the following is from an e-mail communication with Wm. Dubin and C.L.Myers during the initial discussions which lead to the AESTHETIC AUTOMATISM polemic...


date: 080495b (with a point or two of clarification later)

greetings both,

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 retarded.

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.

(as previously defined)

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 last.


--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.