I first became aware of “blurred lines” while learning to paint with watercolors. Then I ran across that phrase again a few weeks ago while reading an article sent to me by a fellow word-lover. The art world today refers to those blurred lines as “soft edges,” although in the article, they used the word “sfumato”—a “technique for blurring the lines of a painting” made famous by Leonardo da Vinci. It is said to be the key to his creativity—this blurring of lines. He blurred the line between reality and imagination, too, according to this article (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 30, 2017), adapted from Walter Isaacson’s newly released book, titled Leonardo da Vinci (2017). His creative genius has been attributed to his ability to blur lines. He had an ability to allow his mind to “wander merrily across the arts, sciences, engineering and humanities.” And “he knew that art was science and that science was an art” and blurred the distinction between the two.
I think I am a line-blurrer—not a creative genius, of course, but a line-blurrer, nonetheless. I am forever making unlikely connections and then wondering what the heck I’m thinking and why! Then, later, ideas become clustered and coalesce until something new forms out of those unlikely pieces. It is the most uncomfortable sensation—to want to write about a topic but having to wait until it is formed enough to even know what it is exactly that I want to say.
Leonardo is quoted as saying that “creativity requires time and patience. Men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work least for their minds are occupied with their ideas. . . . It involves gathering all the possible facts and ideas, and only after that allowing the various ingredients to simmer.”
It is in this “simmer” phase that I suffer. I want to be productive; I feel urgency; my being is overflowing with the ingredients until I think I may explode. I have tried writing prior to the simmering, but the words refuse to make their way from the deep places to my fingertips. So I suffer . . . pacing around my house or around the neighborhood; traveling to the nearest Starbucks, hoping for external forces to bring the simmer to a boil and doneness.
My blurred lines wander around the edges of my deeply spiritual being and the acutely intellectual being: for me, the real is spiritual and the spiritual is real. I abhor religion, having had experiences that give me reason. I crave the truth—much like a suffocating person must feel—needing it to survive; I have reason for that, too, believe me.
So . . . you won’t have trouble believing me when I say I have quite the stack of unlikely sources on my desk as I work on my next book, The Fourth Voice. I should subtitle it “blurred lines”! Things I have gathered to review and draw from (with permission, of course) include a chapter on identity from Julie Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way; a list titled “Who am I”? from so long ago I can’t remember drafting it; a collection of topics on “mirrors”; the impostor profiles I created for my dissertation and The Impostor Affect; a copy of the chapter from a book on numerology on the number four; notes from Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots; Anthropology for Dummies and its source, Mirror for Man; an article from Psychology Today titled “Know Thyself”; and, finally, The Mirror Bible.
I’m simmering. And suffering. You will know when my suffering ends because I will close the final file and send The Fourth Voice off to the printer . . . and write a morning page on it for you. If you want updates on it prior to that one, just let me know and I’ll keep you in my loop.