“Life is filled with abstractions…

“…and the only way we make heads or tails of it is through intuition. Intuition is seeing the solution–seeing it, knowing it. It’s emotion and intellect going together…

“Personally, I think intuition can be sharpened and expanded through meditation, diving into the Self. There’s an ocean of consciousness inside each of us, and it’s an ocean of solutions. When you dive into that ocean, that consciousness, you enliven it. You don’t dive for specific solutions; you dive to enliven that ocean of consciousness. Then your intuition grows and you have a way of solving those problems–knowing when it’s not quite right and knowing a way to make it feel correct for you. That capacity grows and things go much more smoothly.”

– David Lynch

I really dig this.

(This post is long but please, bear with me.)

Lynch talks about intuition as an “ocean of consciousness” that can be nurtured through meditation. I think it can also be expanded through exposure and experience.

Well; maybe “exposure” and “experience” are the wrong words. Let me try to explain. I’m a fan of what Robert McKee has to say about truth in stories:

“We all walk this earth thinking, or at least hoping, that we understand ourselves, our intimates, society, and the world. We behave accordingly to what we believe to be the truth of ourselves, the people around us, and the environment. But this is a truth we cannot know absolutely. This is what we believe to be true.

“We also believe we’re free to make any decision whatsoever, to take any action whatsoever. But every choice and action we make and take, spontaneous or deliberate, is rooted in the sum total of our experience, in what has happened to us in actuality, imagination, or dream to that moment. We then choose to act based on what this gathering of life tells us will be the probable reaction from our world. It’s only then, when we take action, that we discover necessity.

“Necessity is absolute truth. Necessity is what in fact happens when we act. This truth is known–and can only be known–when we take action into the depth and breadth of our world and brave its reaction. This reaction is the truth of our existence at that precise moment, no matter what we believed the moment before.”

By McKee’s explanation, I feel like the “sum total of our experience” shapes our intuition, and intuition is what we tap into when necessity prompts us to act. To me, McKee is saying, truth is in the reaction. Reaction stems from intuition. Intuition is our “ocean of consciousness,” our personal truth.

How do we elicit reaction? We experience. We expose ourselves to new art, new happenings, new places and people and things and ideas. (New nouns? Haha.) Sometimes we partake. Sometimes we observe. Either way, if we are conscious that our reaction is a bit of our own personal truth, part of our own self, we can use that consciousness to identify the truth in the reactions, to sharpen our intuitions.

Jarmusch says to “steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination…select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul” to maintain authenticity. I say, do this also to sharpen intuition. Absorb everything, and be conscious of everything to which you react.

Lynch has something to say about action and reaction himself. He starts off talking about how he fell in love with the idea of the “art life” in high school and wanted to devote himself exclusively to painting.

“The art life means a freedom…it doesn’t have to be selfish; it just means that you need time.

“[Painter] Bushnell Keeler…always had this expression: ‘If you want to get one hour of good painting in, you have to have four hours of uninterrupted time.’

“And that’s basically true. You don’t just start painting. You have to sit for a while and get some kind of mental idea in order to go and make the right moves…The idea just needs to be enough to get you started, because, for me, whatever follows is a process of action and reaction. It’s always a process of building and then destroying. And then, out of this destruction, discovering a thing and then building on it… Then it’s a matter of sitting back and studying it and studying it and studying it; and suddenly, you find you’re leaping up out of your chair and going in and doing the next thing. That’s action and reaction.”

Joseph Campbell says that destruction and then the rebuilding of something new and better is the work of the hero. The true hero looks deep within himself, identifies the demons of dream and myth that we avoid because they threaten our security and comfort, and in tackling them, discovers his true self. Upon resurfacing, he becomes something better, and then helps the world become better as well.

Isn’t, then, the work of the artist the work of the hero?

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