I dislike the term, but I suppose it would be accurate to say that I’m a ‘creative’ person and it’s been this way for as long as I can remember. In recent times, my waking hours – and to an increasing extent, my sleeping hours – have been interrupted by a deluge of ideas and imagery that springs unbidden from some unknown source, which is in addition to those times when I actively try to evoke a solution for a problem or else attempt to call something to mind for other purposes.
As a result, I must have written several million words over the last fifteen years, although I’m aware that a high word count does not necessarily mean that everything I write is of the highest quality. Nonetheless, I’ve penned torrents of verse, poetry, lyrics, songs, press releases, essays, synopses, treatments, stories, features, articles and the like, as well as my two books, a once-voluminous correspondence, around seven hundred lengthy posts for my Eternal Idol site, a detailed diary of my lucid dreams, an account of my time inside Silbury Hill and a very great deal else besides.
Somewhere in my archives is a ninety-thousand word book I wrote on Stonehenge in 2005, although I suspect that most of the content is redundant by now, while I’ve written two smaller books over the course of the last twelve months or so, one being a study of the scientific stranglehold on Stonehenge, the other being a brief study of the Afterlife that was inspired by what Machiavelli had to say about communing with spirits of ancient men in his study.
I know I’m not alone in being capable of such an output, because the late Colin Wilson, for example, wrote to an even greater degree; as for the regrettable fact that I’ve not perfected or published everything I compose, then I console myself by recalling that Leonardo da Vinci – an infinitely more talented person than me – never had any of his writing published during his lifetime, while many of his paintings, sculptures and mechanisms remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1519.
As for myself, it’s perhaps relevant to say once again that I don’t particularly enjoy writing, because it’s too solitary a pastime for me. It’s something I feel driven to do, but at the same time, I admit that I actively enjoy applying myself to certain problems, Stonehenge being the one I’ve written about most in public, although there are many other subjects that I privately ponder at enormous length because of the pleasure the process of contemplation brings to me.
As many others have done over the millennia, I find myself wondering if the source for these things is some ‘universal mind’ that certain people can tap into, or if individual human minds alone are capable of generating and creating ideas that are later translated into words, imagery or inventions. I’ve read hundreds of thousands of words over the years dealing with convincing instances of people who seem capable of ‘channelling’ information from a supernatural source, including dreams, but the most striking argument for me and the one that inspired this post came from Lyall Watson’s 1986 book Supernature II.
I was glancing through it earlier today, as it seemed to demand my attention from the great heaps of books here in my study, and I opened it to read a paragraph dealing with the intimate knowledge the tribal Indians of the Amazon basin have of their environment. In brief, Professor Watson described how ethnobotanists were constantly amazed by the sheer sophistication of the herbal cures the tribal Indians employ, something that seems at odds with the comparatively short time period these people have spent surrounded by the flora they transmogrify into medicines and stimulants.
Some potions require as many as a dozen intricate steps in their preparation, but if any one of them is omitted or not carried out properly, the end product becomes not merely ineffectual for the required purpose, but lethal. So, as Professor Watson observed, given that there are hundreds of thousands of different plants in the jungle, it’s hard to see how this fiendishly complex procedure came to be successfully applied to just one plant by trial and error alone in such a short space of time. He finished by observing that whenever the Indians are asked about this, they simply reply “The jungle told us what to do.”
In opposition to the notion of a ‘universal mind’, there’s the train of thought or belief that individuals create things themselves, or somehow conjure them from the depths of their minds. Jim Morrison of the Doors, John Lennon and Freddie Mercury were all prolific writers who died well before their time, so it seems certain to me that each one of them would have gone on to compose many more memorable wonders had they lived longer, while I’ve not heard any evidence that others have somehow accessed their repository of genius by creating multiple albums filled with quality and unforgettable compositions in the tradition of the Doors, Queen or the Beatles.
Nonetheless, we are not short of creatives in our own time and when I glance at the cultural landscape around me, I note that it’s teeming with painters, poets, artists, songwriters, novelists, sculptors, choreographers, film makers, writers and others who actively try to create exhilarating landmarks for society. There are too many to try to list here, but what astonishes and baffles me is the meager to non-existent contribution from our politicians and other leaders in the form of memorable, uplifting deeds and visions.
We live in an age riven with wars, intolerance, conflict, inequality, poverty and a plague of other fearsome ills, any one of which you would think would be more than sufficient to provoke an eloquent and inspirational response from any one of our world leaders. Yet it seems that these people are either individually incapable of articulating a vision to match what our poets, songwriters, novelists and scriptwriters produce on a regular basis, or else their voices are stilled by the dead hands of professional consultants and advisors, who are infinitely more interested in protecting reputations through threatened lawsuits and manipulating online information than they are in enhancing reputations by using their limited imaginations, the result being that we are all the poorer.
“Even the jungle wanted him dead, and that’s who he really took his orders from anyway.”
Captain Willard, speaking of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.