Thursday, March 12, 2009

A defense of impulsive writing via Jungian psychology

I don't mean spontaneous writing, or a purportedly pure unedited stream of consciousness writing, but writing where you're going about your day, thinking about things, and you suddenly get an idea, and you decide to write about it. Usually you think it over some more, turn it around in your head, and then sit down to elaborate on it, but in any case there's usually not much formal planning that's gone into writing this thing about this particular subject. Impulsiveness is something that's been kind of relegated to a lower level of precedence, but the things that you're impulsive about can reveal a bigger underlying pattern.

That's where Jungian psychology comes in. Jung had the idea that in every person's head there was something called an Anima or an Animus, always the opposite gender, and that this Anima represented a kind of flickering transmission from your subconscious mind. Consciously, the Anima appears as a sort of hunch about the world that you perceive to be on the edge of your experience, something that can lead to fertile areas of exploration in knowledge and in fact. Jung's idea was that the transmissions from the subconscious in the form of the Anima aren't random but correspond to undeveloped portions of the self that want to be developed both individually and collectively through integration with the rest of the overall personality in individuation. If you chart the things that the Anima illuminates, the things that it spits out, over time, there's a pattern that's not random but instead should correspond to more or less stable categories of knowledge and experience. Getting impulsive ideas, writing about them, and also following up on them and seeing where they lead you, becomes about describing a figure that's hidden from your conscious mind but that can be spotted on reflection, especially by people looking from the outside in.

Writing, documenting your self development, can have a big impact that goes way beyond vanity because if you've found something useful for yourself other people will likely find it useful for themselves, may find it interesting, may be effected by it, inspired by it. They can see it as worthless or think that the stuff you think is the most important to yourself isn't really that useful to them. They can also find that something that you don't attach that much importance to has become really important to them. But by recording the journey you can keep that moment of creation open for anyone who wants to look into it.

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