existence for what it really is: a stark void spun into stories that comfort and contain us or nagging
urges to create anew against the current of consensual reality.Pages
accumulate, ideas proliferate, metaphors clash and spar for expression.I have to tame the flow to get it
all out, to get it right.
Head spinning with the
creator’s passion, her pleasure pulses at every turn of phrase. Now she sits in a sacred space,
facing the Buddha: we are serene, proud, and terribly alone.She decides to let it ALL go.
Transported to a
desert, she experiences the final stripping process.Imploring the universe (which doesn’t exist,
except as a spinning confection gone out of control) to lighten her load, to
pick the thoughts one by one from her brain, to free her from the last vestiges
of ideation.Now the pictures go.They spin out into the sky, racing, gyrating,
jolting against each other; then, with a snap and a puff, they are gone.
Alone and free, the skin melts from her
bones.Nothing remains but her bones, bleaching
in the afternoon sun.The whiteness
startles her—it is bright, sparkling with perfection. The sun’s light polishes them further:smoothing, pruning, etching out the last
vestiges of individuality and imperfection.Glorious light shines forth.She is
the light.Shaking, aching tranquility
pulses through the night towards a final destination:a distant star, as bright as she, where she will pour forth every last atom of pure
energy.Molecules spin and dance, delighted
that they have found their new home, where neither word nor image recurs,
unsparingly, unsympathetically to scar her soul from its one true