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Eat the Message, Not the Messenger?

November 13, 2014

While taking a course in German in college, one day we had a visitor. He was a German writer of children’s books.

I don’t recall much else about what he talked about, or the subject of the excerpts from his books that he read. What I do recall is his method of beginning a new project.

He said he write one word on a piece of paper. He would look at it. Then he would eat it.

At some point later, he would imagine being pregnant. Then, eventually, he would begin writing and give “birth” to the new book.

Seems like the professor asked what he washed it down with, but I don’t recall the answer. It was more designed for humor’s sake I imagine.

But what is actually happening there? The writer created or borrowed from somewhere a ritual which prompts his unconscious mind to do some work. Consciously, he can trust the process and not allow fear and performance anxiety to interfere with the work flow.

I think what’s extraordinary about that is that it’s at least partially a conscious decision to do such a thing. A conscious act to try to communicate with that immense biological machine that is operating so many systems and on so many levels at once to get it to work on something another part of the man’s self wants done.

Is ritual then at least partly an attempt to communicate with that complex machine, for the “will” to discipline the genius? Or is it a way of getting the left and right brain on aligned, focused on task? Don’t know, but I must think it’s kind of a cool idea to have remembered it for so long. Belief and pretend can be so powerful.


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