Friday, November 12, 2010

Camera stellata: A Place of Creativity

The Star Chamber. This was a special judicial council in England, from the late middle ages to the end of Henry VIII’s reign. The term has become a pejorative to describe secret meetings, where illegal or unfair decisions are made, against which there is no recourse. This information is neither here nor there, as far as this post is concerned.

Apparently, in some text dating from the 16th century, the Star Chamber was described as a room with a vaulted ceiling of azure, with golden stars. There are many such, throughout Europe, and even a few here in the United States, in cathedrals and churches. Have you ever been in one?

Starry, starry night.  The depiction of earth as an eye, open to the cosmos.

The star chamber is my metaphorical place of creativity.

I can enter this chamber at any time of day; frequently, this happens between 2 and 4 a.m., but also during daylight hours. I can enter this chamber at home, at sea, across borders and boundaries, and in any weather.

What is in this metaphorical chamber? How exactly do I get there? What is in the chamber? And what happens next?

I’m afraid I don’t have precise answers to these questions, but I will venture toward something necessarily imprecise.

There is an invitation made to me. From whence, I know not. This comes in the form of a twinge at the forehead, a series of words that drift into my mind and don’t drift away. There could be a tug at my sleeve, an itch on the sole of one foot or a breeze blowing across my forehead. Whatever the invitation, it will not allow me to avoid giving it due attention.  Come on, it says—in no uncertain terms.

Then, something like this happens. My conscious mind and my unconscious mind join hands. My right-brain and left-brain join hands. My heart and mind join hands. And then, in words somewhat like Dogen’s description of meditation, body and mind drop off, leaving the rest of me free to enter.

And there I am. What is in the chamber? I could not describe exactly what is in there for you or tell you what it is like, but I can say that Divine Genesis resides there, and the chamber is full, indeed.

What happens next? Mmmm. Difficult to say, for the circumstances are different each time. There is a meeting, and a spark sets the proceedings alight. Is it a conversation? Perhaps. Yes, it could well be a conversation. It could also be an exploration. A flow and mix of ideas.

And then I return to mind and body.

But the very elements that made the invitation arrive back with me, transformed into something else.

Is the result by my hand? Hmmm, I would have to say partly.  Yes—as filtered through my being—yes, it is by my hand. But, there is something more there than me. An alchemy, a music, a melding, a grace bestowed by Divine Genesis.

While I am not sure what to call this something more, it is a definite meeting.

All art, I am convinced, is derived from such meeting.

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