I have an old compulsion.  It’s not clear when it emerged.  This constant urge is characterized by my seeking ways to make two or more things not obviously connected, connected, in as few steps as possible.

In high school, I wrote papers that sought to integrate subjects or themes at best only tangentially related.  In chemistry, I wrote a piece on motorcycle engine engineering.  In English, I penned a short play using characters from three books I was supposed to be writing a book report on.  I sought to push the boundaries of what intuitively seemed related.  My teachers criticized me for a seeming inability to follow directions and write a paper on a single subject.

I remember creating a drawing in art class with a middle-class man’s head on a T-Rex body, and I titled it “Alfred K. Prufrock.”  That drawing summarized what I was seeking, a way to integrate opposites so the world made sense.

I longed for a world that revealed integration.  Seeking relief from anguish and self-recrimination, I often dissociated to a degree that allowed a matching of opposites in my imagination that refused to ally themselves in my emotions.

I felt torn.  I sought unification.

When my son was born and started toddling, I loved to sit on the floor with him and mix up the various toys, guys, kitchen implements and miscellaneous.  Packing materials such as Styrofoam blocks (used to ship large appliances) were added to the mix.  Elia and I would develop vague Star Wars-like universes with his favorite heroes, in this case Hammerhead (a Star Wars guy villain), flying across galaxies in makeshift Styrofoam spaceships.  We would orchestrate toys, garbage and stuff around the house into a play world that integrated bits of real.

This feature of play and art, integration of opposites or not obviously connected elements, now seems to be a primary feature of how I work.  Whereas when I was younger this was driven by an emotional longing for a safe place, there is an addition to this compulsion paradigm that has to do with a series of revelations that seeks to bring the lowest higher up, nourishing the grass roots, prolonging infant features into adulthood, assimilating societal fringe elements into the center, reconciling the powerless with the powerful, integrating that which is our creative source with society stuck in the habits of the status quo.

My life has been characterized by constant shifts between focuses or modalities.  I’m beginning to wonder if these frequent changes in what I pay attention to contribute to my abilities to integrate.  Over the course of a day, I spend very concentrated time theorizing, theorizing on theorizing, running a web development firm, helping grow a national nonprofit organization, consulting with nonprofits, brainstorming with a media organization, guiding businesses and engaging in numerous personal communications.  All in a typical, single day.

In other words, my compulsion to integrate has led to a life that unconsciously exposes me to an enormous amount of information and differing consciousness states requiring orchestration.

And so in this piece I began by noting an obsession, a deep desire to integrate opposites.  This need is in turn connected to taking a particular class of that which is hidden–infant features, creativity, features of the social fringe–and prolonging, integrating or manifesting that which is hidden into the society at large.  Then I noted that how I engage in this process has something to do with how I live my life, constantly changing focus while somehow allying all those elements over the course of the day.

What interests me has a lot to do with understanding how things work and how I work.  What is it in me and how I live my life that results in the ideas I have, and what makes those ideas useful?  As I seek to integrate opposites and understand the integrations, I also seek to understand what it is about me that seeks the integrations and how it is that I engage in the process.

Seeking integration, I keep widening my sphere of examination.  My life often ends up in that sphere, being part of what I observe.  That being the case, there seems to be a part of me that transcends my life.  I become the observer.  Recognition of that piece is central to the integration I deeply seek.  True integration requires a shift in identification.


This entry was posted on Sunday, June 21st, 2009 at 7:16 am and is filed under Art, Auto-Biography, Play. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
1 Comment so far

  1. Mark S on June 21, 2009 1:43 pm

    Andrew, this all reminds me of the what Michael Ventura calls the psychology of the watcher, here: http://dmymias.blogspot.com/2008/11/below-is-letter-from-michael-ventura-to.html; “a constant companion, who is you and yet more than you, and who seems always with you, watching from a slight distance.” I’ve had much the same compulsion to cross-pollinate across different spheres of experience; I was for instance guided as a musician for several years by Wendell Berry’s vision of local, ordinary excellence in agriculture. And James Hillman, to whom Michael Ventura is writing in the above link, has done extraordinary work laying out a polytheistic psychology that might help inform your experience of a multiplicity of selves. I’m immensely pleased, in any case, to have found your blogs, as autism and evolution are longstanding interests of mine as well, and I’m quite congenial to your politics — which may well not be surprising. I couldn’t be happier to know you’re working at laying out how they’re all related. Hope to have more to say as I get a chance to read more.

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