In the Mood
George G Clark, 07 March 2008
When I am in the mood for something I do it effortlessly and with good grace. This contrasts with doing things with a grudge because I have to. So what might it take to avoid the drudge of grudge and be more often in the mood?
There is work and leisure. Work can be paid or voluntary. In either case I sometimes feel put upon by the agenda of other people (the boss). To use philosophical terms I am alienated from my labour and acting inauthentically with false consciousness. But I bite the bullet and get on with it because, for various social and cultural reasons, I feel that I 'should'.
Some of those feelings cross over into leisure where I have 'pursuits'. There are options for 'doing' and thus for avoiding the beast which is boredom. There are also options for 'being' but this is a tough call because "the devil finds work for idle hands to do". Given my cultural conditioning I am something of a workaholic and thus tend towards being a slave driver and control freak. But I sometimes rise above those things.
"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." : Henry J. Kaiser (1882 - 1967)
There are work and leisure times when the muse is in the zone and there is effortless flow. There are times when there is no self awareness and it is as if time and space had vanished. At such times normal waking consciousness is shut down and the unconscious is in the driving seat. Rational, linear thinking is replaced by intuitive, parallel thinking and feeling. There are times of being "lost into the Oneness of it all".
But the experience is rarely that clean cut for long. There is often a jumping from one mind state to the other. 'Mind Mapping' offers an example. This begins with a free flowing, unconscious stream of ideas which are then rationally categorised and linked: with many mini iterations along the way. (This post was written using this mind mapping process: the hand written draft is very rough!)
So how might it be arranged that the muse is in the zone and 'I' am in the mood?
Intellectually and consciously there has to be an acceptance that these different mind states exist and that there is nothing (or at least not much) to fear from the unconscious. So reading and thinking about it well help to fill in the concept map. But the map is not the territory. There is a need for down time and for stillness. Time to let the mud of the intellect settle so the clarity of the unconscious is exposed.
I have two main obstacles in making this transition which is not yet complete! There is the fear that the demons of the unconscious will be unleashed (reference Freud and most of the psychiatric movement). But it turns out that, for me at least, the demons' bark is far worse than their bite. Nature has programmed me as a social animal and my nurture in the NE of Scotland has laid a foundation of working class Puritanism. These mental formations can be observed, smiled at and dismissed. They are not the bogeymen they are cracked up to be. Their dictates can be overridden.
The other main obstacle is seemingly getting something for nothing. I find it hard to get my head around new poems, songs or blog posts 'arriving' thanks to 'the muse'. This still has a ring of 'magic'. But I am getting easier with the notion that my nature and nurture provide the causes and conditions for whatever turns up. The unconscious thus has much the same dynamics as consciousness except that the illusory and constraining 'I' concept is not as noticeably involved.
So: all that is needed to avoid the drudge of grudge is to sporadically exit the conscious, egoic state and leave things to unconsciousness. Harness the muse and you will automatically be in the mood.
"It does not seem to be true that work necessarily needs to be unpleasant. It may always have to be hard, or at least harder than doing nothing at all. But there is ample evidence that work can be enjoyable, and that indeed, it is often the most enjoyable part of life." : Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1990