Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Logic-Survivor-Artist Brain

I’m reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. TweetSpeak Poetry is starting a discussion series tomorrow on it. The book, now 20 years old, is about creativity, artist’s block, and how to break artist’s block, and structured over a 12-week course.

Knowing our discussion leader Lyla Lindquist, I expect we will take a little less time than 12 weeks. Like maybe six. Tomorrow’s discussion ill cover the “introductory sections” and the first of 12 lessons. “Introductory sections” is a specific phrase. Lyla did not say “introduction.” She said “introductory sections” for a good reason – those sections cover 15 percent of the book (and my Kindle knows). These sections are of critical importance to the rest of the book, because they include your daily and weekly assignments.

Bah! More work! Who cares?

Well, I do. This may be some of the most important work I’ve done.

Part of what’s included in the introductory material is the “three brains” we deal with in life – Logic Brain, Survivor Brain, and Artist’s Brain. How many places have I worked where Logic Brain and Survivor Brain (doing only what’s known or safe) institutionally gang up on Artist Brain to kill off even small lurches toward creativity? And how many places have I worked there that turned out to be a terrible mistake?

The answer to both questions is the same. It’s not that Artist Brain is necessarily superior to the other two; I suspect all three are needed in any organization. But when faced with an overwhelming challenge, Logic Brain and Survivor Brain rarely come up with a solution.

Those three brains may explain most of my professional career.

In 1992, email had finally reached critical mass in the organization here I was working. We proposed doing an email newsletter for employees. The people responsible for our email system predicted the end of western civilization if we published even a text-only email newsletter. The discussions went on for months, until I realized that, short of shutting down the system, no one could really stop the newsletter. We launched our newsletter, and nothing happened to the system. Western civilization survived.

Three years later, something similar happened with the organization’s first web site. Western civilization once again survived.

Organizations, even artistic organizations, aren’t by nature kind to Artist Brain. Organizations tend to take on their own dynamic, and perpetuation of the status quo can become paramount, even when the status quo is falling apart and something new is called for.

Julia Cameron (not to mention Lyla Lindquist) would be amused to see how far I’ve already moved from creativity and artist’s block, and this is just the first week. I plan on having another post on Thursday on the first lesson – “Recovering a Sense of Safety.”

Come join us at TweetSpeak Poetry.


Megan Willome said...

By the time this discussion is over, I'm finally gonna have to go get the darn book!

Nancy said...

Glynn, I wasn't really tuned into this discussion because I'm not really part of the poetry tribe. But. I'm glad I clicked over here. I'm fascinated by this idea of logic, survivor, and artist brains. I'm watching someone I know and love whose artist brain seems to overwhelm his other two. Maybe I'll drop by and listen in on the conversation.

Besides, anything Lyla's got her fingers in has got to be a good time, right?

P.S. Thank you for not destroying western civilization.

L.L. Barkat said...

I laughed at the need-more-work quip. :)

And I'm already behind in my reading. (Shhh. Don't tell Lyla :) But I'm doing those Artist Dates, and loving them.

I'd forgotten all about the various brains I have in this head of mine. Thanks for a fun and thoughtful reminder!

Maureen said...

Really enjoyed reading this, Glynn, and looking forward to your continued contributions to the discussion.

Lyla Willingham Lindquist said...

Ha, Glynn! I did use that phrasing on purpose! I thought for a while I could just jump into chp. 1-2 and assume folks would read the introductory portion, but with the morning pages and artist dates being so foundational to wherever else she's taking us, I figured we'd better give them their due!

I sometimes think that a person could probably do well to just read (and take to heart) those sections and still benefit well.

S. Etole said...

You've certainly awakened my interest.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Lyla will make a great discussion leader!

diana said...

Gosh, I love your take on this, Glynn. I am reading along and struggling with the assignments, going at them slowly and unsteadily - gradually beginning to believe that she might be onto something real and true here. Your two contributions (I read today's first) are excellent grist for the mill. Thank you.