Freeing the muse with morning writing: A concrete example

In my Course in Demonic Creativity, and also in its expansion as a print book that I’m currently shopping around under the title Daemonic Creativity: A Guide to the Inner Genius, and also in an article at my Demon Muse blog, I talk about accessing the daemonic muse via the practice of morning writing. It’s a discipline that I’ve returned to repeatedly over a span of many years, pursuing it daily for weeks at a time and then taking breaks of many months.

The basic idea is that you get up early and freewrite for a set period of time or a set number of pages before you’re fully awake. With the filtering power of your conscious ego thus reduced, your unconscious mind, which is your muse/daemon/genius (an identification whose order can be reversed for a different rhetorical emphasis while remaining fully as true), is freed to speak more clearly and spill things onto the page that you hadn’t consciously anticipated or intended.

I hardly ever go back and read over the stacks of pages that I’ve written by this method, because they’re generally pretty boring, although some targeted reading of them with a specific purpose in mind — the purpose of discovering what your particular genius is like: what its voice and interests and inclinations are — is invaluable, especially in the early stages of a writer’s life. Over time the beneficial results of morning writing for me have tended more in the direction of giving me a sense of flow, of living connection and communion with my daemon, well after the exercise has ended. I’ve found that starting my morning with an intentional act of liberating and listening to my invisible collaborator and other self makes it more inclined to stick around and enrich the rest of my day.

But occasionally I still stumble across something of uncommon interest in my morning writings, and a moment ago it happened purely by accident. I was riffling through a notebook in search of some blank pages at the end, in order to write down some notes for a story idea that’s been arriving nicely formed over the past 72 hours. Without really intending it, I glanced at a few words of one entry as it flipped past, and they caught my attention, so I read a few more words, and then a few more, and suddenly I found myself reading on with surprise as a stream-of-consciousness string of gibberish that had been written by my own hand transformed itself spontaneously into a kind of mini-essay on the clash between the totalitarian rule of Western ego-based consciousness and the subterranean rumblings of older ways of seeing and knowing the world. I have no memory of having written this, and so I thought I’d share it here as a concrete example, right from my own experience, of the unexpected things that can come out when you undertake to unleash your daemonic muse. It’s not exactly automatic writing, but it’s only a couple of steps away from it.

The entry is dated Tuesday, July 21, 2011, 6:09 a.m., and it shows that I started out in my foggy-sleepy state with a vague sense of having nothing to say, after which the flow kicked in.

So what can I write about for two pages? What’s real, or what’s asking to be said, or what’s bubbling beneath the surface? Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “Bibo No Aozora” is mentally playing, owing, of course, to the fact that I sent a YouTube link to Tom yesterday with the song playing as the closing credits music from Babel, and also a link to that 1996 live performance in Japan. Soothing, mesmerizing, yearning, haunting. “He had that look you very rarely find, the haunting, haunted kind.”

Wanting to do a free association here but feeling it would be frivolous. Wanting to let loose and have an ice-blue torrent of inner direction form the words.

Rick Strassman and creativity. DMT and elves, aliens, angels, etc. Sleep paralysis and discarnates. Etc., etc. Entities. Even locks that won’t explode when the sky’s become a scroll, having lost its entrance. See: that’s the deal we made, just to join the Oyster Cult.

Sandy Pearlman and exquisitely beautiful music. The Clash & such. Rock criticism and heavy metal. Dionysian mystery cults. Gods and monsters. James Whale, Ian McKellan, Brendan Fraser, Don Congdon, Clive Barker, Tony Todd, Candyman 2, NOTLD 1990, Tom Savini, Bub, George Romero, blood, glasses, Simon Baker, The Mentalist.

Synaptic interconnections of stored information effected by emotionality for maximum imprinting effectiveness.

Why is the Western model of wakeful consciousness, rationality, logical discrimination privileged as the mode of knowing, the only valid state of consciousness whose perceptions and cognitions are accepted as authoritative and finally, fundamentally true? Charles Tart’s major insight about state-specific knowledge is a barb, or rather an insidious acid that continues to eat through and dissolve and undermine the rational ego’s hegemonic hold on human culture that has taken root over these past three centuries. The Enlightenment project’s historical manifestation as the making of a New Order in the United States, a novus ordo saeclorum, was and is a manifestation of a grand alchemical-occult project with vibrant and deep-reaching roots in holistic consciousness, but its scientific side devolved into scientism, a.k.a. reductionist materialism, and let loose a demonic devouring destructiveness in human culture and on planet earth. The consolidation of the rational ego became the channel for egoism of a purely and perfectly alienated sort. The self became felt and known and limited as the ego, the waking self, and the goal of life became the gratification of the isolated little hypothetical/virtual self via the deployment of technology to increase its mastery of “nature” on a basis of visible-rational objective relationships and laws. Stripped of soul-qualities in the eyes of this hallucinated ego, “nature” became mere tool and obstacle and enemy.

If, by chance, you have any of your own experiences in this vein — experiences where you’ve produced something coherent  in words or some other form that you later had no recollection of producing — I’d love to hear them.

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on April 16, 2012, in Writing & Creativity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. hey Matt. this was so interesting, I really enjoyed this post. I’ve done something similar, sometimes poetry that I go back to later and can’t remember writing. mostly though, it’s artwork. I did a series of paintings about 6 years ago now, that when i look at them now, I know i did them, but just don’t “remember” doing them. some of my strongest pieces too. Keep up the excellent work Matt, i love your blog and am so glad you are posting more.

    pamela

    • This is fascinating to hear, Pamela. From what I’ve seen of your artwork, it doesn’t surprise me that you’re familiar with this inspired/muse-driven state. (Sorry for taking over a month to reply to your comment, by the way!)

  2. Allo Matt,

    My apologies for being a broken record, but this captured my attention: “But occasionally I still stumble across something of uncommon interest in my morning writings, and a moment ago it happened purely by accident. I was riffling through a notebook in search of some blank pages at the end, in order to write down some notes for a story idea that’s been arriving nicely formed over the past 72 hours.” Story idea?
    You are one of the few authors of philosophical horror, let alone theological horror, that I have encountered — and yet, even excluding that, I simply miss your fiction and was greatly disappointed when you had earlier wrote “Regarding my own writing and editing, I am now, and have been for the past year-plus, in the midst of a major creative recalibration and reorienation, and the future of my writing career — including whether there will be one at all — is an open question. I’m not talking about creative block but a profound shift in priorities and values, mostly occurring as a spontaneous spiritual/psychological event of the “awakening” sort. It looks like my identity as a horror writer, at least, is over and done with. Other issues are still up in the air. I’m presently writing the introduction to a friend’s forthcoming short fiction collection. Other than that, all of my current writing is not for publication.”
    So has something perhaps changed?
    My best.
    -E.S.-

    • Sincere apologies for taking over a month to reply to your question, E.S. Somehow your comment, and also Pamela’s above, slipped past me.

      And may I just say: very good catch. As in, that’s a good catch on your part, to notice that my comment about having received and worked with an idea for a story stood somewhat at variance with my previous statement about being done with writing horror. The latter development was not consciously chosen, but was something that just arose out of my inner life spontaneously. So was the fact of the new story’s arrival. And yes, it’s a horror story, and of the philosophical/religious sort. It’s also a cross-genre piece that falls equally in the realm of dystopian science fiction, with a kind of surrealist or magical realist edge. I’ve had a standing invitation to submit to a forthcoming anthology for over a year now, and I really thought that in the end I was going to have to offer the editors an apology for falling out on them. But then at the eleventh hour — only about three weeks before the deadline — a workable idea emerged on its own, and my first test drillings, as it were, showed that it really wanted to be written. So I wrote it, and just last night I received the notification that it has been accepted to the antho, which was very pleasant to hear. (The editors have asked me not to reveal the details until they make an official public announcement later this week about the anthology’s table of contents and publication date.)

      The whole thing stands as just one more illustration of how I’m not at all in control of these matters. Which of course makes me no different than anyone else.

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