Sunday, 3 March 2013

unintentional music

I've been sent details of a workshop called 'Unintentional Music: Releasing Creativity and Transforming Stage Fright'.  It comes out of Process Work, which was developed by Arnold Mindell, who trained as a Jungian but was dissatisfied with psychotherapy's lack of interest in the physical body. Though I'm not a fan of the packaging of his most recent books, his earlier ones are interesting, exploring the link between physical symptoms and dreams.

Here is some of the blurb (contact me by email if you want the full details):

Whenever we create, just like in other areas of our lives, some things happen that do not go along with our intentions. The unintentional aspects of the music we make - the unwanted note, the cracked voice, the strange croaking sound we try to avoid, the rhythmic problem we cannot erase even after hours of practice - contain more wisdom than we think.

They are intimations of parts of ourselves, and of our music, that lie beyond our awareness. Exploring the unintentional with curiosity and love can help us tap into the wellsprings of our deepest creativity and make our music, and ultimately our lives, more authentic, meaningful, and original.

The guy running this workshop is not Arnold Mindell, but an experienced Process Worker who seems to specialise in creativity and performance. You can see his book here. I'm going.


  1. If it transforms stage fright then that can't be bad (unless of course the fright is itself a call not to be put on stage and not to be transformed). But why do I get the impression that the claim to "make our music and ultimately our lives more authentic, meaningful and original" is a way of saying that without this 'cure' our lives will continue to be inauthentic, meaningless and unoriginal? Isn't it convenient that any example you care to mention of our fallibility as beings can be interpreted as an "intimation beyond our awareness"? Thankfully there are experts out there who can help us "tap the wellspring of our creativity".

    What are they selling really? We are imperfect beings and it just so happens - so they claim - that these imperfections are "intimations from beyond our awareness." Forgive me for being thoroughly unconvinced but this sounds like a classic case of snake oil to me.

  2. Jim, You're entirely entitled to your opinion (that's such a weird expression, isn't it!). And I saw that sentence as I copied out out and thought, mmm, that could be a bit of a red rag. Actually I thought it was the word 'love' that might get someone going...

    Personally, however, I don't agree that the ideas here suggest that a cure is being offered, or that without it our lives are the opposite of the words it uses. I see this as a different approach to the technical fix that's usually on offer for the kinds of 'problems' outlined.

    Perhaps I'm influenced by what I know of Arnold Mindell's work. I'm certainly influenced by my own experience. Since I started looking into parts of myself that were lying beyond my awareness, via music and art, I have arrived on my own solid ground. You can call this what you like, and to an outsider any words I might use to try to describe what that feels like will certainly fall short of my experience. But this resonates for me, and I go where I find a resonance!

  3. Aye, well you know me well enough by now to know that I'm bound to be deeply skeptical about such things. I can see that it might have value for some folk though and might even make a genuine difference. Interpreting things beyond our awareness is an endeavour much to be admired of course.

    Still, it strikes me that there are numerous regularities in the world (our bodies included) some of which may be the source of genuine insights and/or personal growth and others which, due to our exceptionally well tuned and sometimes overeager interpretive abilities, lead us to see meaning in the inchoate.

  4. It's all in how it's done, of course, isn't it? If I didn't know something about where I think this is coming from, I'd probably be the first to agree with you.

    Meaning. Well, I think about this a lot! It seems to me that there's no genuine or intrinsic meaning, anywhere, ever. I think we're always seeing meaning in the inchoate - if we didn't we'd go bonkers and implode. We make it up all the time, every tiny bit of it. We do this, of course, in reference to our history of such activity - like weaving a carpet through time. So we come to believe all sorts of things that, for us, have become 'real', and our bodies and emotions and minds not only go along with this process, in fact they rely on it.

    You might come to one of my BRILLIANT authentic artist workshop and find it all a load of tosh!!! But, despite this, said workshop is still changing my world - my physiology, my emotions, my sense of purpose, my sense of belonging or not in the world etc. It's all arbitrary as a duck.

  5. Thinking about keeping a little journal of this workshop to publish here, so then you'll get to see my meaning-making process at work in all its cringe-making detail! :-)

  6. Hmm, not sure that we're making it all up all the time - meaning that is. Surely there are some things that really do conform to the interpretations we make and allow us to make other predictions with greater certainty whereas some things just seem to have significance but don't stand up to scrutiny (that's not to say that they can't be profoundly interesting though). Luckily for us the universe is a pretty regular place in many ways and we've evolved to exploit these regularities (which also means misinterpreting them sometimes too). Well, that's my (mis)interpretation anyway. But without some underlying pattern or regularity, how on earth (so to speak) could we ever make sense of anything?

    I'd be interested to know what you make of this - to me it seems like a fascinating and very plausible account of how much might be discovered about the 'language' of the body:



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