08 September 2012

Conduit for Discovery

Artists and writers have long talked about visits from the muse. Even as an unaccomplished poet, I have experienced the rush of strangely coherent words arriving to march through me into a poem. Others have talked about being a vessel or a conduit.
...there I was in my rented room with the wooden floorboards, getting up each morning and creating beautiful dancing prose, drinking buckets of tea, pacing about as the world in my head became brilliant, flashed, gave off sparks—sitting down again for lines that ran and flowed and surprised even me the creator. But that was the joy of it, I wasn’t the maker. It wasn’t me hammering it out, hacking at the reluctant material. I was the conduit for a magic energy. I was possessed of it, there to deliver it, deliver myself of it. The delivery boy. I was elated and humble. It was a holy time.
Philip Ó Ceallaigh on writing Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse

Artists and writers have also talked about making a deep connection with a physical place.
 Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.
 ~ Gary Snyder
I have wondered about the nature of discovery (cf., Discovery and Natural Wonder).

I am beginning to see a connection between the notion of a muse, in the conventional sense of the artist’s muse, and the the would-be muse of the discoverer. Perhaps scientists, anthropologists, and explorers also operate as a vessel for inexplicable insight and discovery -- insight and discovery that arrives unannounced as if broadcast from the great beyond.

Discovery is some combination of preparation and dumb luck. As discoverers,
"We cultivate the probability of discovery when we shed the baggage of expectations to meet the world with openness.” 
Many of us have an affinity to the Buddhist notion of beginner’s mind.

I have found
“When I am a beginner, everything is discovery.”
Perhaps there is something about vastness, whether a glorious horizon-to-horizon physical landscape or the vast landscape of inquiry into the unknown that renders one beginner --
  • always open, 
  • always fresh, and 
  • always present to experience and understand new phenomena.

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