– Feed your head

This curious writing exercise, from Pat Schneider’s Writing Alone and with Others, is unlike any I’ve done before. To begin, I had to put aside my internal language and “blank out,” in a way.

Imagine yourself looking down into a deep well. You are safe, comfortable, looking over the edge and down. You can see the surface of the water far, far down. As you watch the water, allow images to rise to the surface and float there, then recede again below the surface as other images rise. Do this as long as you want, then write whatever comes to you. (70)

I don’t want to say more and risk infiltrating your ruminations with mine. Just try it.

4 thoughts on “– Feed your head

  1. This reminds me of the concept of the Nagual, a word that I first encountered in Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan books. The Nagual is the opposite of the Tonal, and the Tonal is all things that exist and that you can name. That sounds a lot like everything, period, right? But then there’s the Nagual. The Nagual is unknown, black, blank, unknowable, empty and void, and on top of that, it isn’t even those words because those are words. Here’s the important part: everything that has yet to be created waits within the Nagual. Therefore, I regularly say, “I do not know the words to write, but the Nagual can write them. Let it write through me.”

    This is rather like swimming in a quarry whose depth is unknown and whose bottom is invisible. You have no idea what’s down there, but it holds you up.

  2. Lowry, it’s funny how I experienced that “Nagual” (new word for me) when I was doing the exercise. For long moments when I was watching the water, I saw nothing, or, just the surface of the water. Then my conscious monitor kicked in and prodded me, “Hurry! See something!” as if the blank surface was a sign of my insufficiency (arg). When I was doing the writing, however, what I ended up writing about, at great length, was the experiencing of looking down a well, at the water or perhaps a board covering the water (I’m not sure), in my childhood, when there were still wells in backyards, and then looking at the surface of a lake from the same time & neighborhood. So… whatever that is, I don’t know, but the nothing became a something. Perhaps the trick is to be able to abide with the Nagual and not prod it.

    (And, Rene R., whoever you are, thanks.)

  3. This is just what happens in meditation too. The monitor kicks in and says “Come on, you’re not doing a good job, you’re just sitting here thinking, you’re supposed to be meditating, bear down . . .” and of course this IS the very thinking that is being a distraction from meditating. Totally self-confirming. Meanwhile, all this is part of the process of meditating. Eventually you stop bugging yourself about whether you’re doing a good job and without knowing it, you meditate. I don’t think writing is much different, if at all. You can’t meditate by trying to meditate. You get nothing by poking and prodding the Nagual. It is un, repeat, unknowable. Unavailable to be prodded. It is Other. The only thing you can do vis-a-vis the Nagual is rely on it. After that, it does the doing.

    Your comment above reminds me of when I was in grade school, my best friend lived two houses down, and in their garage was this — um, bin, I guess — anyway, this space enclosed by wood with a hinged lid on top of it. The garage was brick and had a delicious smell of the oil that had soaked into its floor for forty years or so. It was fairly dim inside the garage when the doors were closed. I would open the lid of the bin — the something — and look down into it and it would be totally dark. I mean, I could see absolutely nothing there. It could have been bottomless, it could have gone down to the center of the earth. No matter how long I stared, I saw nothing. I used to do this from time to time to fascinate myself. I guess I still do.

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