#22 “Scream” of consciousness prompt selection challenges

Right, I’m just going to get this one out of my head right now as I’m searching for quotes and ideas from the portion of text I read today. I never thought it would be so difficult to just pick something. The problem these days with picking a prompt for my AMhouot.com stream of consciousness blog posts—compared to my previous streaming where I’d start from a question or unfinished statement—is that I must pick one idea, one concept, to start the flow of streaming, tapping into a particular wavelength in the brain, a feeling in the body. There are just too many good ideas in front of me at all times, each screaming “pick me,” “over here,” “unravel me”! We shouldn’t call it stream of consciousness, rather this technique should be called scream of consciousness because of the wide range of possibilities screaming to come out of your head. Is this what happens with ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc.; they want out, they want to be known, they want to be cultivated not only by the originator, the creator, or the conduit of such thought processes but also by others who might take the idea to remix it and re-release into the public dialogue. 

To give you a more granular look into how I craft my streams, I review the highlights I made throughout the text I read. I copy/paste quotes or general gists from the text to my Word document. I usually have half a page of quotes I consider as prompts to get me going and then I go for it. Most of the prompts I don’t use; however, if I particular liked something I’ll put it at the end of the stream/blog post for people to chew on after they read my journey through my own mind. These unused prompts are like children that didn’t get picked for playground sports teams. They’re sidelined; but are they? I could, if I wanted to, continue the stream or write another stream and publish two blog posts in one day, or you could run with it, do your own stream, perhaps commenting on what I wrote and then critique my thoughts by using one of the quotes I didn’t use. Go for it. Critique my thoughts right now in one of my stream/blog posts. Go to your Word processor, whatever program you use, empty your mind of your thoughts and then copy/paste them as a comment on that particular blog post. Say whatever you want, it’s not supposed to be good. If it is good, then all the better. 

So yeah, anyway, my process is this: I create a Word document titled “1-10”, then another one titled “11-20”, and so on. At the top of each post, I write the stream/blog post number, the day and date. I have title/header with the post’s number. If I’m streaming about a particular text, I’ll put the text’s title, the author(s), and page numbers that I read for that day. Before I start writing I put a proper reference (usually APA citation) of the text at the bottom of the stream. Once all of these fixtures, some order is given to the page, I feel ready to unleash the chaos from my mind within these top and bottom margins of that day’s streaming/meditation exercise. 

A snippet of text showing how AM Houot structures his stream of consciousness writings.

 

The idea of giving some order to chaos is most fascinating to me. It reminds me of the yin and yang symbol, wherein you’ll find a bit of order in chaos and a bit of chaos in order. I won’t go too deep into this idea since I already wrote about it in my archived streams. The point I’m trying to make is somewhat grounded in rituals, that is to say, I create a space for the mind to empty, to analyze, to seek, to conceptualize, to vent, et cetera, by doing my little ritual of creating these parameters within which to write. I suppose knowing the day, date, and number of a particular stream allows me to track my own progress, whatever progress that might be in whatever context. It’s like I’m doing a Big Data analytics experiment on my own mind, my being, to be able to see and look back upon where I was at a particular time in my life, and maybe others will read this to understand my mind better, and perhaps see things, interpret in a hermeneutical way, what I was thinking about and how I was thinking about it. Maybe this documentation process is a window for others to peer into me. If the eyes are the window to the soul, then written language is the symbolic manifestation of my slowed down and carefully considered thoughts, funneled only as fast as I can type them out. (See philosopher Ernst Cassirer’s three-volume set on the philosophy of symbolic forms in addition to his paper titled “Form and Technology” for more info.) 

With that said, I want to write my last few sentences on writing one’s last few sentences. I try to finish my streams with some sort of final thought, lesson learned, a takeaway message, a thought about the above funneled thoughts, the final drips coming out of the funnel. But these are no ordinary drips. Unlike water, more viscus fluids cling to the insides of the funnel. You must wait and shake, be patient for them to come out. I’m a big fan of Baileys Irish Cream liqueur, so much so, that I cannot have it in the house or else it will be drunk. When the end of that bottle is poured into my coffee in addition to a heaping teaspoon of raw cocoa, I must get every drip, especially if there is no backup bottle. If I have milk on hand, I will even put some milk into the Baileys bottle, give it shake, and then pour the final drips mixed with the milk into my coffee-cocoa base. And so, one must ask when writing in general: what can be mixed with one’s final conclusory thoughts to make sure that every drop is squeezed out? 

A final final note: writing the title is the very last thing I do. 

Ernst Cassirer's book cover on the philosophy of symbolic forms.

Cassirer, E. (1980/1923). The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. Volume One: Language. (R. Manheim, Trans.). Yale University Press.

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