Magic and creativity

There is a relationship between beauty, magic and creativity for which a few words are in order. There is something magical about beauty and the creative process which produces that beauty. Unfortunately, magic is probably even less understood than beauty. In its common connotation, magic implies getting something for nothing, a manipulation of physical reality by supernatural powers, and the use of other-worldly explanations for natural phenomenon. The magic of beauty, and the creative process which produced that beauty, however, involves the use of alternative states of consciousness to get new perspectives on the realm of physical reality. By alternative states, I mean the dream states of the unconscious, meditative states, trance states, and creative states.

Can we have both rational and magical states? Clearly we can, if we maintain certain boundaries, rigorous inquiry and a sense of play. Isaac Newton, genius of the Enlightenment and nemesis of the New Age, devoted vast amounts of time to alchemical studies. His notebooks are full of astrological and alchemical calculations. Of the 270 books in his library when he died, more than a hundred were on alchemy (James, 1993). Did Newton discover a rational order in the Universe by playing with magic? The alchemists are dismissed by rational minds using historical hindsight because alchemists thought they could turn base metal into gold. Their magic slowly evolved into chemistry which today earns gold through the invention of very useful synthetic drugs and materials. A sense of magic is an essential ingredient in the creative process. It expands the realm of the possible. In this article I flirt with magic as a way of expanding the limits of conventional rational wisdom, like visualizing resonance patterns to see how they might store memory for us

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. In sifting through a wealth of fascinating material to develop my thesis, my synchronistic methodology has seized upon tapes of Esalen lectures presented between the years of 1963 and 1993 by Aldous Huxley, Abraham Maslow, Joseph Campbell, Gregory Bateson, Huston Smith, Albert Hofmann, Rupert Sheldrake and Brother David Steindl-Rast. Part of the experience of beauty in writing this article has been to transcribe these tapes, to listen to the resonances of the voices of these men as they speak from their depth of knowing while immersed in the beauty of the Esalen experience. The process of listening and transcribing allows for a deeper level of communication.

To learn of beauty you must learn from those who truly see it. These men know. I have chosen to climb onto the shoulders of these giants to enjoy the view from their collective perspectives and to widen my own more humble horizons.

Writing an article on the experience of beauty through a synchronistic methodology has become itself an experience of beauty. The rational inquiry of science and the magical inquiry of myth and image combine to provide insight into what it is we mean when we speak of beauty. All too often, in my experience, authors expect readers to wade through entire books to pick up the gems hidden within. In this case, I would like to set forth what I consider the central thoughts of this work so that one may then choose to read further, read selectively, or put the work aside if questions asked here and the answers put forth are not compelling. What is beauty? What are its psychological aspects? How do we perceive it? Why do we not necessarily agree among each other as to what is beautiful? Why do some see the beauty around them while others do not?

Further reproduction prohibited without permission. 6 In answering these questions throughout history, most writers have approached the subject intellectually through careful, rational analysis. While noting several of these approaches, I have kept the focus of this work on an experiential level. How do we experience beauty? I have come to believe that in experiencing beauty we are in resonsance with what it is we consider beautiful. Just as electrons resonate around their atomic core, just as our eardrums resonate to music, a person in the state of perceiving beauty is picking up on and resonating with the specific frequencies of the beauty that presents itself. You may see a beautiful sunset as you rush to an appointment. You know it is beautiful from past experience, but you did not have time to experience this particular sunset. You know it is beautiful, but it has not changed you. The moment was not transcendent. To experience the beauty of the sunset, you must temporarily forget your appointment and remove yourself from your usual mode of waking consciousness. You enter an altered state of consciousness, a depth state, which enables you to literally tune into what you are seeing. You are fascinated, you are moved, you have briefly experienced the transcendent.

The understanding that the perception of beauty is achieved in a depth state of consciousness and relates ultimately to the transcendent spiritual experience could make the study of beauty a central focus of Depth Psychology. This becomes particularly true if we understand the perception of beauty to include the experience we have when a truth has been received, when justice has been achieved, when a state of wholeness has been created out of chaos. These are part of the experience of beauty as transcendent. In psychotherapy, when a client sees a connection for the first time, beauty is perceived. As clients become psychologically healthy, they move out of themselves and are more able to tune into the beauty around them. To experience beauty is to experience the transcendent.

May 2, 2018


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