By William Markiewicz
Consciousness is a matter of the senses. We cannot be conscious if at least one sensorial window on the world doesn't remain open. So, consciousness is reverberation between ourselves and the external world. Consciousness is a back and forth communication between the brain and the sources of our impressions. Can a newborn baby, deprived of all senses be conscious? We cannot deny it because the mysterious proprioception remains and cannot disappear because linked to life itself. Proprioception is more vague than sensory perception because less connected to the thinking brain. Proprioception is not totally understood because it is not a straightforward cause-effect reaction like the senses-brain relationship. Would a baby with a normal brain but left with only proprioception be conscious and what kind of consciousness would it be?
The connection between brain and body is not exclusively proprioceptive. Sensorial connection between the brain and the body exists through touch, temperature, pain, pleasure... The way of the proprioceptive connection between body and brain remains elusive for understanding as there are not specific senses involved. The brain cannot be directly aware of the nature of this non-sensorial communication, as awareness through understanding is sensorial. Proprioception is our 'interior instinct.' By the way - regarding instincts -- animal instincts are as enigmatic as human consciousness. What makes them so functional and simultaneously so limited? The slightest change of situation blocks instinctive behaviour which shows that the animal doesn't really know what it is doing.
An example of the function of proprioception: strain causes fatigue which is a sensorial message. But too much rest and the consequent desire to move is already a more subtle and more complex message than the sensorial one. First of all it is harder to pinpoint than fatigue, as there are no specific senses to refer to. Too much rest involves circulation, hormones, enzymes..., contrary to fatigue which involves muscular pain. This provokes an overwhelming, very general mood for change, unlike sensorial messages which have a tendency to be quite precise.
All messages and reactions, meaning all communication, are of vibrative character. The waves' longitude and frequency differ from each other as do their respective receptors, but the fundamental essence is the same for all. If all vibrations could be heard we would all be walking symphonies and sometimes, indeed, we are -- with the help of musicians. But this will come.
Proprioception is a synthesis contrary to sensorial communication which is analytical. This means that proprioception sends all-encompassing vibrations toward the brain, and their pathways are not well known to us. We know that the brain has its own vibratons, like all living organs and tissues. All those vibrations amalgamate and reverberate back and forth, emitors becoming receptors and vice versa. The senses, then, send their own vibratory messages and reciprocally receive messages from the brain which, in their turn, are altered by proprioceptive messages. So, at the level of the brain, a unique synthesis is reached, expressed by the birth of interior 'language.' The senses no longer remain a simple transmitter of information, but vision becomes a source of painting, hearing -- a source of music, and the brain, innundated by all this heterogenous information synthesizes it, puts its own two cents in, and speculative thought is born . The most important in all of this is that the function of this new language is to procure a general well being. Creativity stimulates the body as much as the spirit.
The French painter Le Brun (16-17th century) described the intimate connection between creativity and the body (quoted from memory):
In the passion of painting . . . one has a warm feeling in the chest. The heart beats slowly and regularly. The digestion goes easier . . . So, this passion is good for health.
I remind those who may think that all this is too farfetched, that everything in nature is a product of unexpected alloys. It is through ingestion of chlorophyll that organisms developed hemoglobin. The white blood cells, behaving like independent unicellulars in the body while staying in harmony with the ensemble, are probably of external origin. Even the cells forming teeth behave, in the early childhood stage, like independent wandering animalcules which 'know' where to go. Embryology teaches us about all those internal complex travels and transfers. As for interspecies relationships, pollinating insects and pollinated plants were not "made" for each other but rather found each other. etc., etc. Adaptability, not design, is proper in evolution.
Alternation not simultaneity reigns in all mental processes. We cannot observe ourselves from a distance and be intimately connected to ourselves at the same time. We cannot think and observe ourselves thinking, we cannot be simultaneously transmitter and receptor. We cannot feel and think at the same time, because those are two different 'languages.' One of them remains on a subconscious level while the other holds the conscious reins. Proprioception, being synthetical not analytical, is, as we mentioned, equivalent to animal instinct. It transfers the body messages to the senses via the brain. Here brain is transmitter not receptor. But the body's internal language is not the same as the brain-sensory one; it is of physico/chemical nature. It's as if we tried to translate a physico/chemical formula into a poem or music and vice versa. Maybe it will come, but not now and not for us. The inspired person knows innately what to do. He is in a 'blessed' condition even if he cannot explain what it is. He also doesn't recollect the stage when he was not inspired so he cannot describe the process of what came to him and how. He knows nothing about his own trip. It is like a quantum leap with no transitional situation.
In reality this quantum leap is only apparent because of the physiological part included in the creative process. Those two simultaneous languages involved in the creative process are too distinct from each other to unite them .Our brain and senses are not equipped to enter the physiological space. Therefore inspiration -- artistic or any other type of creativity -- is experienced but not understood or controlled.
The thinking brain is not creative. Intelligence is recapitulative, draws conclusions from the past, and uses this information to secure the future. Intelligence is defensive. Creativity forms new alloys still unregistered in the archives of intelligence. The focus of creativity lies in the unknown.
Mystics accept better than philosophers the existence of the mysterious. They accept the impenetrable nature of God. All theological explanations touch only the periphery of the Divine. Art critics and philosophers believe that they can do better than theologians and try to understand 'what is art', There are subjective theories; what we feel, and objective; what we do, how and why. But we can only state, not explain. In the best of cases we can be descriptive like LeBrun on the physical field, or, like art critics and philosophers, on the philosophical and psychological level . All this until a creative anarchist comes and turns all theories into rubble. In the film about Goya there is a scene where the famous critic from Madrid visits him in his studio, looks at his recent works and says: "It's against the all rules about art -- and it's marvelous!" If the movie represents a true event, this critic was quite courageous.
Among all the notions connected to creativity, why stop at this one? Because beauty is the only notion through which people who are not artistic and not literary will define art. Art is beauty, it's a ready made definition By 'beauty' they confine creativity to the domain of understanding; they perceive it with their intelligence. It becomes a notion., an idea of the thing, not the thing in itself. As intelligence is recapitulative, not creative, creativity translated into the language of intelligence is not a creative experience and becomes easily kitsch and platitude. Why? Because if you want to explain the inexplicable you must go to levels below.
Of course the notion of beauty, like all other philosophical notions, has its merits, its limits, and is not to be totally accepted nor rejected. There are artists who care about beauty --Klimt -- those who don't care -- Soutine -- and both are great.
A universal notion of beauty doesn't exist, it's proper to culture. To be within your culture means to be within your specific pattern which naturally may push toward conformism.. The modern creator escapes conformism, escapes his culture exploring other horizons because for him it's refreshing. As 'refreshing' is a psychosomatic notion, it remains the most intimate definition of the function of art and creativity.