Foreign Emotions like Foreign Languages

You know how they say that blind people dream don’t dream in images, they dream through their other senses? If a blind person dreamed of an image, would they know how to interpret it?  When you hear a foreign language, you can’t understand it because you haven’t learned how to interpret it. When a painter walks up to the canvas, they are translating from a blind man’s dream. The feeling they possess is intangible and they bring it from gibberish to something that is hopefully comprehensible. An artist simply wants to evoke or express that unintelligible thought.

The difficulty is that many artists don’t understand that they are trying to translate something that doesn’t have a set way of being expressed. There isn’t a correct way to express happiness or love or confusion. Essentially an artist tries to replicate a feeling but cannot perfectly match it. They leave their personality and interpretation instead. It’s like a child trying to forge their parent’s signature, perhaps it looks generally the same but it’s noticeably imperfect.

However, if you learn many languages, you can understand a new language faster and more efficiently. If a painter learns how to draw, play guitar, sculpt, and dance, he will be better able to translate his emotions. Sometimes a feeling can be best expressed with a certain type of art. If I know how to write, maybe my emotion would be best expressed through words. Only knowing how to write would severely limit my expression.

On the other side, inspiration comes in a myriad of ways. As I’ve branched away from photography I’ve realized that art is very fluid. Paintings express memories in a different way than a photograph does. A song from a particular time in my life can hold more emotion than a photograph.

Why is it that we, as artists, always crave inspiration? Is it because we aren’t able to express things we don’t understand? We have these emotions but we don’t know how to show them to other people. It’s as though someone is yelling at us in a foreign language and we’re desperately trying to understand what they’re saying. We want to reply or do what they’re asking but we simply don’t understand.

Lately I feel like I’ve started learning new languages. The emotions I go through can be understood better even if I don’t know that language. I can somewhat make out what I’m feeling inside and how to transcribe it into something to share with others.

The point of this post is to say that don’t try to force inspiration. It will come and go through your life and in different ways. I don’t paint or draw but I feel emotions that could only be felt through painting. There are days when words feel like the best way to express myself. Just learn to be receptive to the world and you’ll see the elephant in the middle of the room: everything in life is inspiration and everything is an emotion. You just have to be receptive enough to take that feeling in.

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P.S. The layout is changing again, so please be patient with me as everything settles down!

 

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No-Mind Language

No mind is the condition when thoughts pass through your head but you don’t place any attention on them. Eventually it’s as if there are no thoughts because what you are taking in through your senses at the moment are more important than your thoughts about it.

Think about a Hawaiian sunset, how catching it is and how beautiful. When you see something very beautiful like that, it’s as if everything else vanishes from your life except what is in front of you. It’s as if your life has peripherals and you spend more time staring at the peripherals than what’s directly in the moment.

Basically no mind is this condition of the absence of thought. It’s like a clearing where you can direct your attention and make thoughts arise as needed. You can act more efficiently and get more out of life.

Much of no mind comes from removing your desire to label everything. This coffee is cold or the palm trees are beautiful. While neither assertion is incorrect or bad, we spend too much of our time labeling things that don’t need to be labeled.

Ponder this for a moment; why do we need to say something is hot or cold inside our heads. We can just accept that our drink is what it is without labeling it. We can look at the sunset without the desire to try to make it tangible. We can walk across the sand and feel the sand without the need to call it soft or hot. We can just leave things at their experience or sensation.

Much of this leans into language. For example, we make action more tangible when we explain what we’re doing. I can go through the process of walking over and picking up a glass of water without thinking about walking over and picking the glass up. We have a fixation on words.

Like I wrote before, there is nothing inherently wrong with words. However, we passively label everything in our lives. This is too hot, too artificial, interesting, boring, great, horrible. We don’t spend enough time without these words.

As I’ve started to study Danish, I learn by labeling the things in my life. For example my friend turns into min ven. After learning many words to describe the objects around my dormitory I realized that I do this in the English language as well. My mind constantly speaks to my body. “Let’s go for a walk”, “I’m hungry”. Rather than making these expressions tangible I could just do them.

It’s difficult to explain but I think by labeling everything, we remove so much of the experience. By saying the sunset is beautiful, we reduce it to a word that is too generic to describe the experience of that sunset. Extravagant, or unique cannot do it justice.

These things which are conversations in our head “wow, that sunset is beautiful” are going nowhere. We are literally thinking them to ourselves. Because we are only thinking them and not communicating with somebody else, we mental reduce our experiences to generic words. We reduce them to much less than the experience of it.

Instead of labeling things, we should just feel them. The sensation of them and what it’s like to experience it. If someone asks, reduce it into language. But if you’re trying to remember something in your head, remember it for it’s sensation and not it’s descriptors.

Experience things as they are, don’t label everything.

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Between You and Me

How many of you have gone into a conversation with someone and realized that you aren’t part of the conversation at all? You’ve been duped into someone else’s monologue and you are the lucky audience. As the conversation continues, your attention starts to focus on how many “my”s and “I”s the other person is saying. Suddenly you become self-aware of how often you are saying those same words.

In those moments, you can see the deepest into people. It’s as if their words don’t have any intrinsic value and the sum of the words is greater than the content of the words. They are so caught up in what they are contributing that they’ve neglected to notice that you aren’t adding to the conversation.

There must be balance between the two people. In my personal conversations, it’s about you and I. What do I bring to the table and what do you bring? Do your experiences add on top of mine to make them better? Have you done something that I would like to do? Do you know things that I don’t know?

Where has that genuine curiosity gone from modern conversation? It seems like the more people I meet, the more they want to talk about themselves. Perhaps the media has given people the ability to get exactly the information they want and they no longer care what other people have to contribute. Maybe it’s just me? In the comments below, tell me if you experience the same thing!

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Book-writing non-sense

For the past few years I’ve been contemplating writing a book. I have no idea what it will be about nor why I even want to write one but I want to write a book. In fact, this blog is part of preparing to write it. It’s a way to get used to writing regularly and analyzing how I write.

“The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us” by James W. Pennebaker is a fantastic book. I’ve only just began reading it and I already feel like I’m learning so much about writing styles. Basically the book explains how our use of pronouns shows who we are. If a person uses the word “I” excessively, perhaps they are depressed. It talks about how poor people talk to other people and how the rich talk to the poor. It’s incredibly interesting.

Yesterday at the Mall of America I purchased the book “Wired For Story” by Lisa Cron to learn more about story writing. It’s all astounding to me! There is so much expression in writing that I didn’t understand before! That is one reason why I’ve gravitated towards writing.

Today is day 91 of my project. That’s about 3 months into the year, or 1/4 the way through my project. I still don’t know what exactly I’m writing about but I’m making progress. Words seem to flow better in my head and I feel like I can express myself better through language. As a visual person sometimes words fail me but now I’m starting to become more comfortable with words. We’ll have to see where this takes me in the next 9 months!

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