Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

The Different Flavors of Reality ~ Where Do Creative Ideas Come From?

I may lose a few folks with these opening comments but to really “get” this post you should first read this one and then read this one. They’ll open in new windows so you can pop right back here… I totally recommend you read the comments on those posts, too. Seems our regulars are getting into the spirit of things :-)

For those who haven’t read those other posts, I’ll face the challenge of writing a synopsis:

Writers seem like strange creatures, always coming up with make-believes that seem real, talking to characters in their heads, spending lots of time absolutely alone…

Seems we writers are actually like other people but more so…

Writers use something everyone has but they use it more.

I’m going to insert an image, but first want to credit the man from whom it was adapted, William S. Hatcher. I found the diagram in his book, Logic & Logos. I should mention, mostly because the image implies it, that the theories of Carl Jung support Hatcher’s ideas.


First, notice that Unconscious Reality and Conscious Reality are both Subjective: they are what each individual has “within” them…

Then, Visible Reality and Invisible Reality are both Objective: “outside” the individual…

Now, a little explanation of each flavor of Reality:

Conscious Reality: This is what far too many people think is the only reality. It’s the Ego-consciousness, the part of the mind that sees objects, the place where we do our thinking and shout in silence…

Visible Reality: This is the world-out-there. Again, far too many people think this is the only reality that’s outside their mind–if ya can’t see it, it ain’t real…

Invisible Reality: This flavor of Reality might sound totally strange but contemplate gravity-—can’t see it but you definitely know it’s there. Magnetism is another part of Invisible Reality. And, if you really want to grasp this aspect of Reality, realize that most of what we call Social Reality-—institutions, corporations, various civic offices-—are also part of Invisible Reality. Sure there are Visible buildings and corporate headquarters and mayors but the concepts of institution, corporation, and office are truly invisible. There may be a President in the White House but you can’t actually see The Presidency…

Unconscious Reality: Now we’re into the area of Reality that writers (and any creative person) use so much. This is internal to a person. Most people don’t pay conscious attention to this part of their mind. It makes itself known, whether a person wishes it or not, in dreams, day-dreams, sudden speech we often wish hadn’t left our mouths, and other interesting manifestations.

The Unconscious Mind of each individual is also, apparently, connected at its deepest levels with what might be called the Memory of Humanity—the Collective Unconscious—but this memory isn’t passive; it has energy and purpose and has powered many a fine conscious idea…

So, to summarize:

There are, at least, four realms of Reality and two of them are inside us. Most people cling to their Conscious Reality and shun the Unconscious. They leave themselves open to bad dreams, embarrassing social gaffs, troublesome relationships, and even increased illness…

Writers (and other creative types) take advantage of their Unconscious Reality. It either flows up to the conscious mind without bidding and is accepted as a resource for creativity or they work to make it manifest its images and energies.

I hope you read those two earlier posts I recommended and it would be just fantastic if you’ve checked out the other links. Now, I will eagerly anticipate the continuation of the conversation from the earlier posts’ Comments………
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15 responses to “The Different Flavors of Reality ~ Where Do Creative Ideas Come From?

  1. Simone Benedict March 5, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    It’s all pretty heady to me. I’m going to have to mull it over a bit. Very interesting post.


  2. Catana March 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    You didn’t lose me, and I hope I won’t lose you, but frankly, I have no use for abstractions like “types of reality” or the collective unconscious. Any attempt to determine where creative ideas come from are after-the-fact analyses beloved of scholars and having little to do with the reality of creativity. Nobody sits down to write after a consideration of where the ideas are coming from or should come from. I’m basically an extremely analytical person, but I have no trouble seeing this kind of analysis as irrelevant to creativity. It reminds me of literary scholars who pore over a deceased writer’s notes, drafts, journals, and personal letters in order to dissect the work. Supposedly, they then understand it better, but that’s pure illusion. What they end up with is their highly personal interpretation of where the inspiration came from and what the text “really” means. Writers couldn’t care less, and the only readers who care are the ones who’ve been trained to follow in the scholars’ footsteps.


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 5, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      Catana, you said: “Nobody sits down to write after a consideration of where the ideas are coming from or should come from.”

      I do…

      You also said: “Writers couldn’t care less…”

      I care…


      • Catana March 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm

        Okay, I guess I assumed too much. :-) So now I’d love to know what goes into your consideration of where your ideas are coming from. And I’m curious as to whether you think it’s absolutely necessary to the way you write. Sometimes I know exactly where an idea came from, but I can’t say that I’ve ever gone looking. If I don’t know, it’s still just as likely to work itself out into a story.

        I have to say, this is a heck of a lot more interesting than discussions about pantsers vs plotters.


        • Alexander M Zoltai March 5, 2011 at 10:41 pm

          Well… First I need to say that I certainly don’t think it’s necessary for a writer to ponder where their ideas come from.

          I happen to do it and the most beneficial result I’ve found from exploring the unconscious is that I receive more inspiration than I used to…

          You said: “I have no use for abstractions like ‘types of reality’ or the collective unconscious.”

          And, I must say that, if I believed they were only abstractions, I would also have no use for them.

          I’m glad you find the discussion interesting, Catana. One of my main goals for this blog is sparking thought, feeling, and discussion…

          As far as what goes into my consideration of where my ideas come from, this post and the two I linked to at the beginning fairly well summarize my considerations–summarize, not clarify or explain :-)


  3. cmmarcum March 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    It is an interesting question. I, too, had to take an overnight ponder, and I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

    I have to admit that there does seem to be some sort of inkwell, and the more I tap it, the stronger the connection. Is this merely neurons building, as a natural result of experience? Or is this a mystical connection to the cosmos? Frankly, I don’t care and I’m a little superstitious about looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. There are many things that should just be graciously accepted: love, faith and inspiration.

    However, my dear friend, do not discount the possibility that you are the source of your own art and the wand of your own magic.


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      I respect what you say, C. M.

      I’ve gone through many phases of believing many theories of how the mind works.

      If I believe that my unconscious mind is supplying me with ideas, the ideas are still coming from my mind.

      I admit, the area in the map called invisible could be a deal-breaker for some folks but I can’t see gravity or magnetism yet I know they exist.

      I know this because of the Effects they produce. This is how I also know my unconscious mind exists–the effects it produces…..


  4. MPax March 6, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    You always post such interesting articles. The mind is as great a mystery as the Pyramids. I don’t know how I figure out certain ideas go together. I keep things that interest me in an ‘idea journal’. Eventually, I decide several of them go together and create a story. So, gathering the snippets is conscious, but I don’t think linking them together is fully conscious.

    Yet perhaps, as writers, its a muscle we flex often enough that we don’t have to think too much about it, like other tasks that become almost automatic to us.

    Maybe it’s like Anna on V searching for the human soul – somewhat unquantifiable.


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Since I know of your interest in science, I want to mention that scientific method–hypothesize, theorize, experiment/test, predict, experiment/test, etc.–is just as valid a technique for “proving” the existence of phenomena that are in Unconscious Reality or Invisible Reality as it is for finding “truth” in Conscious or Visible Reality :-)

      Thanks for the encouraging word about the interesting-ness of my posts…………


  5. cmmarcum March 6, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I don’t want to sidetrack your post from writing, but here’s a site that relates a little to the collective unconscious theory. check it out


  6. Pingback: Transcribing the Ether « The Library of Narcissism

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