"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Poetic Visual Surface II

I’ve been busy surfing the Net, seeking a definitive description of poetry as part of my quest to define the poetic visual surface. This definition is my favorite so far:

Poetry - A fundamental creative act using language.

It’s a contemporary definition but feels expansive in a way that the traditional definition, which I also found on line, does not:

Poetry. (from the Latin poeta, a poet) a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning.

Maybe the classic definition would have been more intriguing if only I'd found it first. Now it feels as dry as a pile of last year’s pecan leaves.

If poetry is a fundamental creative act using language, than a poetic surface must also be a fundamental creative act. It’s visual by nature, but what else? How could it be defined? I had a feeling it was like pornography. I was having trouble defining it, but I was going to know it when I saw it.

Stumped, I looked up lyrical, a word cycling in my head.
Lyrical. adj.
1. Expressing deep personal emotion or observations.
2. Highly enthusiastic; rhapsodic.

That was good and felt right; exciting, actually.

Then my musician Darling shared a phrase from his own reading - “Perfection, in performance, should be considered a point of departure.”

Which we translated as: Perfection, even when accomplished, runs the risk of being dry if it isn’t supported by lyricism – deep personal emotion and/or enthusiasm. Perhaps listeners actually prefer a heartfelt performance, despite the possibility of imperfection. Musical performance is another fundamental creative act, employing music as the language.

And so my elusive definition took shape:

The poetic visual surface – inspired by deeply personal emotional or enthusiastic observations, which can be lyrical and/or evocative; a fundamental creative act, and one that considers perfection a point of departure.

Is there a higher calling for any artist?


  1. Nice, Jane--you have distilled it down to the essence.

  2. You keep tossing down the gauntlet and I wonder if I can even reach for it, let alone pick it up.

  3. Of course you can!! You help shape my thinking and after all, this is a group effort, too, not just individuals all by themselves!

  4. Magnificent to read your blog after being so long away! Your definition brings me right back to my true work! Thank you, thank you!