Self Imposed Cell

Jerry Gorovoy, Louise Bourgeois’ personal assistant for 30 years, stated: “She had psychological issues, of course, a lot of anxiety, awe, fears, depressions, and a great remorse for not being a good mother… but she knew that art helped her survive, all her creative process, not only the cells, were a therapy for her.”

Louise Bourgeois once said that “art is a guarantee of sanity.” These are words that explain her strong desire to pour her mind in art as a way to heal her past and inner pains. Even though she denounced Freud and his psychoanalytical theories, it’s clear that she was a person who explored and materialized her fears.

I drew Louise Bourgeois from the deck of Art Oracle Cards. Like Bourgeois, I found myself limited by my mother’s possessiveness. Likewise, I know that the creative process and escaping into an interior world has quite literally saved my sanity. Since I was very young I have spent a lot of time alone and I am finding that Bourgeois’ work on ‘Cells’ is resonating for me.

Bourgeois began to make her self-enclosed structures known as Cells in 1989 and they became an important part of her output for many years. In these works she explores themes of being trapped, anguish and fear. The word ‘cell’ can refer to both an enclosed room, as in a prison, as well as the most basic elements of plant or animal life, as in cells in the body.

This week, within my journal, I am spending time thinking about a room/space I spend a lot of time in and the ways in which I have confined myself to a cell. I may also give some thought to designing a mock-up of an alternative cell I would be happy to confine myself to, consider found objects that I would surround myself with.

An Entry Point

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, by Julia Cameron is a non-fiction book written in first-person point of view about the creative process. The book contains the author’s own experiences of writing and lessons learned, also exercises for the reader.

The premise of ‘The Right to Write’ is simple: No matter what, just WRITE! Write your way to clarity and love. You can do it.

The prompts in this book are pretty much exclusively for getting in touch with your keeping-a-journal, writing-about-your-own-experiences self. Cameron is not offering prompts for fiction but my experience is that the work we do in our journals can be manipulated and become part of fiction or memoir writing.

Kabir says that ‘wherever you are is the entry point’.

Today your entry point is to write about where you are emotionally, physically and psychologically. If you are unsure how to begin, consider doing a body scan first.  I have also made body scan recordings which you will find here. Doing this full-body scan before writing in our journals drew amazing writing from participants in a recent workshop.

Another strategy is to get out your trusty Tarot deck. Corrine Kenner has two interesting books which explore how a writer can use a tarot deck to enhance their writing. For now, using your preferred Tarot deck lay a spread.

  1. Physically I need
  2. Emotionally I need
  3. Spiritually I need
  4. Mentally I need
  5. Currently I feel

Draw and lay your cards out in a spread. Meditate upon the images and then, remembering that thinking is the enemy, just write what comes streaming down your arm, through your fingers, into the pen and onto the page.

Check out more ideas about using Tarot Cards

Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner

Tarot Journal Writing Corrine Kenner

Tarot Ideas Generator

Tarot and the Fellowship of Fools

How to Use Tarot for Writing with a 2 – Card Spread

Using Tarot to Write Fiction

I found the work of Corrine Kenner after working with a Tarot deck to promote journal and fiction writing. On her blog, Corrine Kenner promotes ‘The Magic Cure’ as a sample piece of work written after drawing ‘The Magician’ in one of her workshops.

 

Progoff’s Period Log

“As the oak tree lies hidden in the depths of the acorn, so the wholeness of the human personality with its fullness of spiritual and creative capacities lies hidden in the depths of the human being silently waiting for its opportunity to emerge.” — Ira Progoff, Depth Psychology and Modern Man


What Progoff created in the Intensive Journal is a process of writing that enables a person’s deep inner wisdom to become conscious and a source of guidance in their journal writing and in the conduct of our lives. He wanted to give people a tool that was practical and of use in whatever setting a person might be.

I have had my copy of At A Journal Workshop for over twenty years and regularly turned to it when I am working with people who have signed up for the writing courses I regularly offer. Although I have a well-marked copy of this classic book about journal writing I have never undertaken the course. However, I am tempted to go to Eremos in Sydney in November to complete a two-day course.

After writing about the atmosphere of a journal workshop Progoff introduces what he calls the Period Log as a way to begin the work of drawing our life into focus. He talks about beginning with the Now but explains that the Now is not limited to an immediate instant.

When I consider the NowI am reminded of a session with my ‘therapist’ (journal) where we discussed my perception of how much the landscape of the internet has changed since I ran the Soul Food Cafe. I went on to explore, in stream-of-consciousness, how I am no longer sure where or whether I fit in. My period log provides the space where I can record these insights in a succinct, objective entry. I also included a sketch of myself looking from the outside, in wonder at the overcrowded urban cities that have sprung up in cyber-space. I also note aspects of a recurring dream where I cannot find my way in an urban environment.

After completing an exercise like this in a class setting I often ask participants to identify a character and, using material from their entry, write a scene in the first person. After completing an exercise which involved going inside a sea shell Jannali used her observations to complete a piece.

When searching the internet I found  Ed Levin sharing entries from his period log.It is worth exploring Levin’s blog to see how he has been working in an online setting.

A book I strongly recommend that participants examine is ‘A Life Of One’s Own’ by Joanna Field (Marion Milner). In my mind, this is like the Period Log Progoff speaks of. Check out the review at Brain Pickings to learn more about this amazing existential experiment, much beloved by W.H. Auden. After writing this Milner went on to fill her ninety-eight years with a life of uncommon contentment, informed by her learnings from this intensive seven-year self-examination.

Remember that the Present Period will vary with each individual. It may:

  • reach back three years since a car accident
  • go back even further to the time when you walked away from life as you knew it
  • simply be a few weeks after meeting a new friend
  • the period after moving house
  • be about the period after beginning a new job
  • be after an epiphany

Before beginning to undertake an entry in your journal learn about Entrance Meditations.

Cabinet of Curiosities

A cabinet of wondrous curios
A delightful collection
Objects,
Carefully placed
Lying, seeming unconnected
Next to each other
Evoking,
Triggering memories
Permitting the mind to
Wander to faraway places

Microscopes,
Scales, microtomes,
Drafting tools,
Cameras,
Magic lanterns
Antique candle powered projectors
Fine laboratory glassware
Vintage beakers, funnels, test tubes, crucibles,
Dessicating jars
And a one-off hand blown, baroque piece carefully stored

A pair of rare wax anatomical models
Crutches and callipers,
Arm braces,
Blood pressure meters
And first aid dummies
Antique botanical prints
Woolly mammoth hair
Coprolites,
Spiny trilobites,
Skulls, fish and ammonites stored in labelled draws.

Butterflies mounted in Petri dishes
An Atlantis Moth
Obscure,
Whimsical and wonderful
Packets of seed,
Very old taxidermy birds, in excellent condition
Hand-made pills,
Patent medicines and toiletries.
The scent of human breast milk, swamp water and sex
Stored in tiny laboratory vials

All combine to fill
A purveyors
wonder chamber of
creative stimuli

Weighing Words

An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth

Within the field of rushes
Lies the heart of one
Mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend,
Whose time in this realm is done?

Within the field of rushes
Lies the heart of one
Teacher, counsellor, advocate, imagineer, friend
Who took but gave an eye, a tooth, a shoulder

Earth to Earth
Ashes to ashes dust to dust

Within the field of rushes
Lies a heart of one
Who gave more than she took
Who returns to the source

As light as a feather

Heather Blakey March 29 2005

 

Singing Over Bones

I have excavated the skeletal remains
Of the child I was
Before my childhood was unceremoniously snatched
Before betrayal stole joy and eroded the flesh
Before the burdensome grief of another
Weighed down my shoulders
stunting growth.

I look at the remains and remember
that I knew who I was
all those long years ago.

I was a happy carefree child with a sunny disposition
Who played practical jokes
Whited all the sand shoes
Lined dolls up
Made tea on the back verandah
Taught French from dusty texts
Was infused with the magic of treasure hunts
Played in a cubby house
under the shelter of majestic Pussy Willow trees
that lined our back fence.

I remember that I was
the gentle, studious one
steeped in mythos
who loved the library and
her own company
causing barely a ripple to family life

I look at the skeletal remains and ever so carefully
Place them in my saddle bag
to carry and sing over
to bring flesh to
and discover joy, in simple things
all over again.