‘The Inbetween (Part V):
Confessions of a Mental Treasure Hunter
Thoughts on Harvesting Optic Revelry’ by Nathan Spoor
Detach, Decompress, Distract
The best way, in my opinion, to tease an idea into a performance arena is to ignore it. What’s that you say? That’s correct; just walk away for a bit. We’ve been discussing the Inbetween views and how to engage that place more accurately, but this section goes a bit wider in scope and relies on a more heuristic approach (enabling a person to uncover solutions for themselves). Whatever you’re finding frustration with or is causing you to stumble, try giving it some room to breathe. By “it”, I’m meaning the thing you’re trying to solve or the problem area in a painting. I might be rephrasing a bit of the earlier section on “stepping away”, but in this sense I really mean get yourself apart from the trouble zone and just rest your mind. Occasionally, I find a short rest to be a really helpful way of resetting the mind. Essentially the decompression works best mid-day, and I’ll turn off any music or TV or whatever else might be on, lie down, and close my eyes for a few minutes. Generally speaking, 10-20 minutes works best for my needs. I look at the clock; make a mental note of the time and when I want to get up, and then just tune out the world for a few minutes. I listen—eyes closed— to the stillness and silence (as much as you can in a city) and just let my mind wander. Then when I come back to the waking world I’ve often found a solution that helps move some portion of a project forward.
Distracting comes a bit easier, and you don’t have to lie down or even close your eyes. In fact that might not be helpful at all, when all you need is something besides what you were being frustrated or confused by. Sometimes the mind simply needs to be redirected from the problem at hand to disengage. I find that whenever there is a problem or frustration in a painting, I just need to switch my focus onto another work.
This is a bit of a correlation to “Interactive Thinking”, a field of study originated by Graham Douglas in 1986 and further explored by business intellectual Roger Martin. In interactive thinking, it is proposed that a thinker builds models to consider all the variables of a problem and then synthesizes a solution from the best aspects of both models that provides a superior solution than either. Martin’s work on Design Thinking is also quite exciting, and states that one capable of balancing analytical and intuitive thinking can exploit existing knowledge and effectively create new knowledge.
If you really want to dive further in, I recommend reading the extensive research and writings available on Philosophy of Mind, or the “mind-body problem”, which goes back as far as Plato and Hindu schools of philosophy. Of particular interest on the subject is René Descartes writings on “Interactionist dualism” as well as the theory of “Psychophysical parallelism” and many many others.
Join us next week for the final part of Nathan’s fascinating series.