Can you imagine that? Plugging yourself into the pure energy of the universe?
That is what Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor talked about in her Ted.com presentation. She told her story of suffering from a hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain, and how that rendered her "like an infant in a grown woman's body."
Dr. Taylor described what that condition meant by showing the audience a real brain, demonstrating how the left and right hemispheres of the brain functions. Apparently the left hemisphere accounts for the rational, the logical, and the linguistic capability of the human brain. It categorizes, it names, it organizes what data the right hemisphere receives as pure sensations.
But losing the function of her brain's left hemisphere--her ability to function as a "normal" human being--opened up a new vista of "pure euphoria, nirvana." The comments posted in the Ted.com site compares her experience to an "acid trip." And the way she described that experience really seemed like it.
Just before the doctors went into surgery, she gave up "like a balloon losing its air, its soul," and said goodbye to her life. But then the realization that she was still alive and blessed with this "insight" into what the brain's right hemisphere could tap into, convinced her to fight for her life just so she could "spread the idea."
What was this insight that Dr. Taylor tapped into? It was this idea that half of our brain is connected to the energies of the universe, that it allowed us to be literally one with the cosmos.
Of course, like an acid trip, it can be the soaring experience that Dr. Taylor described or it could be a rapid descent into paranoia. But then, the way she told her story, it seemed that tapping into that pure energy can only bring that expansive feeling of love and peace. (Perhaps it is when we are pulled back into our rational selves that we feel paranoid.)
And so Dr. Taylor--neuralanatomist and intellectual--is spreading the idea of human beings tapping into the right brain to re-connect ourselves into the pure energies of the universe. Perhaps, she says, when we do that we will be able to project the peace and love that this universal energy emits.
Okay, that may sound flaky to some of you. But that is what Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, neuralanatomist and intellectual, discussed in her talk at Ted.com.
Speaking about the left and right brain, she distinguishes between the work of the two sides of our brain, and how the two are really different personalities.
She then illustrates what will happen to us if, just like what she experienced after a hemorrhage, her left brain stopped functioning.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. You should listen to her talk first:
And so, wouldn't it be wonderful indeed to devote more of our time processing our right hemispheres, and as a result project the peace and love and kindness that makes up the energies around us? Now that sounds really flaky. Or is it just my left brain acting as censor and comptroller of my life?
Because some would say it's not. And so they require something more from creative writers.
This is the question I ask myself while preparing for the first consultation sessions in CW 200b Creative Writing Thesis.
On one hand some would say that creative writing is research. One of the advocates is the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) in UK. In their Creative Writing Subject/Research Benchmark Statement, published in September 2008, they make the following arguments:
But defining creative writing research is different from its acceptance in the academe, where scholarly work is dominated and governed by positivist dogma.
And so in our Creative Writing Thesis class, we require our senior students to submit a collection of creative works accompanied with a critical preface.
The critical preface functions as a supplementary discourse that allows students to articulate their creative writing process and practice. It serves to document students' technical and critical acumen. As one Creative Writing teacher puts it, in the final report of the University of London's English Subject Center's Mini Project on "Supplementary Discourses in Creative Writing Teaching at Higher Education Level," published in March 2003:
"The supplementary discourses give students ways of discussing and understanding contemporary poetry and art -- and ways of developing their own practice as a result." (8)
This is as close as Creative Writing can go -- without crossing over into Literary Studies -- in terms of the demands of "measurable" scholarly work. As another Creative Writing teacher says, as quoted in the English Subject Center's report:
"supplementary discourses are the only way of persuading colleagues hostile to creative writing that it has some 'academic probity.'" (10)
So is creative writing research? What do you think?
How do artists legitimize their work in the scholarly realm of the academy? This is the question we have to answer as we formulate guidelines for creative works submitted for financial or institutional support.
Because whether we like it or not, artists are seen as intuitive rather than rational, subjective rather than objective, and so on. And so when we create something, our work is often considered as trivial or frivolous.
This is what Jan Svenungsson says in "The Writing Artist" (Art & Research, Vol. 2 No. 2 Spring 2009):
Sinews of Syllables performance (Photo: JCAD)
"The scientist -- or scholar -- aims to establish knowledge which should be valid at least for a certain time, which can be shared and used as such, by others, whereas the artist strives to install in the viewer or reader an urge for further search, for further preoccupation with what there is. Of course, the artist wants to reach as many people as possible, but what will be shared between them is not really comparable, because they will interpret the task of further searching in as many different ways."
So it seems the twain shall never meet, at least in the academe. But that is what we'll try to merge -- with the aid of readings like the one above -- so that artists in the University will be given the same recognition as scholars.
Wish us luck.
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