the following is from an e-mail communication with Wm. Dubin and
C.L.Myers during the initial discussions which lead to the AESTHETIC
date: 080495b (with a point or two of clarification later)
subj: AESTHETIC AUTOMATISM
thought i'd put some thoughts in a more organized fashion for your
appraisal (this is a detailed schematic sketch rather than the draft of a
statement, its primary purpose is to help me clarify my thinking, but it may
also give some insight relative to the evolution of the main theory -- or you
may just want to jump down to item 6 and the basic three points):
Some background notes:
1) Seamless Consciousness
There are no "levels" or "layers" to consciousness, and no dichotomy
between the "conscious" and the "unconscious." There isn't even a clearly
definable boundary between "consciousness" and the "object of
consciousness," between "subject" and object," between "action" and
"situation." There is only a depth or thickness of consciousness which
varies in proportion to our state of self-awareness - from the thinnest film
of near being, where we engage in pure desire/instinct driven action, to so
paralyzingly thick opacity that it induces catatonia.
The more spontaneously we act, the less self-conscious we are. Conversely,
the thicker the consciousness, the more reflexive and self-aware it is, the
greater its obstruction to action.
2) Primacy of Action
The thinnest, least obstructive, consciousness is simply the immediate
awareness of our (re)actions within the world. Thicker depths of
consciousness are simply more reflexive, abstractly analyzing those actions.
But it is in the thicker areas that we form a sense of continuing "self."
There are times when we do things which are "not like us," when we act or
react intuitively, spontaneously in a way which collides with our "self-
image." At these times of cognitive dissonance, when our "self" does not
coincide with our actions, we alter our sense of "self."
Action is where definitions and meaning begin.
3) The Reflexive Feedback Loop
Reflexive depths of consciousness sense continuity in our actions (a "self").
It is driven to define (to some degree, lesser or greater) this continuity
through investigation, experimentation and subsequent analysis, leading to
further investigation and experimentation, etc., in an ever tightening spiral.
It attempts to lasso our actions and bundle them into as small, and clearly
delineated a definition "self" as permitted by our spontaneity.
4) Defining "AESTHETIC" Via the Reflexive Feedback Loop
We "discover" or "reveal" the raw material for our "true natural
AESTHETIC" in our intuitively creative reactions to things from infancy on. Analyzing, probing and testing these reactions within the
reflexive feedback loop allows this to expand and integrate. The more freely
creative our lives, the more intuitive our actions, the more closely our
"AESTHETIC" and "self" coincide.
This is very dependent, however, on the feedback process. The more one
allows outside influences, learned values such as "morality," contaminate
this process, the more deformed one's "AESTHETIC" becomes.
Conversely, if one tries to sever the feedback loop entirely (as in "pure"
automatist activity) one's "AESTHETIC" cannot develop fully and remains
This is very much a living "AESTHETIC," under continuous revision and
expansion, dependent only upon spontaneous action in the pursuit of desire
and fiercely autonomous exploration and analytical experimentation
for full flowering.
n, the creative condition (psycho/physical) which one enters with
the intention of utilizing pre-reflective, pre-rational consciousness,
escaping the prison of "logic" to encounter
intimate realities bound only by the next thought and driven only by the
(as previously defined)
6) AESTHETIC AUTOMATISM:
--Recognizes that the spontaneous growth of an AESTHETIC is
not only unavoidable, but desirable as long as it's allowed to
develop naturally from spontaneous and intuitive (re)action.
--Recognizes a "true natural and integrated personal AESTHETIC"
as the key element in a full, engaged, and creative life.
--Pursues the development of a "true natural and integrated
personal AESTHETIC," through AUTOMATIST activity free of all
deforming or retarding constraints, and enhanced by the reflexive
feedback processes of exploration and experimentation.
--Is the NATURAL ENEMY of any who would restrict and, thereby mutilate
the "true personal AESTHETIC" in themselves or others.