The human mind is like an alluvial mine. Just below
the surface of the ground, or mind is that area of mental and emotional
activity which carries with it all the mental and emotional activity
which have been experienced by the individual. The subconscious
level, or mine, contains a volumne of experience and reality. Within
it are creative powers beyond belief.
By far the largest area of the mind,
the subconscious, is built up with associated sense impressions
and memories dating back to the womb. This submerged area of mentation
is the creative part of the mind, a wonderland of mystery. According
to Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, it is the area which
contains a summary and reservoir of race, memory and accumulated
skills. It is the submerged part which is the powerhouse from which
radiates the most illuminating inspirations of artistic genius.
It is synonymous with Mnemosyne, goddess of memory and mother of
In Bernard Shaw's 'Saint Joan' we hear the final
words of the executioner and Warwick after Joan's death. The executioner
says 'Her heart would not burn, my lord; but everything that was
left is at the bottom of the river. You have heard the last of her.'
Warwick, who intuitively understands that it is not so easy to remove
the influence of a woman like Joan prophetically says, with a wry
smile, thinking of what Ladvenu said "The last of her? Hmm! I wonder."
Perhaps Shaw was thinking of those who bore witness to the travesty
that they witnessed or perhaps he is alluding to the creative part
of men's brain which remembers all, a legacy of Mnemosyne.
Psychologists now generally regard the subconscious
as the great storehouse of life's experiences. Research reveals
that the ability to access and use this region of the mind directly
determines the success of creative workers, whether they are scientists,
authors, musicians or business leaders. The study of the beginnings
of mental processes that have led to all the great inventions and
insights reveals that these inspirations have emerged from a field
of subconscious activity. Milton's reference to the Muse in the
'Nativity Ode', "Say Heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein Afford
a Present to the Infant God? Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn
strain, To welcome him to this his new abode" clearly depicts the
Muse as a figure, outside him. Since Jung's more recent findings
we might reasonably argue that Milton is really deferring to a subconscious
field of activity, of which he is merely an agent.
Most artists speak of their talent coming from
some source outside him or her, of being an agent of a greater force.
Hesiod, a humble Boeotian farmer claimed that the Muses appeared
before him, on Mount Helicon, and put in his hand a branch of olive
wood and breathed into him a divine voice. William Blake, the English
artist and poet is said to have done his immortal work while his
subconscious was in complete control. Dickens declared that when
he sat down to write, "some beneficent power showed it all to me."
Keats said that the description of Apollo in the third book of Hyperion
came to him "by chance or magic to be - as it were - something given."
The Bible makes illusions to this 'beneficent
power' when Jesus comforts his disciples saying, "And I will pray
the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may
abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world
cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but
ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." St
John 14:16,17. The disciples were completely bewildered by this
talk and Judus asks an obvious question of Jesus "How is it that
thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" St
John 14: 22. Unfortunately Jung was not around to explain to Judas
that this beneficent ally that Jesus was speaking have was the collective
In the Phaedrus Socarates paved the way for
Jung to discover the workings of the subconscious by saying that
"every man's soul has by the law of his birth been a spectator of
eternal truth, or it would never have passed into this our mortal
frame, yet still it is no easy matter for all to be reminded of
their past by their present existence." Plato believed that within
every mortal frame resided all knowledge, all the great and useful
secrets. This claim was to be taken on board by Freud and Jung when
they discussed the collective unconscious and talked of the companionship
Within the Phaedrus lies other clues to the
nature of the creative impulse its direct link with the subconscious.
For example, after Socrates has concluded his dialogue with Phaedrus
and prepares to cross a river by which they have sat, he is made
aware of a sign and hears a voice that warns him not to depart until
he has purified himself. The voice he hears makes it clear that
in his speech he has committed an offense against heaven. He acknowledges
his 'prophetic skill' and says "the soul too is in some sort prophetic.
For (his) pricked (him) some time ago, as (he) was uttering that
speech." Socrates must have been taken aback to receive such a stern
warning from within. The Greeks, despite their powers of reason,
explained that which was inexplicable by using symbols like the
Muse, the gods and the goddesses. Socrates states that "we owe our
greatest blessings to madness, if only it be granted by Heaven's
bounty. For the prophetess at Delphi, you are well aware, and the
priestess of Dodona, have in their glorious moments of madness done
great and glorious service to the men and the cities of Greece'.
It is in this way that he explains what he doesn't really understand;
the source of creative genius.
Socrates endeavors to dissect the creative impulse
when he says that there "is a possession and a madness inspired
by the Muses, which seizes upon, a tender and a virgin soul, and,
stirring it up to rapturous frenzy, adorns in ode and other verse
the countless deeds of elder time for the instruction of after ages."
His use of the Muse fires the imagination. Had Socrates written
'inspired by the subconscious' we would not have been tantalized
or tempted to undertake the pilgrimages to Delphi to drink from
the Castalian waters. Without such a tangible destination man would
have been forced to stay home to puzzle over how to reach the inner
source. Mere mortals prefer to look beyond themselves to explain
that which they cannot see or touch or begin to comprehend. They
like to be able to reach out and touch or drink.
To further highlight the potential of the subconscious
as a source of creative genius let us look at other examples from
the ancient world. When primitive man figured out how to build the
'Tower of Babel' God was not impressed. He spoke out saying "Behold,
the people are one, and they all have one language; and this begins
to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they
have not imagined to do." At this point man had clearly tapped the
creative energy of the subconscious. The subconscious is imaginative
and inventive. It never grows weary. It is a willing servant of
the man or woman who understands it and uses it intelligently. It
helped man design the pyramids and the Cretan labyrinth. The subconscious
is so inventive that it has the capacity to build the Tower of Babel
and help man to speak a universal language.
In his oration to Phaedrus, Socrates bequeathed
some solid information on how basic concepts arrive. He speaks of
being illumined, like a flash of light. He suddenly saw that he
should not displease the Gods, just as Eve quite suddenly "saw that
the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes."
Most artists reveal a close kinship with this concept. Achimedes
solved the problem of specific gravity as he relaxed in his morning
bath. It is commonly held that ideas occur in very unorthodox conditions
like this. James Watt invented the steam engine during a relaxed
walk on the Sabbath. Edison claimed to have plucked successful methods
'right out of the air' and French mathematician, Henri Poincare
said that ideas 'frequently flashed into his mind while he was engaged
in other activities.' Likewise ideas cross the bridge from the subconscious
to conscious through the medium of dreaming.
From Socrates through to Jung the human mind
has been recognized as the richest unexplored area of the world.
Our future now lies in the utilization of these largely untapped
My work in the field of writing leads me to
propose that when we establish a relationship with the Muse, which
is another term for our subconscious, we are so stunned by the 'knowledge'
that lies within that we learn to respect ourselves and come to
believe that we have something important to say.
In order to effectively mine this alluvial vein of
gold you need to undertake all
important preperation and keep returning
to the mine , use your intuition, search for links along the
rich vein and dig deeper and deeper. Alluvial mining never has been
a simple affair. There are no nuggets of gold lying around on the
surface of the ground here.
Alluvial Mine is the property of Heather Blakey and Miners who
have generously shared their work. Please do not replicate any part
of this mine without written permission.