I’ve been sick this past week! One thing about being sick is that it slows everything down and forces you to be quiet and still for awhile. I just wanted to share a few thoughts regarding magic and the creative process that came to me all in a rush and also share another concept I am currently preoccupied with: the idea of artist as shaman.
I was thinking about some of your comments about my work, and also about my method of working. The word, “magic” was used. That caused me to remember a phrase I wrote in one of my notebooks once, “Magic is willed.” Also another, penned by David Abram in his book The Spell of the Sensuous, “The most sophisticated definition of “magic” that now circulates through the American counterculture is “the ability or power to alter one’s consciousness at will.”
Abram was a magician who traveled to Nepal and Indonesia and hung out with shamans. His magic training got him to be accepted as one of them by many and the shamans shared a lot with him. The book is about man’s relationship to the natural world. Abrams defines a shaman as someone who can, “readily slip out of the perceptual boundaries that demarcate his or her particular culture… in order to make contact with and learn from the other powers in the land…” Their magic is their “heightened receptivity” to the “meaningful solicitations” of the “larger more-than-human field.”
That way of describing magic as altering ones consciousness at will, really struck a chord with me because I feel that that is what it feels like to make art sometimes. His description of the receptivity to the “more-than-human field” (I love that phrase!) is akin to something like I would put in an artist’s statement. There definitely seems to be a theme so far in my efforts at capturing a visual representation of emotion, unseen forces, natural intelligence… Which led me to see a similarity with some artists acting as shamans in the sense of creating visual representations acting as go between between a natural unseen world and this one. Or, better yet, evoking the feeling that captures the beautiful paradox of both worlds, seen and unseen, coexisting.. ala magical realism. There! Something like that. Anyway…
In passing I wanted to put in a word or two about the experience of rapture. I was writing earlier, and thinking about altered consciousness.. and how so many of the things we do that really drive us and make life worth living, aka sex, spiritual/meditative bliss, dancing, music, art, writing, dreaming.. these all involve altered states of consciousness.. (at least I think so..) I’ve heard this referred to as the experience of ecstasy or rapture as well. I feel that these altered states, this rapture is our way of touching a more whole view of who we are. It’s through shamanic rapture that shamans channel the pervasive presence of nature that they believe surrounds us… and I’m just a nobody.. seriously.. but I don’t think you have to be da Vinci to feel artistic rapture and touch something.. whatever that is.