Tuesday, February 24, 2009

complete attention

Here's a great little piece I read to my Creative Imagination class this morning. We're thinking about the experience of "flow" and what gets us into that sort of a state. The poet and visual artist Fanny Howe describes the spiritual aspect of such things:

The quest for a condition that exists in two separate states is what confuses people. The person looking for "me" (a fixed identity) is also the same person looking for (a vapory word) "God." This split search can only be folded into one in the process of working on something--whether it is writing, digging, planting, painting, teaching--with a wholeheartedness that qualifies as complete attention. In such a state, you find yourself depending on chance or grace to supply you with the focus to complete what you are doing. Your work is practical, but your relationship to it is illogical in the range of its possible errors and failures. You align yourself with something behind and ahead and above you that is geometric in nature; you lean on its assistance, realizing the inadequacy of your words.

--Fanny Howe, "The Future Is Like Magic: A Notebook" (Poetry March 2009.

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