The Personality of the Artist (Painter)

 

Our Own Personal Style

While I did well in school it often did not hold my attention. Some things were fascinating and some things trivial. So frequently I “went out the window” which meant dreaming and exploring while the teacher went on his or her way. This process continued into graduate school. Some part of the subject matter was really interesting, other parts not so much.

As the time came closer for me to choose a doctoral dissertation topic I was working with a professor who held my interest. We were very different personality types but he engaged me and would challenge me in very useful ways. I liked that. He made me think.

Creativity Versus Intelligence

At the time he was studying creativity as it related to intelligence. Of course to some people that was a verboten area to explore. Creativity is simply supposed to be creative and that’s that. He didn’t view it that way. And his study came up with an interesting conclusion. Creativity and intelligence are orthogonal. Wow! Really?

Orthogonal is a rarely used word which means unrelated. The conclusion was that you could be really smart and not at all creative or really creative and not so smart in the ordinary sense. I liked that idea. It was what I would call unbinding. For one thing, we don’t have to put the creative types into scholarly straightjackets.

His studies led me to take a look at the literature about creativity in the psychological/psychiatric realm. What a hopeless morass. I did my major thesis (predoctoral) on the subject. I didn’t like what I found and neither did the professors who reviewed it. But it was what it was.

Eternal Gratitude to My Professor 

But It led me to discuss doing my dissertation on the personality of the artist (painter in this instance). My professor thought it worth doing. At the same time such a dissertation is risky. In psychology you are to demonstrate your grasp of the scientific method and it is usually safest to pick up on a line of study, tweak it and do a dissertation study. I decided to take the risk.

At the time the department was deep into the work of Carl Jung and that meant in part we were looking at his personality typology which had been translated into an actual test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Business people loved it, because once you know a person’s personality, it tells you a great deal about what jobs they will be best at.

Off To Hang Out With the Artists

The long and short of it was I set out for an art school in Richmond, Virginia. The faculty thought the study might be interesting so I went in and took photos of the paintings and paid the students the princely sum of $2 each to take the test. I had long and interesting discussions with the students and hanging out with them was great fun.

I took the data back to Duke and had the paintings rated on a variety of dimensions which then were compared statistically with the personality types. Most of the literature was floundering around in psychoanalytical thought. This time we had real evidence. And it worked.

Surprises and Validation

I’ll cut to the chase. Not surprisingly the majority of the students were primary intuitive types which fits because they were exploring visually and conceptually. There was a smaller subcategory of other types whose work was really, really different. If you ever see a dark painting of a bleak woods against an evening sky, the chances are you are looking at the work of a primary thinking type.

A couple of other things stood out. Contrary to expectations, the artists with thinking as an auxiliary had rich and deep color choices while the ones with feeling as an auxiliary had muted color choices. Some findings were consistent with hypotheses, some counterintuitive.

Validating Jung

And then my professor asked me to do a different analysis. He wanted to know if the primary determinant of the effect was the type or whether there was an influence from the degree of that type. The analysis validated Jung’s contention. Within type there was the matter of degree but there was little variation. It was the type far and away that determined the characteristics of the art. My dissertation was easily defended and accepted.

What did we learn other than what was stated above? We learned about the power of what Jung had put together. I validated my perception that the psychoanalytic floundering was trash. And again, we learned the power of personality among other things I won’t bore you with. The paper was actually picked up by a major psychological journal. I had many other thoughts about such research but have never found the time. It’s interesting what’s out there if you go exploring and again it validated by love of the “What if”.

I’m considering writing specific columns about the women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. I think you would find them fascinating.

Are you surprised by any of these findings?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Caribbean Reality

 

Let’s take a break from our land of conflict.

Dreams Versus Reality

The Caribbean is a land of dreams. Beautiful islands, lush waters, jungles and happy, welcoming people. That is what we see. Reality is always different. Not that it isn’t lovely but the experience of life is complex. We had been seduced and were building a home on a beautiful island with which we had fallen in love.

Complex History

As a tourist what you see is a bewitching landscape and the lush experience of the moment. In fact the Caribbean is complex with a fascinating history. The islands had tribes that came from South America followed by colonizers from a variety of countries including Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands. They fought each other and made islands their colonies.

St. Lucia went back and forth between Britain and France fourteen times. The locals speak a French based patois along with English. When we came to St. Lucia the patois did not have a written form but, by the time we left, it was written and, if you spoke some French, you could read it. The accent was the problem. Many of the island people had been enslaved and slaves were imported.

What We Expected

We expected we would make friends with the locals and we did to a limited extent. But mostly expats or arriving foreigners related to each other. The indigenous people had strong family connections.

We also expected that life would be easy and it was not, as we learned our way around a country with far more problems than we had assumed. Electricity worked well enough except when the utility by mistake sent 440 volts into our 220 volt house. A large dam had been built to supply water and when they turned it on they blew the mains in the capital. We had a terrible struggle getting a reliable supply. But finally an Irish friend of ours gave me the map of the island water system and I was able to secretly go out and open and close valves so we got water most of the time. At least we did after I had to threaten suit in an island where people never sue. At first we had no water. We got mains installed after I threatened suit but as our Chinese attorney said, “You may have mains water but there will be no water in the mains.” In time there was water in the mains after I snuck out and opened the right valves.

We lived in an open environment which was lovely except for the bugs, rats, crabs (200 feet above sea level!) among other critters. But we also had darling birds who ate lunch with us.

Other Realities 

The island was a democracy with a small legislative body and a prime minister. In fact it was ruled by a few very wealthy families. Each of them owned a significant slice of the island. Electricity was produced by a utility which burned oil from Venezuela. In the distance from our house we could see the peaks of mountains where there was an endless supply of wind from the Atlantic Ocean. They could have generated electricity by wind power but the ruling family did not want that.

In short, it was much more complex than we had expected and the learning curve was steep.  It was essential that we learn the ins and out and be tenacious. We had thought to retire on the island some day but learned some harsh lessons. The health care system was not good and if there was a serous health emergency the solution was to hire a plane and be flown to Miami or Martinique. When we left fifteen years later, after having had a wonderful adventure, we had survived. Our attorney said, “You lasted longer than most.”

What he meant was that people who did what we did, coming to the island and buying or building a home, found the island challenging at many levels. Most fled within a year or two.

In Conclusion

These are some of the highlights and realities. I’m glad we did it, and we proved ourselves to be adaptive survivors. These are just a few of the many issues we faced but there were also numerous rewards. These islands are beautiful and each of them are different. I’ll go into descriptions of other islands in a later post. The climate is beautiful and the summers can be cooler than the continental United States. Winters can be ever so cozy and with adaptability the social scene can be rewarding. In all though, it is essential to be flexible and ready to face numerous challenges. We are glad we had the adventure.

Would such an adventure interest you?

If you want greater detailing of the experience there are numerous posts on my https://caribbeandreamblog.com . 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Search for Matriarchy

 

What does matriarchy mean to you?

We Seem To Be Having a Debate

Was there a time in human history when matriarchal (matriarchy meaning female rulership) societies dominated and then were replaced with serial patriarchy which is where we are now? There seems to be real passion involved and terms such as matriarchalism, matrifocal and matrilineal swirl through the debate.

Notable in the debate is the book The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why An Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future by Cynthia Eller. Eller is described as setting out “to refute what she describes as feminist matriarchalism as an ‘ennobling lie’”. From what I could see this does not seem to be a dispassionate academic debate. Naturally it is a little hard to rush back into history and see exactly what happened. And reports may be biased. Surprise, surprise. 

And then there is the question of how to characterize periods of rule by women. In fact, Britain has a rather long history. Was the time of Queen Elizabeth 1 a matriarchy? How about Queen Victoria and the current queen? Somehow I think matriarchy is a little over the top as a description. Men did not exactly fade away.

Goddesses Are Prominent 

Throughout history women have held various kinds of power. Goddesses are prominent in human history and we invoke some truly strong imagery. We describe our planet as being ruled by an earth mother and mother nature is always with us. In fact, I chose Gaia as our Earth Goddess for my trilogy because it invoked the images I sought. Clearly many of the images relate to the fact that each of us has a mother. These are archetypes (recurrent symbols and motifs) with substantive meaning. I do not view them as part of the debate. Something else is going on.

Part of what is going on seems to be an underlying debate about whether patriarchal dominance is inevitable or whether it is a matter of dominance at this time. But, now I’m going to shift gears. The inevitability of male dominance is unlikely and at issue and we are seeing a new movement empowering women. 

Then There Are the Feminist Movements

There are other terms of interest. The women’s movement of the 1970s is described as the second wave of feminism. At the time it caught my attention and I found it well worth supporting. And more recently came the third-wave feminist movement beginning in the 1990s. It apparently arose from the backlash against second-wave feminism initiatives. And now we have something called the current feminist sex wars. That seems apt in describing the controversy flowing around Eller’s book. 

Debate Versus Goals

Now I’ll ask the question which is the real point of this post. Why are we having this debate at all? Do we have to decide if there is some great given right for men to rule now and forever or if women are brought in to rule and is it to become eternal. What a monumental waste of time.

At some point we risk wish replacing thought. That description may characterize the debate since there are surely different agendas behind the scene. And so, let me return to Sally Armstrong’s book Uprising: A New Age Is Dawning for Every mother’s Daughter. She describes the movement worldwide and the benefits derived.

Benefits and Justice

It would seem more productive if we focused on the benefits and what constitutes justice of all kinds. As noted, we hear little about the real reason for income inequality, for example. A lot of cards are not on the table when it comes to equality for women and that would be a better focus for analysis and understanding as well as outing the perpetrators.

Equality and Partnership 

It might be interesting to view the effects of matriarchy, matrifocal societies and matrilineal processes but it may be they are not going to give guidance in the current circumstances. It would seem more productive to accept the benefits of empowerment of women and to look at the barriers to equality and partnership in our present day. Then we can set an agenda and do away with squabbles about history. We have work to do in the here and now.

What are your biggest concerns about health care?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Health Care Alternatives and Reality – Series – Pt. 2

Overcoming Innocence

A Lifelong Process

In a previous post I wrote about the lessons I learned from my father, a surgeon.  While he loved his profession, he also had deep reservations which he spoke to me about. It seems I took it in at a deep level because I was not exactly a rebel at such a young age. But over time I found myself having to clear my perception of all kinds of health care alternatives. And each time I found myself examining alternative pathways. And, looking back I think what was happening was that my intuitive personality was dictating that I search for alternatives and possibilities.

Searching Psychology

When I began my studies in college I was told psychology was a science. Well, of sorts. Definitely not hard science entirely. There was experimental psychology and there was clinical psychology. When I was accepted into graduate school at Duke it was in the experimental psychology program. it was a matter of a very few weeks before I walked into the chairman’s office and requested a change to clinical. Graciously he agreed.

Interface with Medicine

Early on we began clinical experience at Duke University Medical Center and eventually I did my internship there. It was eye opening. Up close and personal I interfaced with people I admired and some who horrified me even though they were highly respected. The echoes of my father’s positions were significant.

Now I’m Looking Back

Here it is decades later and I see a process of search and discovery. In this series I’m going to share my thoughts about health care and “treatment of illness”. Notice that there are quotation marks there. There are realities and there are dicta. I found myself weaving through a system which I saw as needing substantive modernization and reevaluation if not downright reform at all levels.

Rushing At the Future

And now we find ourselves being pressed into information technology and changes we are only now beginning to understand. The title of this blog is Cusp of Reality and I firmly believe that medicine resides on a vibrating cusp as well. In coming posts I’ll  be sharing my view of health care realities, misgivings about illness and diagnosis. I’ll be referring to revisions of definitions of illness, the difference between illness and life management. While much of what I experienced was in the psychological sphere, it is impossible to separate it from physiological, cultural and logical influences as well. We are on a rough road into the future and we need to explore and study what may lie before us. There I am again as the intuitive personality type facing a world of possibilities. But much of my viewpoint is conditioned  by experience. Jump on board and let’s explore together. 

What are your biggest concerns about health care?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Image of Woman

 

If you were to construct one essential image of a woman, what would you choose?

Broadening Our views

This is such an interesting time in human history. There are so many possibilities. I’ll try to focus. 

Our image of ourselves is changing and diverging. When I was a kid, Leave It To Beaver was on television and a show called Father Knows Best. These were All-American families with a central male character and the woman was the housewife. What else was there? We were to find out.

Gradually our view broadened. We learned we had single parent families and divorce became more and more prominent possibly because women had more options. Steadily diversity was recognized.

Fast Forward

I won’t try to follow all the twists and turns. Now we come to a new century and there was a stunning development. I remember the two “maiden ladies” down the street and the sad specter of the lifelong bachelor. We now have new thoughts about who they might have been. And then suddenly we had the recognition of LGBT and actually (over strenuous opposition) allowed gay marriage.

At the personal level the catalogue of options is steadily expanding. As a kid I loved science and liked to tinker with our television. If I had been a little older at the time I would have been a member of a rocket building club. Wernher von Braun was my hero. If I were a child today I would be one incredible geek. My computer would be my home. Some of these choices are easy and others are more difficult.

Back to Women

Women’s roles are diverging. We are pounding on the glass ceiling and maybe some day soon we will openly deal with income inequality and the right of women to make their own decisions. No doubt you have your own catalogue of complaints about that issue. 

What I am finding fascinating are the efforts to build a pantheon of roles which a woman can maintain at her discretion. Yes, for some reason I want to call it a pantheon because there are glorious elevated choices. When we view a large celebration we see an interesting collection of people. Mostly the men look rather similar in dark suits of various kinds. Women are far more diverse and it hints at a more fundamental diversity.

It seems now a woman can display an allure in one setting and take on an image of power and competence of a different kind in another setting. And, again, I have to wonder if that isn’t part of the problem men are having with the empowerment of women.

Stepping Back

Posts in a blog are supposed to be relatively short and this subject doesn’t lend itself well to a blog post because the more you think about it, the more complex the issues become. Leadership by women can be explicit or implicit which is also true for men but in a different way. How do we define these differences and what do they mean and where will it lead us?

Women can be magnificent beauty objects in one setting and a powerful leader in another. Women are adept at accessing and utilizing vastly different roles. And is that part of the problem? This diversity in image and setting seems troubling to us. We were more comfortable with Father Knows Best. 

What do you think is going on and what are your thoughts?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health? by Roger B. Burt

Women in Power

 

The Depth of Nicole

In my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy Nicole Cloutier brought a whole different set of values and weapons to the Andromeda. Once again her origins for this series was not at all clear. She came and offered an irresistible set of talents and powers. Of course such women are found in various forms throughout history across our world. But she had a special heritage.

The Pain and Wonder of Haiti

The history of Haiti is intriguing. It was a colony of France and gave France considerable wealth until a bloody rebellion freed the people of this Caribbean island. Unfortunately the freedom did not lead to a glorious future. To this day we see an island of poverty beset by hurricanes and earthquakes.

A Rich History

Haiti has continued to nurture rich African traditions. Perhaps to many of us it is the mystery of their religion which intrigues us most. It was displayed in motion pictures from long ago and we know a central component as Voodoo. They call it Vodun. There are books which relate to the setting of their struggles and from time to time we see the heritage in America.

What Nicole Brought

To Andromeda Nicole brought depth of  richness fromHaitian traditions. She was a mulatto woman born into a privileged family in the ruling class. What she brought to the trilogy  began as innocence but with an in depth understanding and regard for the culture of Vodun. While she had privilege she also seemed to have regard for the power inherent in the mysterious traditions of Africa. 

From an early age she was drawn to the occult and it was as if it was ordained that she become conversant with the spirit world. It was that world that brought power and understanding. At the same time she had at her command the power of substances which could be lethal or heal.

Adapting to a New World

Coming to Europe she showed that she was able to relate skillfully to new cultures while harboring skills and knowledge useful for her position in Andromeda. It meant, in her interface with the Overlords that she was truly dangerous, even lethal, in a way they could not comprehend. Her facility with the nether world meant she could relate to and adapt to the spirit world in all its manifestations. And, in the end it would seem that she had been ordained and she could relate to what would almost surely become something essential for the eventual development of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health? by Roger B. Burt

Nathaniel Sent Us This

From my Christmas Letter — 2017; your piece
today (The Fog We Are Living In of 4/2/18)reminded me of this:

À propos of nothing at all, one of the ways in which we cope with reality is to adopt the role of a victim and project blame on others.  A good example is the recent massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  President Donald Trump blamed mental health issues with some justification: Devin Kelley, the shooter, did spend some time in a psychiatric hospital.  (Mr. Trump seemed to have forgotten that the first significant legislation he signed into law reversed the Obama-era policy of prohibiting mentally ill persons from buying guns.)

Others blamed the shortage of available guns, the theory being that if only more people had guns, those who were praying at First Baptist on that Sunday could have fired back, killing Devin Kelley, and then presumably resumed their prayers.  As long as we have someone or something “out there” to blame, we absolve ourselves of any responsibility.

In 476 C.E. Romulus, the last of the Roman emperors in the West, was overthrown by the Germanic leader Odoacer, who became the first Barbarian to rule in Rome. The societal order that Rome had brought to western Europe for 1000 years was no more.  Much has been written about why this happened; I am convinced that it was a gradual process which spanned centuries, each decade contributing a little something towards making this future disaster happen.

I wonder if we are now in the midst of just such a slow moving deterioration.  I find myself thinking now and again, “So, this is what is like to be in the middle of an empire which is slowly collapsing.”  I alone cannot change that process, and I do my best not to blame others.  I recommit myself to the small things I can do, such as recycle as much as possible, support charitable endeavors, minister to those who are hurting, write letters to the Editor, and say my prayers on Sunday mornings (these days at nearby St. Paul’s, Trappe) with no gun under my vestments.

****************

Nathaniel Pierce