One thing that my friend Bryan found out when he started working seriously on acting was that his personal life, and his internal emotional mechanisms, kept interfering massively with his creative choices.
How Did His Personal Life Interfere?
The first time I worked with Bryan, he was developing a monologue for a class assignment. I think the monologue (if I remember correctly) was from the perspective of a man confronting his wife about an affair.
We, Bryan and I, were sitting under a set of university stairs. He was a teenager on the verge of adulthood, and I was a bristling-with-eagerness new TA. As we alternated between working the monologue and discussing his acting process, the following observations occurred to me:
- Bryan’s mental life had long ago outstripped his emotional life.
- Bryan’s father had shaped his views of women in a manner that distorted his potential creative process
- Though I could create a bridge between my knowledge and Bryan’s abilities, thereby increasing his present skill, his own internal mechanisms were currently incapable of retaining the improvement.
What Happened To Bryan?
I taught Bryan for about a year and a half, and directed him in several small productions. He, being tall, dark, and the possessor of effective and brooding eyes, was then seized upon by a corrupt professor, and put into a more prestigious production, where he promptly lost his head and fell completely out of touch with genuine creativity.
Ah, Politics, and the Seduction of Flattery
If I could go back in time right now, and sit again with Bryan under the university stairs, I would not make any kind of bridge between my abilities and his talent. I could transform him, for any number of minutes, into a seemingly-advanced actor. I have the ability and the know-how to crutch up any receptive body into apparent genius for a moment or two, long enough for the delivery of a monologue.
But experience, and the wisdom of failure, has shown me the ultimate futility of such assistance. If I could go back in time, to the beginning of Bryan’s acting journey, this is what I would do:
- I would unearth his emotional life, and guide him into articulating his primal state of being.
- I would guide Bryan into an understanding of distorted child development, and isolate the moment when he deviated from healthy growth and integration.
- I would abandon Bryan to his own skill, and allow him to act from the place of the last cohesion of his integrated self.
What Does That Mean?
It is possible, and exceedingly common, for a person to halt in some area of their development and integration as a human being. For example, many grown adults secretly carry the emotional sophistication of a child, and they compensate for stalled development by an overdeveloped intellectualism. Big words cover young feelings, as it were.
Where’s My Guide To An Integrated Energy Field?
Try this brief experiment. Your subconscious is much more aware than you might give it credit for being; if you pose pertinent questions, and keep an open spirit to the answers that your mind will immediately supply, you can learn much about your total integrative qualities.
Answer these questions in your own mind, and keep fear and self-hatred to a minimum in the process:
- At what age did you last feel complete peace and wholeness through your body?
- What moment ended that sensation of wholeness?
- Imagine your intellectual self (words, thinking, reflective ability, and self-awareness), your emotional self (surges of feeling in your center, images and colors that flow through you), and your intuitive self (your ability to picture the future, or predict outcomes from actions or possible scenarios) as being three separate beings within you. Look at each of these three selves, and ask yourself, how old is my intellectual self? My emotional self? And how old is my intuitive self?
When you have answered these questions, you may have found that there is a disturbing disparity between the ages of your internal parts of self.
A wide gap, or stalled development in one or more of the areas of internal selfhood, or firmly-established boundaries between elements of the self, will create enormous and unavoidable disruption in the creative process.
What Do I Do With This Information?
When you gain perspective on the current status of your inherent parts of self, you also gain power over your future. The ideal, in the human performative instrument, is holistic integration of the energy field; this integration is achieved through matching the development of each area, and through the removal of permanent barriers between the parts of self.
If your emotive self is stuck around the age of four, and your intellectual self is thirty-six, your creative work will be dry, like an empty husk. It may be painstakingly beautiful and technically accomplished, but it will not bring genuine joy or a sense of unity and sharing to your audience.
If you are emotionally sophisticated, having developed normally in that part to the age of forty-two, but your intuitive capacity was stalled at the age of two, your creative work will appear dead to your audience. There will be no magic or danger in the execution of your powers.
A melding of the parts of self, and a unity, a harmony between the stages of development, will lead to creative performance that intoxicates and enlivens the reader.
You’re reading Victor Poole. I wrote a series of books that will integrate your disparate parts of self as you read. Wednesday is really fun to say like this: Wed-NEZ-day.