I'm attracted to this image because it depicts the human face and skull simultaneously. The face represents human identity and symbolizes all that comes with consciousness including ego, inner dialogue, cognitive thought, and more. The skull represents that which is inside us all: molecules and magnetism, potential and energy. Depending on where you put your focus, one becomes more apparent than the other.
In life I seek meaning, peace, and symbiosis with the world around me—oneness, if you will—as do so many others. A wide range of religious and philosophical theory agree that the conscious mind separates us from these. As examples, we can reference a variety of literature from the Bible's story of Adam and Eve to more recent writings by Eckhart Tolle. The quest for oneness can be thought of as over-riding our egoic mind, drowning it out, or controlling it to align ourselves with the flow of nature.
All things in the universe have a function and purpose that ultimately benefits the whole. Parasites, for example, we may think of as negative but contribute in a unique way. For this reason, I'm not convinced the ego is all bad. The question isn't whether or not the ego is good. The question is what are the positive aspects of identity, individuality and other conscious creations? Or how does consciousness align us with the natural flow?
I love making art. I enjoy the process in that lose-track-of-time kinda way. A second aspect of art making that draws me in is the ability to communicate and learn through what I'm making. There isn't anything fundamentally wrong with beauty for beauty's sake, however, I feel there is intrinsic value in art that is purposeful as well as visually stimulating.
I've found my work to be most successful when I create unconsciously—by selecting surfaces, images, colors, lines, shapes, placements, etc instinctively. When I approach art making with a plan, goal, or preconceived idea about what I'm creating, the result is banal. The unconsciously generated work resonates more with viewers. Upon reflection of the work, I am able to make realizations and connections that I wouldn't have through conscious thought.
Surprisingly, letting go of pre-conceived art making can be challenging. It parallels the quest for oneness in that it requires a quieting of the mind.
GET IT CLEAR IN YOUR MIND
I started working with this image right around the time I quit smoking. Without going into too much detail, I'd tried to quit for about 8 years and was finally able after reading Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Smoking. The difference between this book and the other multitude of quit smoking aids is that the book helped me change the way I thought about cigarettes. Instead of thinking I was missing out on smoking, I mentally got myself excited to be a non-smoker.
What's interesting here is that we have the ability to consciously change a thought pattern that had become unconscious. Carr stated numerous times that it is necessary to "get it clear in your mind" that you are a happy non-smoker before smoking that last cigarette. Envision it, feel it, know it. Essentially, this is visualization. Visualization can be a productive use of the conscious mind and it can be a positive one.
Carr's book used a lot of repetition. Repetition can be a strong tool in learning. I'm inclined to incorporate this image in my work indefinitely. A clearer distinction needs to be made in my understanding of consciousness, ego, unconscious, energy, their functions and their relationships with each other.