THE THIRD EYE
DR. RACHANA PATNI
A dear friend who passed away with undiagnosed lupus in 2013 told me something that resurfaces in my mind every now and again.
She was a beautiful African-Caribbean woman aged over 60, who said men have an easier time producing creative things because they are not tied up in the anxiety of giving birth to something imperfect. At the time, she was giving me advice about ensuring that I focus on finishing my PhD, as she felt that the labour of writing it could be an endless one, and I needed to know when my research was good enough to go out into the world, even with some flaws.
My friend told me how she’d wanted to write a book called ‘Black Women Abroad’ and never reached a place where she was willing to let it out into the world. That unfinished project would have been beautiful, even if it were wholly imperfect. So, I lament.
Speaking with filmmakers, I have got a sense of the see-saw of creativity that moves in spirals between our masculine and our feminine capacities. The ‘putting it out there’ after having spent time ‘holding it in’ requires such a great
union of all of our capabilities. Young filmmakers have to navigate not just their own internal conundrums but also contexts set by producers and the logic of the film industry.
One filmmaker I spoke to recently had a short film selected for IFFI 2019. He described his creative process as one that he thoroughly enjoys. When one of his projects is ending, he always has the next one lined up, so that he does not get into a phase of rumination or worry. He believes in keeping things simple and has started an enterprise unrelated to film, so that he can always know that making films is his work and not his life.
Rather than the creative process be anxiety ridden, he experiences his process as inspired. Therefore, he produces the goods. I wondered how this might change if there was more of a flow between this talented filmmaker’s emotional world and his art, if his work was allowed to touch him, and to be touched by his emotions. If only he could let himself in a bit…
Another filmmaker I was fortunate to have a connect with had a first project that was not up to her own expectations of herself, and her friends also had been critical. Yet it made her extremely visible on the world stage and it became quite a ‘thing’, a huge success that she received a lot of validation for. She shared with me that she has not made something in a long time because she feels this pressure and expectation to create something that she feels internally committed to. This makes her unable to work in a market driven process though she had found unexpected success in that path.
At the same time, she finds it hard to discern her own feelings without any external structures within which to create. She wants to work toward something as if it were final and ultimate, and is not ready to settle for the incremental. This creates a situation that is hard to reconcile,which leads to a pause in productivity, although I would hasten to add that it is not necessarily a pause in creativity. I wondered what goods would be produced if this talented filmmaker could pause her inner critic while she entered a sense of flow in relation to her own work. If only she could let herself out a bit…
I listen to narratives in my work with the expressed intention of seeing which patterns might be inhabiting our lives in a way that stymies us from being fully present and fully ourselves.
The state of flow – when our presence to our task and our immersion in it is complete – is a very creative state. It requires a submission that can be very profoundly productive.
This surrender requires trust and the courage to feel, and also a disarming of our inner critic. I long for the coming together of these two perspectives and whenever it happens, we will all sense its beauty.
I did finish the PhD. It was imperfect and good enough.
Illustration by Oriana Fernandez. You can follow her work on instagram.com/oriana_fernandez_/
Read more from The Peacock: Issue 8 (2019) here: