Intuition is easy to define, absurdly easy: it’s “what comes naturally”. It follows then that following intuition is simply doing what comes naturally. Do you agree? Do you see what I mean? I could write a longish essay explaining what I mean, a book even. I am not saying that what you should do is devote your life to following intuition. I never offer guidance. But the time has come where this is precisely what I must do. This is one of those cases where “must” does not imply onerous obligation, but inevitable result, as in “If you jump off a cliff, you must soon reach the bottom.” If you are a base jumper above a Norwegian fjord, as in my illustration, you hope it won’t be too soon.
The definition of falling is surrender to gravity. It’s easy to fall into traps. By definition, they are the things which are easier to fall into than climb out of. To attain skill in getting out of traps you need to fall into them in the first place. Talking about skill in getting out of traps, this could turn into a review of the excellent film The Prestige as recently recommended by Bryan. (In which you see how a performer falls into a trap from which escape is impossible. You see it, but the audience doesn’t. They don’t care what happens out of sight to the caged bird or person who vanishes. They wait only for “the Prestige”, where order is restored to everyday reality—where the disappeared miraculously reappears.) Yes, a film review might flow naturally, but nature must be tamed, and this little stream of words meandering down the mountainside by gravitational force must keep within its ordained banks for now.
The trap I fell into was try and fit my natural flow between the well-defined canal-banks of the progression called “writer”, in which, as a river flows to the sea, a person brings to completion his book and guides it towards wide circulation and the earning of royalties therefrom; achieving popularity thereby, itself acting as a spur to more writing, which eats up freedom till there is none left. It’s true I haven’t really fallen into this trap, just stared into its abyss, not even mesmerised. To adopt the label “writer” was merely the lazy consequence of declaring a mission. I shall cease forthwith such laziness and shamelessly remain—as announced in my Profile—an “idler”. These Notes are enough for me. In my hands, they’ll never amount to more than that, though I’ve spent countless hours trying to shape them into something. An idler can also be an armchair explorer. Idling by itself is challenging enough, but exploring has the additional catch that you need to find somewhere to go where no man has trodden before. (I say man advisedly, though Wikipedia lists seven female explorers. I beg their pardons.) There are those who venture off the beaten track geographically, but my explorations are into the unfettered depths of inner experience, to clothe them in fresh-minted expression. Yet in every such wild path I’ve wandered, I’ve found the footsteps (writings) of someone greater. So I’ve hitched a ride. It’s not cheating, you still make your journey, but on shoulders of giants you get a better view.
Which brings me again to David Abram, mentioned in my last. I finally received his latest book in the mail, sent over from the States: Becoming Animal. It’s not yet time to review it, for I’m not halfway through. But I’ve read enough to abandon plans for any book on the same subject, or indeed any subject. Abram is a proper writer, to whom this scribbler of brief notes is honoured to yield. He has youth, energy and genius for the task. Me, I’ll go on doing what comes naturally. Part of this will be to publish a little volume on Kindle, comprising a selection of relevant posts spanning five years, entitled “On being an animal”.
It will be one of a series: a dozen or more volumes on different topics, each available on Amazon at a dollar. (People talk with affection of the physical experience of paper books. But there are good and bad. What physical pleasure can a book give you, when you can’t hold it flat open at the page? Similarly, what’s the pleasure of a Kindle book that’s hastily converted, and not custom-designed for the medium? I shall take pains that all illustrations, hyperlinks, formatting and text are exactly right, however long it takes.)
It’s not that I think the contents of this blog have any literary merit as a whole or even in any particular part. I just think of it as a handful of seeds to broadcast for another generation, weeds and all, in case some part of it gives an idea to someone some day. This is what I must do, when must is what comes naturally, not burdensomely. Abram is a true pioneer. I rejoice that he is alive.
Another influence helping things fall into place is my younger daughter. I discovered the other day that she’s five times faster than I at web design, despite not having studied it. She has wanted to become a web designer for years now, but now suddenly we both realize that I can teach her, where “teaching” is merely pointing in a certain direction and helping inspire. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t even teach, do what comes naturally.
PS After drafting the above, I went back to Abram’s book, from where I left off. This man has gone further than I dreamed possible, down the trails I most want to follow. I wonder who or what has been his guide? He will be one of mine forever now. I just came upon this:
But I was now beginning to realize another possibility: that ideas had their own lives independent of mine. That indeed some vital ideas were like creatures wholly unaccustomed to human contact, wild notions whose robust elegance and vigor required that they keep their distance from those who might strive to define or domesticate them, twisting them from their native habitat.
One such fugitive idea, timid like a deer encountered unexpectedly, will be the subject of my next.